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Historic Palestinian Recognition UN General Assembly Vote Coming: Live Feed

11:50 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Here is as link to the United Nations live feed for the General Assembly.  

At 3:00 EST, the body will vote on recognition of Palestine:

The UN General Assembly is set to approve an implicit recognition of Palestinian statehood today despite threats by the United States and Israel to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding funds for the West Bank government.

A resolution that would lift the Palestinian Authority’s UN observer status from “entity” to “non-member state,” like the Vatican, is expected to pass easily in the 193-nation General Assembly. At least 15 European states plan to vote for it.

Israel, the United States and a handful of other members are set to vote against what they see as a largely symbolic and counterproductive move by the Palestinians, which takes place on the 65th anniversary of the assembly’s adoption of resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

at last?

Photo by Rusty Stewart used under Creative Commons License.

Incoherence: US House and State Department Band Together to De-fund Holocaust Remembrance Education

10:37 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

(photo: Rusty Stewart)

The U.S. House of Representatives, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland all made statements this week indicating they are willing to end U.S. support for this ongoing program:

[T]eaching the lessons of the Holocaust is fundamental to establishing respect for human rights, basic freedoms and the values of tolerance and mutual respect….

….States are encouraged to develop educational programmes to transmit the memory of the Holocaust to future generations so as to prevent genocide from occurring again.

….the Organization works with The Holocaust and the UN Outreach Programme and other major specialized institutions to promote educational resources that use the lessons of the Holocaust to develop knowledge, attitudes and skills that will help students become more tolerant and prevent future genocides.

Why? Perhaps Ms. Nuland gave it an appropriate name: Incoherence.  I’ll get back to the term.

UNESCO’s board has recommended Palestine’s membership in the UN.  The House and Obama administration are threatening to withhold U.S. funding to UNESCO because of the move:

Lawmakers on Wednesday warned the U.N. cultural agency that it stands to lose tens of millions of dollars in U.S. funding if it agrees to admit Palestine as a member before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is concluded.

Two top members of the House panel that oversees such funding say the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization could lose roughly $80 million in annual U.S. contributions if it follows the recommendation of its board and admits Palestine.

Over U.S. objections, the UNESCO board voted earlier Wednesday in Paris to recommend Palestine’s membership. A vote from the full body is expected later this month.

In the Dominican Republic Wednesday, Hillary Clinton was asked about the threat:

It is unfortunate that there is a policy to pursue recognition of whatever sort through the United Nations rather than returning to the negotiating table to resolve the issues that will result in a real Palestinian state, something that the United States strongly supports and wants to see as soon as possible. But we know that there cannot be a state without negotiations.

What is the boundary of this state that is being considered by UNESCO? What authorities does it have? What jurisdiction will it be endowed with? Who knows? Nobody knows because those are the hard issues that can only be resolved by negotiation. And unfortunately, there are those who, in their enthusiasm to recognize the aspirations of the Palestinian people, are skipping over the most important step, which is determining what the state will look like, what its borders are, how it will deal with the myriad of issues that states must address.

With respect to the question about the United States’s response, we are certainly aware of strong legislative prohibition that prevents the United States from funding organizations that jump the gun, so to speak, in recognizing entities before they are fully ready for such recognition.

HRC characterized the move by the Palestinians to seek recognition at various powerful UN agencies as a premature “threat.”  Yet the State Department has said since last week that the Obama administration will ultimately veto Palestine’s request for full membership at the UN, when it comes before the Security Council. The State Department’s chief media spokesperson, Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert Kagan, one of the founders of the Project for a New American Century),  tried to explain to CNN‘s Matt Lauer Wednesday why the Palestinian move at UNESCO is not only a threat, but “Incoherent.”

MS. NULAND: I’m simply saying that as a procedural matter, you have the Security Council looking into this issue. So to have a separate track in the constituent entities doesn’t make a lot of sense.

QUESTION: Okay. Well if – you guys have – correct me if I’m wrong; I thought you guys said you were going to veto it in the Security Council. So no matter how long the Security Council takes to look at it, whether it’s in the Security Council or not, it ain’t going anywhere. You guys are going to kill it, correct?

MS. NULAND: Was there a question there, Matt?

QUESTION: Yes. Is that right? You’re going to veto it in the Security Council. Why should the Palestinians wait when you’ve already said you’re going to veto it in the Security Council? Why is it incoherent for them to go to someplace else to try and get the – something minor that they would like, that they think is important to them.

MS. NULAND: Again, our view has not changed. This is not going to create a state for them.

QUESTION: But Toria, they don’t even say it’s going to create a state for them.

MS. NULAND: It is going to make things harder.

QUESTION: Why?

MS. NULAND: It creates tensions that add to the environment and makes it harder –

QUESTION: In other words, it gets Israel upset.

MS. NULAND: I didn’t say that. I simply said that it further exacerbates the environment of tension. We’re trying to create an environment of trust. We’re trying to create constituencies for peace.

QUESTION: And you think that Palestinian membership in UNESCO creates tensions? Palestinian membership in the Office for Outer Space Affairs creates tensions?

MS. NULAND: Matt, I think I’ve said what I can on this subject.

QUESTION: Well, the problem with what you’ve said on the subject is it doesn’t make any sense, and most of the world, almost all of it, disagrees with you. A, they don’t believe it’s incoherent because they’re voting for it, and B, I don’t think you can get away from the fact that you have said you were going to veto it at the Security Council. So saying the Palestinians should wait for the Security Council to act when they know – because you’ve told them and the rest of the world – that you’re going to kill it, doesn’t make any sense.

MS. NULAND: Doesn’t change the fact that we oppose this at UNESCO.

[emphases added]

One has to hand it to Matt Lauer for being persistent.  He has been asking hard questions about the wisdom of going up against much of the rest of the world to support the continuing and rapidly expanding colonization of Palestine, merely to keep from losing pro-Zionist political funding from the Democratic Party (and Obama 2012), and see those funds go to the GOP instead, especially the far right GOP, which is already increasingly being funded by rich Christian Zionists.  His persistence is encouraging other journalists to realize he has not been taken out for his honesty.  So, now more journalists at State Department briefings are following him up.  And – to bring back the word – the State Department is sounding increasingly, uh – incoherent.

It is extremely incoherent to threaten to de-fund UNESCO’s hundreds of important programs worldwide, merely because they agree with most of the rest of the world on an important human rights issue.

Unfortunately, it is just going to get more bizarrely incoherent in these matters, as we approach next year’s election.

hat tip – Philip Weiss

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 →

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"?

Proof of Murder Aboard the Mavi Marmara?

1:20 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I was going through the footage released Thursday at the UN by culturesofresistance.org, taking screen shots of important events and scenes, when I noticed a series of what sound like 9mm shots, minutes after the vessel had capitulated. The sun is about to come up.

They begin at 56:03 on the 1:02:13 long version posted at The Seminal Friday. The shots are very troubling. I cannot think of any reason for them having occurred at that time that fits the Israeli chronology, at least what little they have so far felt they had to release.

The screen shots I’ve gotten tell a powerfully different story than the ongoing narrative. I have more hope, having watched this entire video twice now, that the future flotillas can learn faster on how to deal with the IDF than can the IDF learn its job.

I’ll be posting the screen shots, once I’ve gotten them edited.

Meanwhile, look at the ten seconds following 56:03. Walk back through the 40 seconds preceding it, and you can see unmistakable signs of total capitulation and resignation.

What do you think those rounds being fired at that time meant?

The MV Rachel Corrie Has Set Sail for Gaza

12:32 pm in Culture, Foreign Policy, Politics by EdwardTeller

The 1,200-ton cargo vessel, MV Rachel Corrie, laden with a hold full of "much-needed reconstruction material, medical equipment, and school supplies, " has untied from a dock in Dundalk Ireland, and has now faced its bow toward the Straits of Gibraltar. It will be joined by seven other vessels, with their similar cargoes, and about 600 passengers, including some of the world’s leading peace and human rights activists.

Two navies, the two most powerful in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, are likely to get involved in the last leg of the voyage to the Gaza coast – The Turkish Navy and, of course, the Israeli Navy. Turkey’s Prime Minister, Tayyib Erdogan, recently expressed his support for “breaking the oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip…which is at the top of Turkey’s list of priorities." His belief that the blockade should be broken may be reinforced by the resolve of a proud government that was intentionally humiliated by Israeli diplomats back in January, "torpedoing" Turko-Israeli relations, as the web site Tikun Olam then put it.

Earlier in May, "John Ging, the Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza, …. called upon the international community to break the siege on the Gaza Strip by sending ships loaded with desperately needed supplies to the beleaguered territory. "We believe that Israel will not intercept these vessels because the sea is open, and human rights organizations have been successful in similar previous operations proving that breaking the siege of Gaza is possible."

But the Israeli Navy is training for a confrontation of a far larger scale than what they have crudely dealt with in past open attempts to break the illegal and cruel blockade:

ISRAEL IN TRAINING TO BLOCK FREEDOM FLOTILLA
May 13, 2010 by irishingaza
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel’s naval forces are allegedly in training to prepare to seize eight boats scheduled to dock in the Gaza Strip on 24 May from Europe, Arabic-language media reported on Wednesday.

“About half of the Israeli naval forces will participate in an operation that was approved by the cabinet. [Israeli] Defense Minister Ehud Barak will supervise the operation,” an Israeli official told the Arabic-language satellite TV station Al-Hurra.

An Israeli security source told Ma’an that authorities will prevent the arrival of the boats “at any price.”

The Freedom Fleet is scheduled to set sail from the UK, Greece and Turkey. The European Free Gaza campaign said Israeli authorities informed them that the flotillas would be prevented from docking in Gaza.

The boats will be loaded with prefabricated homes, cement, and medicine and will be accompanied by 600 individuals in a bid to break the siege on Gaza.

On Sunday, Jamal Al-Khudari, head of Gaza’s Popular Committee Against the Siege, said Israeli threats to open fire at the boats reveal Israel’s weakness.

“Such threats reflect the occupation’s failure and embody state terrorism against peaceful individuals who come to support a people under siege and aggression,” a statement issued by Al-Khudari said.

Under international law, the activists attempting to dock in Gaza have the right to participate in breaking the siege, Al-Khudari added, saying the threats will not deter participants from arriving in Gaza.

The popular committee organizer said the group was coming well-equipped, and would be ready should the Israeli navy surround them for a long period of time.

The Freedom Flotilla announced plans in late April, saying a group of ships would depart from several corners of the Mediterranean and gather in international waters with the intent to deliver some 5,000 tons of building and medical supplies to the population under siege.

According to flotilla organizers, 600 activists will sail three cargo ships and five passenger boats for Gaza in what a statement called the “biggest internationally coordinated effort to directly challenge Israeli’s ongoing occupation, aggression, and violence against the Palestinian people.”

I’ll be following this story closely. I was informed last week, that some of the crew loading the MV Rachel Corrie, have been playing MP3s of The Skies Are Weeping as they work.

My heart, along with my music, is with all the hundreds of peace activists who are involved in this humanitarian effort.