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Syrian Rebel Idris: Israel “Enemy Country” to Rebels

6:11 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Hey, AIPAC — you sure you want to be cozying up to these guys?

Back in May, the Syrian rebel commander who deals the most with the West, Salim Idris, went on record (video, in fact) as stating that Israel is an “enemy country”.

A partial transcript is below.

May 8, 2013 Clip No. 3835

Free Syrian Army Chief of Staff Salim Idris: Israel Is an Enemy Country; With Proper Weapons, We Can Topple Al-Assad within 40 Days

Following are excerpts from an interview with Free Syrian Army Chief of Staff Brigadier-General Salim Idris, which aired on Al-Jazeera Network, on May 8, 2013:

Salim Idris: As for us being Israeli collaborators – the only Israeli collaborator in the region is the criminal Bashar. The Israeli collaborators are the people who put on the show of the 2006 war – Hizbullah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah. They diverted all their forces to the slaughtering of Syrians. Their scheme is totally clear. They used to hide behind the pretext of resistance and the fight against Israel, but now it has become clear that they are implementing a sectarian, Iranian, Safavid plan in the region.


If [we] get the necessary weapons and ammunition, we will be capable of toppling the regime in less than 40 days. My brothers, the rebels, know I’m not just bragging.


Israel is an enemy country. I say this loud and clear. It occupies Syrian lands. The FSA will not change its position regarding that country before [Israel] withdraws from the Syrian lands, and recognizes the legitimate rights of the Arab Palestinian people. [Then] we will abide by the decision of the Arab people of Syria.


This is the guy who the Saudis and their hangers-on think is the politer, more polished and professional part of the rebel side — as opposed to the ones who eat their foes and are proud to say so. He’s so polished and slick that he’s probably going to be whisked to Capitol Hill soon to testify before Congress.

Anyone think he’ll be asked if he still thinks that Israel is an enemy country?

Paris, 1968. Teheran, 1980. Tel Aviv, 2012?

7:01 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The person calling himself “Mobutu Sese Seko”, but who most manifestly is not the late Congolese dictator, is in my opinion one of Gawker’s better and more perceptive writers, and he just hit another home run, in the course of discussing Mitt Romney’s all-too-likely illegal foreign policy collusions with his best bud Bibi Netanyahu. While delineating that misdeed, he then cites two others committed by Republican presidential candidates:

… In 1968, with the expectation of a plum position in the Nixon administration, Henry Kissinger persuaded the south Vietnamese to spike the Paris peace talks with unreasonable demands, promising a better deal under a GOP administration. About a half decade and 20,000 dead Americans later, Kissinger brokered an accord like the one he’d scuppered illegally. But it had already served its purpose: Kissinger destroyed Hubert Humphrey’s peace strategy and a huge 1968 campaign plank. Lyndon Johnson refused to publicly condemn Nixon and Kissinger for doing something incredibly fucking illegal (under the Logan Act), lest he be seen to use the office of the president to aggressively campaign for a successor or divulge the shady means with which his evidence had been gathered.

And if that example feels too quaintly historical or insufficiently Middle Easty, there are always the more recent depredations against truth and policy, like announcing Mission Accomplished 40 days after a war’s commencement and eight-and-half years before its end—but only one year before an election.

He left out another infamous electorally-inspired meddling — to wit, Reagan’s October Surprise from 1980: Read the rest of this entry →

Goldstone’s Cave-In Doesn’t Get The Likudniks Off His Back

11:28 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

After years of being harrassed, being called a “bad Jew”, and seeing even his grandson attacked by the hasbara wing of the Likudniks and their fellow travelers, poor Richard Goldstone has, much as Salman Rushdie did under similar pressure, apparently cracked and is begging them to leave him alone.

How else does one explain this recanting of his, wherein he doesn’t explain exactly what made him change his mind — but instead tries to change the subject from crimes committed by the IDF to rocket attacks launched from Gaza?

Mondoweiss shreds his recanting into tiny bits, here, here, and here.

And of course, just as Salman Rushdie’s tormentors only redoubled their persecution of him in response to his capitulation, Goldstone’s tormentors are stepping up their attacks on Goldstone and his work:

Goldstone’s latest op-ed is something else altogether.  It does not challenge a single concrete finding in the entire report, and he has not conceded absolutely anything to his critics in that way.  In fact, his findings under severe constraints have held up remarkably well with time.  But the tone and timing of this current piece suggest that somehow the report should be “reconsidered”, that it was somehow wrong.  Moreover, his comments seem to intentionally mislead about the content of the UN independent committee’s findings on due process in Israel.  This is nothing more than a bone to Israel’s apologists, which is deeply misleading for all the reasons discussed here.  I am afraid this is a sad, integrity-damaging turn for a man who had singlehandedly done so much to protect people from war crimes in Israel, Palestine, and elsewhere.

And he should have known better, that is, he should have known that this craven gesture to Israel would not allow his enemies to forgive him and welcome him back to the broader Jewish community.  Already the enemies, sensing weakness, attack for the final kill attempt.  Jeffrey Goldberg, with the tone of the intellectual gatekeeper he fashions for himself, makes it clear this doesn’t change the “blood libel.”  The editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, David Horovitz, tells Goldstone “an apology is not good enough“.  We can expect much, much more of such attacks.

Once again, trying to appease right-wing authoritarian nutjobs never works, ever.

(Crossposted at Mercury Rising.)

Turnabouts and Memory Jogs

9:07 am in banality of evil, Foreign Policy, Politics by Phoenix Woman

Remember how prominent Republicans and conservatives were largely publicly silent about Pat Buchanan’s well-documented bigotry, particularly his anti-Semitism, until after he came out against the Iraq War? (Of course, once Pitchfork Pat did a 180 and backed the war effort, he was once again back in the good graces of the GOP/Media Complex, a TV pundit in good standing.)

Now we’re seeing a similar scene play out, this time with regard to Turkey. The same people who got Mark Arax fired from his 20-year job at the Los Angeles Times for his attempt to tell the story of the Armenian genocide committed by Turkey early in the previous century (and the efforts of people like ADL’s Abe Foxman to sweep the story under the rug), are now suddenly quite vocally condemning Turkey for this same genocide.

What happened? The Gaza flotillas happened. (That, and Turkey’s refusal to do what America did in 1967 — that is, accept the wholesale murder of its citizens in international waters without so much as a public murmur. But I digress.) Here’s the scoop:

On the surface, this would seem unremarkable. As victims of the Holocaust, Jews might be expected to stand beside the Armenians and their tragedy. After all, the massacres and death marches across Anatolia during the fog of World War I became a model for Hitler himself.

But this sudden embrace of the Armenian Genocide actually marks a shameless turnaround for the major American Jewish organizations. For decades, they have helped Turkey cover up its murderous past. Each year, the Israel lobby in the U.S. has played a quiet but pivotal role in pressuring Congress, the State Department and successive presidents to defeat simple congressional resolutions commemorating the 1.5 million Armenian victims.

Genocide denial is not a pretty thing, they now concede, but they did it for Israel. They did it out of gratitude for Turkey being Israel’s one and only Muslim ally.

Now the game has changed. Israel and Turkey are locked in a feud over the Palestine-bound flotilla that was intercepted on the high seas by Israel. Turkey is outraged over the killing of nine of its citizens on board. Israel is outraged that a country with Turkey’s past would dare judge the morality of the Jewish state.

So the Armenian Genocide has become a new weapon in the hands of Israel and its supporters in the U.S., a way to threaten Turkey, a conniver’s get-even: Hey, Turkey, if you want to play nasty with Israel, if you want to lecture us about violations of human rights, we can easily go the other way on the Armenian Genocide. No more walking the halls of Congress to plead your shameful case.

And there you go.

NPR Runs With IDF Slander Against IHH — Days After It Was Debunked

7:09 am in Foreign Policy, Media by Phoenix Woman

I woke up this morning to hear NPR commentators tell me that IHH, the Turkish charity that coordinated the Gaza Freedom Flotillas, was — wait for it — connected by French Intelligence to Al-Qaeda!

(Pause for Dramatic Prairie Dog.)

Too bad the whole thing’s bullshit. Not only that, it was bullshit that was shown to be such well before the NPR story hit the airwaves.

First off, the IDF was forced four flipping days ago to tacitly retract their original press release linking the flotilla to Al-Qaeda after Max Blumenthal did this thing called "investigative reporting":

Not content to believe that night vision goggles signal membership in Al Qaeda, reporter Lia Tarachansky of The Real News Network and I called the IDF press office to ask for more conclusive evidence. Tarachansky reached the IDF’s Israel desk, interviewing a spokesperson in Hebrew; I spoke with the North America desk, using English. We both received the same reply from Army spokespeople: “We don’t have any evidence. The press release was based on information from the [Israeli] National Security Council.” (The Israeli National Security Council is Netanyahu’s kitchen cabinet of advisors).

But that’s not the worst of it. That honor goes to the "French intelligence report", which doesn’t actually exist. Here’s the skinny on that, courtesy of Elise Hendrick. Sit back crack a cold one, and get comfy, because it’s a long and twisted tale:

Read the rest of this entry →

IDF Information Blockade Fails: Growing Number of Flotilla Survivors Debunk IDF’s Massacre Story

12:03 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The Israeli government’s trying to keep the international press away from the survivors of the IDF attack on the Freedom Flotilla that is carrying wheelchairs and water purifiers to the besieged land of Gaza.

By imposing an information blockade, the Israeli government hopes to protect its current story justifying its attack on an unarmed humanitarian vessel in international waters — namely, the claim that the flotilla members dared to attack first and/or defend themselves against armed and trained IDF commandos by using pipe wrenches.

In order to prop up this storyline, the Israeli government has been trying to deny the international media access to the flotilla survivors — but their effort to create an information blockade is failing.

First off, video evidence shows that the IDF fired the first shots — and in international waters (h/t CTuttle):

…two journalists provide a play-by-play of the harrowing event as pops and cracks echo in the background. Even before the Israeli forces were aboard, one says, they were pelting the boat with tear gas and stun grenades, injuring numerous people.

Then he confirms the first death, saying the individual was killed by "munitions," but not specifying whether it was a bullet or something else. Then he confirms that Israeli forces were boarding the ship.

Another of the reporters featured in the video works for the Iranian network Press TV. "We are being hit by tear gas, stun grenades, we have navy ships on either side, helicopters overhead," he said. "We are being attacked from every single side. This is in international waters, not Israeli waters, not in the 68-mile exclusion zone. We are being attacked in international waters completely illegally."

"The organizers are telling me now, they are raising a white flag — they are raising a white flag to the Israeli army," the Al Jazeera reporter said. "This is after one person has been killed; a civilian has been killed by munition. That number could be more … Despite the white flag being raised, despite the white flag being raised, the Israeli army is still shooting, still firing live munitions."

Second off, a growing number of flotilla survivors have evaded the information blockade to tell their stories — stories that directly contradict the IDF’s claims and staged videos. Among them is an Israeli Knesset member:

Hanin Zoabi, a member of the Israeli parliament, was on board the Miva Marmara, the ship that was the scene of the confrontation between activists and Israeli soldiers. The Israeli Navy fired on the ships five minutes before commandos descended from ropes that dangled from helicopters, Zoabi said during a news conference in Nazareth, Israel. She said passengers on board the ship were unarmed.

And from AFP via Zawya, we hear from three German citizens, all of whom are either current or former members of the Bundestag, Germany’s Parliament:

Three visibly shaken Germans who experienced at first hand a deadly raid by the Israeli military on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza denied on Tuesday that anyone on board was armed.

"The Israeli government justifies the raid because they were attacked. This is absolutely not the case," former member of parliament Norman Paech, 72, wrapped in a blue blanket, told reporters in Berlin.


His comments were backed up by two others on board the convoy when it was raided at dawn on Monday in international waters, MPs Inge Hoeger, 59, and Annette Groth, 56.

And The Guardian has more eyewitness accounts from flotilla survivors further contradicting the IDF’s official story:

"It was extremely bad and very tough clashes took place. The Mavi Marmara is filled with blood," said [Turkish activist Nilufer ] Cetin, whose husband is the Mavi Marmara’s chief engineer.

She told reporters that she and her child hid in the bathroom of their cabin during the confrontation. "The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn’t stop these warnings turned into an attack," she said.

"There were sound and smoke bombs and later they used gas bombs. Following the bombings they started to come on board from helicopters."

Cetin is among a handful of Turkish activists to be released; more than 300 remain in Israeli custody. She said she agreed to extradition from Israel after she was warned that conditions in jail would be too harsh for her child.

"I am one of the first passengers to be sent home, just because I have baby. When we arrived at the Israeli port of Ashdod we were met by the Israeli interior and foreign ministry officials and police; there were no soldiers. They asked me only a few questions. But they took everything – cameras, laptops, cellphones, personal belongings including our clothes," she said.


Michalis Grigoropoulos, who was at the wheel of the Free Mediterranean, said: "We were in international waters. The Israelis acted like pirates, completely out of the normal way that they conduct nautical exercises, and seized our ship. They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads; they descended from helicopters and fired tear gas and bullets. There was absolutely nothing we could do … Those who tried to resist forming a human ring on the bridge were given electric shocks."

Grigoropoulos, who insisted the ship was full of humanitarian aid bound for Gaza "and nothing more", said that, once detained, the human rights activists were not allowed to contact a lawyer or the Greek embassy in Tel Aviv. "They didn’t let us go to the toilet, eat or drink water and throughout they videoed us. They confiscated everything, mobile phones, laptops, cameras and personal effects. They only allowed us to keep our papers."

UPDATE: Former Ambassador Edward Peck, who was part of the flotilla, reminds his MSNBC interviewer and the world that the IDF commandos, in addition to "paint guns", had automatic weapons, pepper spray, tear gas and other things which the people they attacked in international waters at four o’clock in the morning did not possess. This even as snippets of the carefully-edited IDF video played with uncredited bits of other videos in a split-screen shot.

US Suspends Arms Shipment to Israel over Gaza Offensive

11:05 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Wow. Could it be that the outgoing Bush Administration is doing the right thing for a change? Check this out:

The Pentagon has suspended the delivery of a shipload of munitions to Israel after international concern that it could be used by Israeli forces in Gaza.The German-owned cargo vessel, Wehr Elbe, under charter by the US Military Sea­lift Command, is currently in Greek waters with its transponder tracking turned off to prevent its location being identified.Amnesty International has written to the foreign secretary, David Miliband, asking him to make "urgent approaches to the US, German and Greek governments to prevent this, or any pending or future shipments of weaponry until it can be verified that they will not be transferred to the Israeli Defence Forces or other parties to the conflict in Gaza.