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Hamas presents its “price tag”

1:52 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

 

The US has said the shelling of a UN shelter in Gaza is “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible”. In its strongest criticism yet of Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian territory, the US – Israel’s closest ally – also said the civilian casualties were “too high”. It urged Israel to do more to protect civilian life. BBC News

The European Union on Thursday condemned the shelling of a United Nations school and crowded Gaza market the previous day, urging an immediate probe into the “unacceptable” deaths of civilians. “It is unacceptable that innocent displaced civilians, who were taking shelter in designated UN areas after being called on by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes, have been killed,” the EU’s diplomatic service said in a statement. Agence France-Presse

I’m no fan of Hamas, quite the contrary. But Israel’s attempt to put all the blame on Hamas is outrageous. The international community will soon judge this war’s atrocities. Hamas may be reprimanded, deservedly, but Israel will be condemned and ostracized far more. And then Israelis will say, ‘It’s Hamas’ fault. And the world will laugh. Haaretz

AIPAC rules. It’s the Jewish community’s National Rifle Association, which also uses its clout against children. To be fair, it is not the Jewish community that AIPAC represents but the organized Jewish community, a small minority of Jews. I still believe that most American Jews, always progressive and humanitarian, have not abandoned 3000 years of Jewish history and tradition to support this barbarism. M. J. Rosenberg

The story here is not the condemnations themselves, but how long they took in coming and how little space they initially receive in the American media and how that was organized… That is the real story of the Gaza “war” (massacre).

I am about to turn 70, and when I was a boy Jewish people were, for me, Albert Einstein, Arthur Rubinstein, Sandy Koufax and Sid Caesar… Today, I’m sorry to say, they are: Binyamin Netanyahu, AIPAC and Sheldon Adelson… way to go Israel, Mazel tov.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

My Gaza rant (part two)

3:43 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

Gaza
photo mmansour

To whom it may concern:

“Oppressed beneath the weight of their own corruption and of military violence, they for a long while preserved the sentiments, or at least the ideas of their free-born ancestors” Edward Gibbon – “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”

Relevant quotes:

“There is no more Palestine. Finished . . .” Moshe Dayan As quoted in TIME Magazine (30 July 1973)

“We don’t have a solution, and you will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants will go, and will see how this procedure will work out.” Moshe Dayan speaking of the Palestinians, in Mehiro shel Ihud (Revivim, 1985) by Yossi Beilin, p. 42

“Um-Shmum” David Ben Gurion

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

My Gaza Rant

10:39 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

Dov Lior, the rabbi of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, has issued a religious ruling permitting the total destruction of Gaza if Israel’s military leaders deem it necessary. Lior is considered one of the more extreme rabbis on the religious right. In his ruling, he wrote (…) “The defense minister may even order the destruction of Gaza so that the south should no longer suffer, and to prevent harm to members of our people who have long been suffering from the enemies surrounding us,” he wrote. Haaretz

A statement like the above in the mouth of say, Harry Truman, would have been rather normal during World War II; the days of Hiroshima and the fire bombing of Dresden and might even make sense in today’s Israel… that is if Israel were in any danger of being overrun and destroyed by her many enemies… but that is far, far, from the case.

Leaving moral reservation’s aside, Israel’s reaction is purely hysterical and enormously counterproductive to their interests, both long and short term.

This hysteria is what frightens me most.

One of the things that worries me most is that, having the Iron Dome anti-rocket system that destroys over 90% of incoming missiles the Israelis don’t have the sense to hunker down and sweat it out till the blockaded Hamas runs out of rockets, just using drones etc to keep the Hamas fighters off balance…

Because with their monumental lack of sangfroid they have allowed Hamas to sucker them into a street by street, house by house, toe to toe, man to man, infantry battle, where all their technological advantages are neutralized. The Palestinian’s secret weapon, their greatest war resource in the long run is their birthrate and their willingness to die for their cause. They are using these strategic advantages now.

Although the ratio of casualties is around ten to one the IDF is taking what by hysterical, Israeli standards are very heavy casualties and what is much more important in the long run, they are getting the sort of worldwide “baby killer” reputation that did so much damage to America’s prestige and influence during the war in Vietnam… And Israel is far from being as unsinkable as the USA… and perhaps more important… the mechanisms by which the tail wags the dog in Israel’s relationship with America are getting creakingly obvious to even the dullest American wits.

 Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

The Israelis are playing with fire…

7:35 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

Nick Cook, 36, of Grand Ledge did two tours in Iraq and, as an Army troop commander, lost five soldiers. “For me, it’s very upsetting,” he said, “I watch what’s happening there. My first six months, it was very intense fighting in Baghdad, but then there was prosperity and good news. And to see that now on the verge of collapse, and knowing I lost five soldiers, it’s very hard. These kids may have died in vain.” (…) It also was a costly war financially for the U.S. The war will eventually cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion, including long-term care for wounded veterans, according to a 2013 study by the Costs of War project, based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. Detroit Free Press

“If people don’t do politics, others will do it for you. And when others do it for you, they can steal your rights, your democracy and your wallet.” Pablo Iglesias – Podemos

The Middle East now has been torn apart by American invasions and attacks, and careless ideas about how to remake other peoples’ lives according to our own ideas about how they should live and behave and believe. It’s been like the Huns passing through: millions are dead, cities in ruins, the Muslims at war with one another. Iraq and Syria, and probably Jordan, as they exist today, and possibly Lebanon, may never recover from this. The Arabs will survive, and one day Palestine and ancient Syria and Mesopotamia will undoubtedly be reconstituted. Israel? It has existed as a modern state for little more than six decades, although it too existed in antiquity. Will modern Israel still exist at the end of this century? After all that has, and will, happen? I wonder what is the answer. William Pfaff

Through their actions, young American Jews can shape the way a Jewish state wields power. And how Jews behave with power represents a post facto referendum on the Jewish ethical tradition itself. We should tell them that if they believe Jews possess a special passion for justice, they must prove it. And they must prove it in Israel, because although justice is endangered in the United States and all over the world, only in Israel is the Jewish people’s honor at stake. Peter Beinart – Haaretz

Things change if people make them change.

Things have changed since the American people were encouraged to put Vietnam behind them and “move on”. The “gate keeper” function of  “mainstream media” which worked mightily to that end is, if not dead, very, very sick and not expected to recover… especially when confronting something as stubborn as Middle Eastern reality.

Unlike “manufactured consent” social media opinion  today is largely grassroots, village-like. It is a  sullen, brooding, self-confirming, bench tested, consensus, slow to build, hard to budge and in this sense “authentic”.

Many commentators discount the sullen power of public opinion, this is most unwise. Publicists and think tanks can spend billions trying to convince the public that the sky is green and the grass is blue, but to no effect, finally their efforts boil down to Redd Fox’s cheating wife, who, when caught in the act, tells her furious husband, “go on, believe your goddamn, lying eyes!“.

This is now the case of American public opinion and the Middle East. Liberal-Interventionists can whine and Neocons can howl, but Americans have had enough of the Middle East, they will not be easily dragged back there again to spend blood and treasure poring sand down a rat hole and will resent mightily anyone who tries to drag them back.

Netanyahu and the settlers should not press their luck much farther, if Israel negotiates a two state solution with the Palestinians and pulls back to something like the 1967 borders, I believe that Americans would still be willing and still be able to defend that status with decisive armed force and considerable soft power, but that is certainly not the direction things are moving. What I don’t think is that Americans will agree to sending their sons and daughters to die defending apartheid and ethnic cleansing or agree to pay for that out of their taxes. Time is running out.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com/

The Iran deal

2:07 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

Things may unravel but at least there is hope. Perhaps this is what is most threatening to Netanyahu. He has never been willing to test the Palestinians in a serious way — test their good faith, test ending the humiliations of the occupation, test from strength the power of justice and peace. He has preferred domination, preferred the Palestinians down and under pressure. Obama and Kerry have invited Netanyahu to think again — and not just about Iran. Nothing, to judge by the hyperventilating Israeli rhetoric, could be more disconcerting. Roger Cohen – New York Times

If a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear issue is blocked and war follows, Israel will be accused of dragging America into a conflict. But if Mr Netanyahu confronts the Obama administration through the US Congress – and loses – the fabled power of the Israel lobby may never be quite the same again. Gideon Rachman – Financial Times

High political drama is in the offing, it appears that the President of the United States has (with appropriate deviousness) lured Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into a decisive political battle on a battlefield of the president’s choosing; with world political opinion on Obama’s side and the American people recently having firmly signaled the US Congress their strongest reluctance to any more military involvement in the Middle East.

Obama just might win this one.

At this point what I find most truly interesting about the Iran deal as how secretly it was worked up… and that the Israelis apparently were kept in the dark… This is leading to a direct conflict between the United States and Israel… If Obama loses this test of strength, nothing much will have changed, every US president who has ever confronted them directly, has been defeated by the AIPAC or had their careers ruined, (with the exception of Eisenhower, when he pinned their ears back during the Suez crisis), but if Obama wins, that victory will mark a sea change in American politics.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

Israel: the fiddler fiddles while the roof burns

10:31 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

Samson pulls down the temple (in Gaza, no less)

Henry Kissinger famously wished that the Bible had been written in Uganda…

Israel has never been richer, safer, more culturally productive or more dynamic. Terrorism is on the wane. Yet the occupation grinds on next door with little attention to its consequences. Moreover, as the power balance has shifted from the European elite, Israel has never felt more Middle Eastern in its popular culture, music and public displays of religion. Yet it is increasingly cut off from its region, which despises it perhaps more than ever.(…) Some have likened Israel to the deck of the Titanic. That may not be right, but you can’t help wondering about that next iceberg. Ethan Bronner – New York Times

In this post I simply want to note my sense of foreboding, which this snippet from the New York Times encapsulates.

Readers of my blog will remember that I spent a very formative year of my youth working, living and loving in Israel… Henry Kissinger’s wish that Israel had been established anywhere but the Middle East fits my sentiments exactly. What a wonderful country it could have been if it had truly been “a land without people, for a people without land” instead of the result of an ethnic cleansing and ongoing repression and humiliation whose ensuing rage has awakened the world of Islam from its slumbers and united millions of disparate peoples in their thirst for revenge.

The energy, the vivaciousness, the creativity of a people central to the narrative of civilization, are day by day creating a massive tragedy for themselves and the rest of humanity.

Here is how the American Heritage Dictionary defines “tragedy”

A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances.

The NYT article gives a perfect description of the curious, Club Med world of its own, where the Israelis contemplate their navels in the shadows of a sun kissed “Götterdämmerung”, a word which Merriam Webster defines as:

A collapse (as of a society or regime) marked by catastrophic violence and disorder

I believe that it will be impossible for the world to assimilate or process what is about to unfold. It is difficult for me to express the heaviness of my heart.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

Obama’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem… yada yada yada

11:37 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

The US is hoping that Obama’s positive first trip will reinvigorate peace efforts, though most settlers are not worried. They see the composition of the new Israeli cabinet as a reassurance that Israeli policy will move away from peace negotiations. Christian Science Monitor

Obama’s visit to Israel was strictly for domestic American consumption, because unless the president and Netanyahu took a decision on when to attack or not attack Iran or intervene in Syria’s civil war, which they could have done by telephone, his trip was strictly a public relations exercise, certainly it wont affect the “Peace Process” or lead to Palestinian statehood.

The much talked about “Two State Solution” is not stalled or even dead, it never existed: it and the “Peace Process” said to leading to the founding of a “viable, contiguous, Palestinian state”,  or even a Bantustan, was never more than a way of stalling, killing time, running out the clock. Israel has been waiting for a moment that now appears to be fast approaching: the disintegration of the Middle East as the west has known it since the end of World War One. In a short time all of the borders that were designed during the First World War by Britain and France  to suit western interests, will now probably become undefined, fluid if not gaseousjust as Israel’s own borders are.

You may not have noticed, but Israel’s frontiers have been undefined since 1967. The objective of the Israelis in avoiding the “Two State Solution” is  to not define them “prematurely”, before all the pieces on board start to move.  In times like these, the last thing the Israelis want is to be the only ones with firmly drawn frontiers when all other borders in the Middle East are going to be negotiable. The settlers are not an “obstacle to peace”, they are merely an excuse for Israel not to define those frontiers.

This Middle Eastern disintegration has been a long time coming and perfectly foreseeable by anyone as cool headed and long headed as the Israelis. The neocon led invasion of Iraq with its “real men go to Tehran” leitmotif, was itself a desperate, Hail Mary pass, attempt to control the events that are now taking place with that certain spontaneity of what looks like a historically driven process.

“What we’re seeing here is, in a sense, the growing—the birth pangs of a new Middle East, and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we’re pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old Middle East”. Condoleezza Rice – 2006

Just in case you don’t know what the “old Middle East” looked like, check this map… As you can see, it’s mostly about Turkey and Iran… Not many borders visible except theirs and Britain’s protectorates and today the British, who used to control Egypt, are no longer players… and as you may have noticed lately, America’s once smothering grip on the area is fading fast.
Map-ME-1914
At this moment Syria is literally disintegrating, spewing nearly half a million refugees into tiny, neighboring  Jordan, where the Palestinian majority is permanently restless and the influence of the Muslim brotherhood is growing. The Muslim Brotherhood controls Egypt and Hamas in Gaza is an offshoot of the Brotherhood; and then there is always Al Qaeda which is growing exponentially in the Syrian conflict. So much for the Sunnis

As to the Shiites: Iran besides working diligently on developing atomic capabilities is fighting a proxy war alongside Assad in Syria, is the major power influence in Iraq and is heavily arming  Shiite Hezbollah on Israel’s Lebanese border…

What could the Israelis expect to achieve as all this comes unraveled and the shooting starts?

Simple: they could ethnically cleanse Judea, Samaria, Gaza (and maybe Israel itself too while they are at it) all in the midst of the confusion of a military free for all.  Chaos with thousands of refugees simultaneously in movement everywhere… and when the dust settles, let the Palestinians establish their “viable and contiguous state” on the ruins of the Jordanian monarchy as a Sunni buffer between Israel and Shiite Iraq… if they so desire.

Who thought all this up? Ariel Sharon, I should imagine, who else?

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

The Israeli elections

2:17 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

“This is a government that will not be able to make decisions on anything — on the peace process, on equal sharing of the burden or on budgetary matters,” Emmanuel Rosen, a prominent television analyst, said early Wednesday on Channel 10. “The next elections are already on the horizon.” New York Times

All the cliches about Israel come to mind here: two Israelis mean three opinions, or the land of a hundred ghettos. In fact what you have is one of the west’s most unequal societies, a collective of people who range from what is left of the founding Zionist families, on through opportunistic Russian money launderers, to Yemenite and Moroccan sub-proletarians, none of them particularly religious, all seasoned with mostly American Haredim that “sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them”… nor serveth they in the Israeli armed forces, neither payeth they taxes either, by the way.

 

All of this mishmash directly connected to the masculine attributes of the US Congress.

 

I lived in Tel Aviv for a year and I loved the place, a sexy Mediterranean climate and beach filled with some of the world’s most attractive women, all with the energy of New York. I had to go to Jerusalem almost every other day (I was a budding paparazzo)… horrible place, filled with priests and rabbis and soldiers with guns. And I came to the following conclusion: If the Arabs ever declared peace on the Israelis and left them strictly alone, with no external enemies, the country would tear itself apart in civil strife and probably disappear in a very short time. All that is holding them together are their enemies…

 

They would be crazy to want peace.

 

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com

Palestine at the UN

12:24 pm in Uncategorized by David Seaton

Some commentators have said the UN vote, which, by a massive majority, gave Palestine observer status is meaningless… Meaningless?

Now, for starters, we finally are not talking about a stateless “PLO” or the “Palestinian people”, we are talking about “Palestine“, a country that now actually and officially exists as a sovereign state, although its territory is totally occupied and subjugated and slowly being colonized, by another state, Israel.

The Israelis, of course act as if nothing had happened, in fact to show their contempt for the UN vote they have authorized the construction of 3,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, only a day after the UN upgraded the Palestinians’ status.

As always any body or anybody that backs Israel into a political or humanitarian corner immediately ceases to be “a credible mediator”, or “partner for peace”, that is the general hasbara line and always has been. Nothing new here, except it wont work anymore.

The significance of the UN vote is that as of now, the vast majority of the world’s sovereign states, with their vote, or with their abstention, have simply told Israel that it ceases to have that special status of political and moral immunity that it has hidden behind until now.

Even Germany abstained!

That is how much moral legitimacy Israel has lost; Germany dared to abstain!

Not important? To begin with the UN vote is a universal slap down of American hypocrisy and the US role in the pantomime “peace process”… It also drains a lot of energy from the march to war with Iran.

But, in my opinion the most important thing the UN vote does is to firmly underline the validity and continuing relevance of the post – six day war, UN Resolution-242, which most Israelis consider a joke.

Now the West Bank territories that are illegally occupied by Israeli troops and “settlers” are clearly the legitimate property of a people whose existence and rights as the citizens of a universally recognized, but illegally occupied, state have now been overwhelmingly validated by the “international community”…

This leads us to the point that most worries the Israelis: the possibility that the state of Palestine will take the state of Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. And well the Israelis may worry: for decades they have been in flagrant violation of international law as an occupying power with hundreds of well documented incidents, each of which could lead to international arrest warrants.

The UN vote has made it clear that if Israel doesn’t change its ways, it is about to gain apartheid-South African-pos-Milosevic-Serbian status. This will certainly complicate things for them in dealing with their only friendly neighbors and major trading partner, the EU, both culturally and commercially.

Because Israel is about to replace apartheid South Africa as a universal pariah.

Not important? I cannot think of any comparable disaster in the entire history of modern Israel.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com.es

Fatah’s corruption is the origin of Hamas’s power

11:14 am in Uncategorized by David Seaton

I posted the following to my blog on Wednesday, June 20, 2007 and reading it today, I find it rather prophetic… I wish all my old posts were this well aimed.


Fatah’s corruption is the origin of Hamas’s power – June 20, 2007

In contemplating the Hamas takeover of Gaza, observers seem to be missing something obvious: Hamas has just produced a de facto “two state solution”… history’s first example of a “free Palestine”. Gaza is now governed by the winner of what international observers considered at the time a “model” democratic election and they are untainted in Arab eyes by subservience to Washington. At the same time, on the West Bank, the “other” Palestine, is still effectively controlled by the Israelis and their “separation wall”, private roads, checkpoints and growing settlements, all of which makes president, Mohammed Abbas look like little more than an American puppet charged with protecting Israeli lives and property. In Gaza, as Tony Karon, a senior editor of Time Magazine and expert on Middle Eastern affairs wrote, “Having trounced Fatah on the polls, Hamas now moved to trounce them on the streets,” using what Jimmy Carter called Hamas’s, “superior skills and discipline.”

It wasn’t Palestinian religious fervor that opened the doors for Hamas, it was Hamas’s honesty and Fatah’s corruption. The strategy the “west” has decided to follow now is to strangle Hamas and fatten Fatah. This is difficult because Hamas needs very little to get by and Fatah’s proven capacity to engulf donor’s money uselessly is limitless. A basic principal is at work here that explains the fall of Fatah and the rise of Hamas: when public servants are honest and hardworking it is surprising how much can be done with little money, but crooked politicians are a literally a bottomless pit. If the United States, Israel and the hapless European Union, were intelligent they would shower money on Hamas, hoping to corrupt them in the same way they did Fatah during the “Peace Process”. Hamas’s strategy is simple, as Ahmed Yousef the political adviser to the democratically elected Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya, explained in the New York Times, “We have begun disarming the drug dealers and the armed gangs and we hope to restore a sense of security and safety to the citizens of Gaza. We want to get children back to school, get basic services functioning again. (…) Our sole focus is Palestinian rights and good governance.”

The “international community”, by encouraging the Palestinian split, are giving Hamas and Fatah each their separate, universally publicized, chemically pure showcase: one for Hamas to demonstrate disciplined sacrifice and another for Fatah to demonstrate feckless larceny. This may have the unintended result of publicizing the Muslim Brotherhood style of government all over the endemically corrupt Middle East: something that could destabilize the west’s “moderate” allies in the region.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com.es/2007/06/fatahs-corruption-is-origin-of-hamass.html