Posts tagged ‘Israel’
“Cablegate” to Date: A Unique List of What’s Been Revealed
By Greg Mitchell
from the Huffington Post
Many critics of WikiLeaks still, somehow, claim that there’s “nothing new” in the Cablegate releases (now stretching back to November 28), that most of the issues raised raised by the cables are old hat, and the impact (as in Tunisia, for example) overhyped. So it seems useful here, for the first time in easy to consider format, to assemble most of the major revelations. This seems especially valuable because the reporting is now scattered around the globe, often emerging from smaller papers.
At the outset, the cables were published by the media partners, not WikiLeaks itself. The New York Times made good on its promise to cover them hot and heavy for about ten days, while the Guardian did all that and more. But Times coverage quickly grew sporadic, the Guardian fell out with Assange (he has now turned to the Telegraph), while the Norwegian daily Aftenposten picked up some of the slack.
Here are brief summaries, listed chronologically, as they appeared. There are even more in my new book The Age of WikiLeaks. Not included are the shocking cables concerning Egypt released on January 27 and other recent bombshells:
-Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda.
-Saudis (and some other Middle Eastern states) pressed U.S. to take stronger action against Iran.
-Yemeni president lied to his own people, claiming his military carried out air strikes on militants actually done by U.S. All part of giving U.S. full rein in country against terrorists. Read more
Tea Party representative Rand Paul tells CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he has a lot of respect for Israel but he doesn’t believe the U.S. should be funding the Mideast arms race during financial crisis
U.S. Democrats and pro-Israel lobbies slammed on Thursday comments made by newly elected Republican Senator and Tea Party representative Rand Paul who suggested that the United States should halt all foreign aid including its financial aid to Israel.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday Paul said that “Reuters did a poll, and 71 percent of American people agree with me that when we’re short of money, where we can’t do the things we need to do in our country, we certainly shouldn’t be shipping the money overseas.”
When asked by Blitzer if he wanted to halt an annual $3 billion that go to Israel, Paul replied affirmatively, explaining that Egypt recieves almost the same amount .
“You have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides? I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Israel as a democratic nation, as, you know, a fountain of peace and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East. But at the same time, I don’t think funding both sides of the arm race, particularly when we have to borrow the money from China to send it to someone else. We just can’t do it anymore. The debt is all- consuming and it threatens our well-being as a country,” Paul said.
Pro-Israel Jewish lobby J Street issued a statement in response to Paul’s comments saying it was “alarmed” by his suggestion.
“Senator Paul’s proposal would undermine the decades-long bipartisan consensus on U.S. support for Israel. Any erosion of support should concern Israel’s friends on both sides of the political aisle, and we call in particular on leaders and donors in Senator Paul’s party to repudiate his comments and ensure that American leadership around the world is not threatened by this irresponsible proposal,” the statement issued by J Street read.
National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) President and CEO David Harris also condemned his statement saying that “Paul’s suggestion is negligent, shortsighted, and just plain wrong,” adding that “foreign aid in general, and aid to Israel in particular, is crucial to Israel’s security and its pursuit of peace. Senator Paul’s statement is yet another illustration of how the Republican Party continues to grow increasingly out of touch with the values of the vast majority of the American Jewish community.”
Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, called the initiative “shocking”.
“Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East and one of our most stalwart allies”, Lowey said. “A stable and secure Israel is in our national security interest and has been a staple of our foreign policy for more than sixty years. Using our budget deficit as a reason to abandon Israel is inexcusable. It is unclear to me whether Rand Paul speaks for the Tea Party, the Republican Party, or simply himself”.
Meanwhile, Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matthew Brooks issued a statement saying “we share Senator Paul’s commitment to restraining the growth of federal spending, but we reject his misguided proposal to end U.S. assistance to our ally, Israel.”
“Moreover, based on his comments in an interview with CNN, we are concerned that Senator Paul may not grasp the fundamentals of our alliance with Israel. In 2007, the U.S. and Israel signed a ten-year ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) to govern U.S. assistance going forward. A critical aim of the MoU was to preserve Israel’s qualitative military advantage. Accordingly, any concern that U.S. assistance might undermine Israel’s security is groundless,” Brooks said.
It was clear from the moment news of the flotilla attack emerged that Israel was taking extreme steps to suppress all evidence about what happened other than its own official version. They detained the flotilla passengers and barred the media from speaking with them, thus, as The NYT put it, “refusing to permit journalists access to witnesses who might contradict Israel’s version of events.” They detained the journalists who were on the ship for days and seized their film, video and cameras. And worst of all, the IDF — while still refusing to disclose the full, unedited, raw footage of the incident — quickly released an extremely edited video of their commandos landing on the ship, which failed even to address, let alone refute, the claim of the passengers: that the Israelis were shooting at the ship before the commandos were on board.
This campaign of suppression and propaganda worked to shape American media coverage (as state propaganda campaigns virtually always work on the gullible, authority-revering American media). The edited IDF video was shown over and over on American television without question or challenge. Israeli officials and Israel-devoted commentators appeared all over television — almost always unaccompanied by any Turkish, Palestinian or Muslim critics of the raid — to spout the Israeli version without opposition. Israel-centric pundits in America claimed, based on the edited IDF video, that anyone was lying who even reported on the statements of the passengers that Israeli fired first. In sum, that the Israelis used force only after the passengers attacked the commandos became Unquestioned Truth in American discourse.
But now that the passengers and journalists have been released from Israeli detention and are speaking out, a much different story is emerging. As I noted yesterday, numerous witnesses and journalists are describing Israeli acts of aggression, including the shooting of live ammunition, before the commandos landed. The New York Times blogger Robert Mackey today commendably compiles that evidence — I recommend it highly — and he writes: “now that the accounts of activists and journalists who were detained by Israel after the raid are starting to be heard, it is clear that their stories and that of the Israeli military do not match in many ways.” As Juan Cole says: “Many passengers have now confirmed that they were fired on even before the commandos had boots on the deck. Presumably it is this suppressive fire that killed or wounded some passengers and which provoked an angry reaction and an attack on the commandos.”
Sarah Palin: "I Believe That the Jewish Settlements Should Be Allowed to Be Expanded Upon…" [ Even in the Palestinian Areas ]
In an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin separated herself from decades of U.S. policy — which has held that Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Territories are illegitimate and an impediment to peace — saying that she thinks “Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expand”:
WALTERS: The Obama administration does not want Israel to build any more settlements on what they consider Palestinian territory. What is your view on this?
PALIN: I disagree with the Obama administration on that. I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don’t think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand.
WALTERS: Even if it’s [in] Palestinian areas?
PALIN: I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expand.
Not only does Palin disagree with the Obama administration on that, she also disagrees with the Bush administration, whose 2002 “roadmap for peace” called for a settlement freeze. In fact, every U.S. administration since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began in 1967 has opposed Israel’s building of settlements, which are held to be illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention:
Article 49. The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
In addition to violating Israel’s obligations under international law, the settlements are a major source of anger and frustration for Palestinians, and one of the main drivers of extremism and violence among both Palestinians and Israelis. By further entrenching Israel within the Palestinian territories, the settlements also make a two-state solution — which both Presidents Bush and Obama have recognized as a central U.S. national security interest — far more difficult to achieve.
Palin’s wild views on Jewish settlements might help her steal some radical right-wing religious support from Mike Huckabee, but they have disastrous implications both for U.S. and Israeli security, as well as for Palestinian national and human rights.
By RHONDA COOK
Saturday, July 04, 2009
With Cynthia McKinney due to appear in an Israeli court Sunday, the mother of the former congresswoman decided to skip a weekend family reunion in Alabama just in case State Department officials need any documents to get her released from jail.
McKinney has been in custody since Tuesday when she and 20 others were swept up by the Israeli Navy while allegedly trying to sail through a navy blockade. The group says it was attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza.
The formidable one-time lawmaker and the rest of her group could have been released soon after they were taken into custody but they refused to sign a document admitting they violated Israel’s blockade. All will be held at least until Sunday, when they are to appear in court.
“I didn’t go [to the family reunion] because I didn’t know if they needed special papers for Cynthia, like a birth certificate,” Leola McKinney said Saturday. “I wanted to be in place.”
Leola McKinney said she had not spoken with her daughter since shortly after she was taken into custody on Tuesday. “I don’t even know where she is or who she’s with,” Leola McKinney said.
Cynthia McKinney and other members of the “Free Gaza Movement” left Cyprus Tuesday on the Greek-registered ship Arion.
Their ship was stopped when they tried to pass through the Israeli Navy’s security blockade at Ashdod. The group was taken into custody and their ship was seized. Israeli officials promised to deliver by ground all of the humanitarian supplies that were on the boat.
Family, friends and supporters say Cynthia McKinney believed she was in international waters and was free to pass.
“The Israelis hijacked us because we wanted to give crayons to the children of Gaza,” Cynthia McKinney said in a recorded statement delivered via telephone and posted on the internet site YouTube.
The office of the Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta said in a statement released Friday, “According to Israeli law Ms. McKinney and her fellow crew members were suggested to sign a form acknowledging their deportation… Since Ms. McKinney has refused to do so, she is expected to appear before an Israeli judge on Sunday, July 5, and afterwards be returned home as soon as possible.”
Leola McKinney said her daughter did not sign the document because it was in Hebrew. “She didn’t know what she was signing,” Leola McKinney said.
Civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery, head of the Atlanta-based Coalition for the People’s Agenda, said he and others have spoken by phone with the Consulate General of Israel.
“Whatever happened, there was no harm done,” Lowery said. “She was not carry munitions, but medicine. We hope Israel will show compassion and release her and let her go on to deliver the much-needed medicine to the Gaza Strip. … If she were carrying guns, that would be a different thing. [But] she was carrying humanitarian aid.”
Lowery said Israeli officials had assured him that Cynthia McKinney was “getting VIP treatment. I don’t know how you get VIP treatment in j-a-i-l.”
Israeli officials blame Cynthia McKinney and her group for the controversy, saying they were looking for confrontation to attract publicity. The officials note that Palestinian Authority and the rest of the international community had agreed to the off-shore blockade to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza.
Leola McKinney said the trip would have received no “publicity if they had been allowed to deliver supplies to Gaza. They [Israel] made an issue out of it by taking the boat and escorting them into Israel.”
Billy McKinney, Cynthia McKinney’s father and a former state legislator, said his daughter was only trying to show “the devastation in Gaza… Anybody who has a humanitarian spirit would not want to see those people live in those conditions.”
Leola McKinney said she spoke to her daughter when she was first taken into custody and she sounded OK.
“It’s just the stress of being there,” Leola McKinney said. “I’m anxious and concerned because, until she gets back on U.S. soil, I won’t be contented. I really don’t know what she’s going through over there.”
We just spoke to the passengers. Everyone is OK, but the situation is still very tense. They continue to be surrounded by Israeli warships which are threatening to open fire. The Israeli Navy is actively jamming all navigation systems in violation of international maritime law, endangering the people on board.
Former U.S. Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, speaking from on board the SPIRIT, stated, “I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God’s name would Israel want to attack us and threaten our safety and welfare. I call on President Obama and the international community to intervene now to prevent this situation from escalating with potentially drastic results to the civilians on board.”
Since the boat’s navigation equipment is being jammed, it has turned westward in order to stay in international waters.The Captain and crew are working from the most ancient of navigation equipment…the compass to stay clear of Israeli waters.