Posts Tagged ‘Tzipi Livni’

William Blum on the American Demonization of Iran

February 8, 2017

I bought a copy today of William Blum’s book, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy – The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything (London: Zed Books 2013). Blum’s a long term, extremely vociferous and very knowledgeable critic of American foreign policy and its allies. He’s been protesting against the country’s assassinations, coups and manufactured wars and other interventions since the Vietnam War, and his website, the Anti-Empire Report, is highly recommended for telling you what the media is not reporting about the global actions of America and its allies.

The book’s chapters deal with:
US foreign policy vs. the world; Terrorism; Iraq; Afghanistan; Iran; George W. Bush; Condoleezza Rice; Human rights, civil liberties and torture; WikiLeaks; Conspiracies; Yugoslavia; Libya; Latin America; Cuba; The Cold War and anti-Communism; the 1960s; Ideology and society; Our precious environment; The problem with capitalism; The media; Barack Obama; Patriotism; Dissent and resistance in America; Religion, Laughing despite the Empire; But what can we do?

It’s a treasure trove of information showing just how unpleasant American foreign policy is, and how the military-industrial complex running it has not only bombed, murdered and exploited people all over the world, it also lies shamelessly and constantly to its own people as well as the world at large. Nearly every page has a telling fact that flips the conventional, establishment narrative right on its head.

The chapter on Iran is a case in point. Blum cites White House aides, journos and diplomats to show that Iran’s nuclear programme was never a threat, despite the hysterical table-thumping by the odious Tzipi Livni and the rest of the thugs now running Israel. Far from it. Over a decade ago, the Iranians were even responsible for negotiating some of the peace deals in Afghanistan, and even approached Bush through the Swiss ambassador for a deal to improve relations with America, in which they promised to give major concessions. Blum writes

Shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran made another approach to Washington, via the Swiss ambassador, who sent a fax to the State Department. The Washington Post described it as ‘a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table – including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.’ The Bush administration ‘belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax’. Richard Haass, head of policy planning at the State Department at the time and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Iranian approach was swiftly rejected because in the administration ‘the bias was toward a policy of regime change.’

So there we have it. The Israelis know it, the Americans know it. Iran is not any kind of military threat. Before the invasion of Iraq I posed the question: What possible reason would Saddam Hussein have for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? he had no reason, and neither do the Iranians. (p. 105).

James Dobbins, Bush’s representative to the Bonn conference in which the parties in the Middle East negotiated the political settlement for Afghanistan, states that it was the Iranians who made sure that democracy and the war on terrorism were included in the Afghan constitution, not the Americans. (pp.104-5). Now that’s very, very definitely something I haven’t heard report on the Beeb. Have you?

But what struck me as urgently important this week was this passage

Not long ago, Iraq and Iran were regarded by USrael as the most significant threats to Israeli Middle East hegemony. thus was born the myth of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the United States proceeded to turn Iraq into a basket case. The left Iran, and thus was born the myth of the Iranian Nuclear Threat. As it began to sink in that Iran was not really that much of a nuclear threat, or that this ‘threat’ was becoming too difficult to sell to the rest of the world, USrael decided that, at a minimum, it wanted regime change. The next step may be to block Iran’s lifeline – oil sales using the Strait of Hormuz. Ergo the recent US and EU naval buildup near the Persian Gulf, an act of war trying to goad Iran into firing the first shot. If Iran tries to counter this blockade it could be the signal for another US Basket Case, the fourth in a decade, with the devastated people of Libya and Afghanistan, along with Iraq, currently enjoying America’s unique gift of freedom and democracy. (Pp. 98-9, my emphasis).

The Americans have been gearing up for a war with Iran for the past decade. But this week Donald Trump’s advisers were banging their shoes on the table for war. An American warship had been fired upon by the Yemeni Houthi rebels. The Houthis are Shi’a, and so backed by Iran. At the same time, the Iranians test fired a ballistic missile that flew 500 miles before crashing. This was, assures Drumpf, a preparation for nuclear missiles. The Orange Generalissimo and his courtiers therefore started talking about a possible attack on Iran.

I’ve blogged earlier this week about how a war with Iran would be disastrous. It also wouldn’t be to liberate the Iranian people from a deeply authoritarian and repressive regime. It would be just another attempt by US-Saudi oil multinationals to grab their oil, just as America and Britain organised a coup against Mossadeq when he nationalised Anglo-Persian Oil in the 1950s.

Iran’s not a threat, and the Iranians were responsible for establishing clauses mandating democracy and denouncing terrorism in the Afghan constitution. This is all about finding a pretext for a new pack of lies to justify yet the invasion and looting of yet another country.

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Norman Finkelstein and Elizabeth Baltzer on Young American Jews Rejecting Zionism: Part 2

May 27, 2016

Finkelstein and Baltzer also differ on whether the solution to the problem of Palestinian emancipation is the two state solution, articulated by the UN, or a dismantling of the mechanism of the systematic persecution of the Palestinians, so that they become part of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Israel, such as occurred in South Africa after the fall of apartheid. Baltzer favours the single state, post-Apartheid solution. Finkelstein supports the two state solution.

Finkelstein notes that the creation of a separate Palestinian state following the borders of the pre-1967 settlement is the solution favoured by the United Nations and international law. He argues that you may not like it, but you have to abide by it. He states that this would involve an exchange of about just over 1 per cent of land between Israel and the new Palestine. This would allow the Israelis to retain about 60 per cent of the settlements in the West Bank. He also describes how crestfallen Tzipi Livni, the Israeli minister in charge of this question, was when she was confronted by the Palestinians who proposed it. She seemed particularly dismayed looking at the maps they had produced, because, says Finkelstein, she found them convincing and didn’t know how to argue against the proposal. So she tried picking on some of the details. She would say, ‘What about that town?’, to which the Palestinians replied, ‘We know about that. You can build a bridge.’ ‘What about that village?’ ‘We know about that too. You can build a road here that’ll take you past it’.

He also disagreed with following the model of post-apartheid South Africa, because of the way the apartheid state had founded the Bantustans – special statelets for the indigenous tribes, which were officially recognised by the UN, despite the fact that they were part of the infrastructure of the apartheid ideology of ‘separate development’. I think Dr Finkelstein could be rather confused here, as this would seem instead closer to the idea of the two state solution.

Finkelstein also has some trenchant criticisms of the leadership of the mainstream American Jewish organisations, particularly J-Street. He says quite openly, ‘Their leadership is horrible. No, it really is. They think Tzipi Livni, who laughed about the conflict in Gaza, is a liberal’. This is a slight paraphrase, but it’s more or less what he said. He felt, however, that J Street’s grassroots membership were quite different, and said that they could reach out to 2/3 of them and win them over into a third party supporting the Palestinians.

Baltzer also said that the growing movement for the liberation of the Palestinians was diverse, and should include everyone. Finkelstein said that it shouldn’t, so she corrected herself, and said that racists weren’t welcome. It should be obvious, but unfortunately it does need to be said. There are real anti-Semites and Nazis, who attempt to gain a specious legitimacy by passing off their comments and stance as mere anti-Zionism. They shouldn’t be allowed entry into a genuinely anti-racist movement.

They also disagreed on the nature, extent and goals of the BDS movement. Both support it, but Finkelstein believes that the movement’s successes are about getting firms and individuals to sever links to the occupied territories, rather than about Israel generally. He also makes the point that their Zionist opponents were celebrating the fact that Daniel Barenboim, the Israeli conductor and founder of the East-West Divan Orchestra, had been refused entry to Qatar because he was a ‘Zionist’. Hence Finkelstein’s opposition to the use of the term.

At times the discussion got quite heated. Finkelstein himself made the point that no-one should go away from the event thinking that he and Baltzer were not friends, as they were, and he had immense admiration for her. After the talk had formally ended, and the three are packing up to leave the podium, Finkelstein turns and offers his hand to Baltzer. He can be heard saying, ‘I’ve got to offer my hand to you, otherwise people will go away thinking we’re enemies’.

It’s natural that on such a profound and emotive topic there should also be profound differences of opinion. Nevertheless, both sides of this debate need to be heard. Baltzer’s idea for a single state solution is shared by Ilan Pappe, while Finkelstein’s preferred solution is that of the UN and associated international bodies. What the reality will be, remains for the Palestinians and the Israelis to decide.

And there are also young Israelis, who are impatient with their nation’s failure to find a lasting, just peace with the Palestinians. Over a decade ago the Independent reported a series of protests held jointly by Israelis and Palestinians against the Israeli government and Palestinian authority. This took the form of ‘tea and cake’ parties. The participants issued a call for the British to come and take over the country’s government, as their own peoples were making such a terrible hash of it. And they chose tea and cake as the typical British meal to symbolise this.

Of course, they didn’t really want us back. It’s partly due to our misgovernment of the country and its seizure through the Mandate that Israel and much of the Middle East is in the terrible state it is. But it was heartening to see young Israelis and Palestinians meeting in peace and friendship, to demand a lasting people against the intransigence and incompetence of the politicos.

I have absolutely no doubt that one of the reasons why the Israel lobby – BICOM, the Labour Friends of Israel, and the other associated groups in Britain, and AIPAC in America – are actively trying to conflate Jewish identity with Zionism and criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism is because they are acutely aware that that neither are necessarily the case. But they need them to be in order to deflect any and all criticism of the way Israel treats its indigenous people. I therefore believe that as time goes on and support for the Palestinians increases, more people are going to be accused of anti-Semitism, and more Jews attacked for being self-hating, even when they obviously aren’t. Miriam Margolies, the great British thesp, was one of those of who joined the criticism of Israel during the bombardment of Gaza. She described herself as ‘a proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’. Baltzer and Finkelstein in this debate remind us how many others like her there are, often severely normal people, who are horrified at a gross violation of human rights. It ain’t just celebrities and actors.