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 Monday, May 31, 2004

  Bush's Policies a Danger to Jews: US Congresswoman Says

Jewish Congresswoman says Bush's Policies a Danger to Jews

Ami Eden

May 28, 2004 in the "The Forward"

The simmering debate over the role of Jewish neoconservatives in drawing America into war in Iraq erupted with new fury this week.

One of America's most respected ex-generals took to the airwaves to charge on CBS News' "60 Minutes" that the war had been fought for Israel's benefit, just days after a similar charge was leveled on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

The retired general, Anthony Zinni, a past chief of the U.S. Central Command and President Bush's former Middle East special envoy, told "60 Minutes" on Sunday that the neoconservatives' role in pushing the war for Israel's benefit was "the worst-kept secret in Washington."

Three days earlier, Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, a South Carolina Democrat, rose on the Senate floor to defend a newspaper essay he had written earlier in the month making the same charge.

Both men complained that they had been unfairly labeled antisemitic for speaking out.

Their comments come just weeks after the United Nations' special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, called Israel a "poison in the region" and said that American support for Israeli policies was making his job more difficult.

In the face of these mounting criticisms, a leading Jewish Democrat on Capitol Hill, Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, told the Forward that the president's policies were increasing the danger to Jews across the world.

"We are very worried about the rise of anti-semitism internationally," said Lowey in an interview Monday with the Forward.

She argued that disdain for the president and his policies has "stirred up" antisemitic feelings worldwide. "It's a real concern for me as a Jewish member of Congress."

Lowey's comments drew sharp criticisms from officials at the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress.

"That's absurd," said the ADL's national director, Abraham Foxman, when informed of Lowey's comments. "It's worse than blaming the victim. It's blaming someone who stands up for the victim."

David Twersky, the director of international programs at the American Jewish Congress, also objected, telling the Forward: "Without being partisan about it, I am appalled that anyone should attribute the rise of antisemitism in the Islamic world, and separately in Western Europe, to George Bush's policies in the Middle East."

One Democratic activist, who asked not to be identified, defended Lowey's comments:

"There is certainly a strong stream within the party, and particularly among progressives and many Jews are progressives that George Bush's inability to play well with others and his inability to think diplomatically and multinationally ... has increased world hatred of the United States.

There are many in the Arab world who believe that America is run by and owned by Jews.

So it is not that hard to get from A to B. I tend to think that any independent analyst would tend to say the same thing. So why try to give [Bush] the benefit of the doubt? If he could connect these dots it would modify his behavior and make him think more diplomatically."
The Bush administration also was portrayed as reckless by Gen. Anthony Zinni during his interview with "60 Minutes," in which he said it "was the worst-kept secret in Washington" that neoconservatives had sold Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on a plan to democratize the Middle East.

Those remarks drew criticisms from officials at both the National Jewish Democratic Council and the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Just three days before Zinni's interview was broadcast, Hollings took to the Senate floor to defend his little-noticed claim earlier this month that Bush sent the country to war in order to win Jewish votes and protect Israel, after consulting with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, the former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board.

In his May 20 floor speech, Hollings also blasted the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the lobbying powerhouse in Washington known as Aipac.

"You can't have an Israel policy other than what Aipac gives you around here," Hollings said. "I have followed them mostly in the main, but I have also resisted signing certain letters from time to time, to give the poor president a chance."

Hollings said he was motivated by a concern for Israel, which he insisted has been threatened by the turmoil in Iraq. But the South Carolina senator drew sharp criticism from Jewish communal leaders, Jewish political activists from both parties, and Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Senator John Kerry.

Foxman sent Hollings a letter May 14 arguing that the senator's remarks were "reminiscent of age-old, antisemitic canards about a Jewish conspiracy to control and manipulate the government."

During his floor speech, Hollings spoke angrily about critics who raised such claims. "I won't apologize," Hollings declared during a May 20 speech from the Senate floor. "I want them to apologize to me."

Zinni sounded a similar note in his "60 Minutes" interview, complaining that he was "called antisemitic" for writing an article in which he mentioned Bush's neoconservative advisers.

"I mean, you know, unbelievable that that's the kind of personal attacks that are run when you criticize a strategy and those who propose it," Zinni said.

"I certainly didn't criticize who they were. I certainly don't know what their ethnic religious backgrounds are. And I'm not interested."

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  President Bush's Foreign Policy Arrogance Is Coming Home to Roost

Read here full article by E.J. Dionne Jr." The President: Paying the Price.." in Washington Post
May 30, 2004

The President: Paying the Price..
E.J. Dionne Jr.
(E.J. Dionne is a Washington Post columnist, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. This article is based, in part, on his just-published book, "Stand Up Fight Back" (Simon & Schuster). )

When presidents take big chances, they have two choices.

They can take all the responsibility on themselves and hope that when things go well, they will reap allthe rewards.

Or they can choose to draw in the opposition from the beginning and count on some help and a feeling of solidarity if things start to go wrong.

President Bush took his big chance in Iraq without buying himself an insurance policy. He could have patiently built a coalition of the many -- not only abroad, but also at home -- rather than slapping together a coalition of the few, including the not-entirely-willing.

He could have made clear, as his father did a decade earlier, that a decision to go to war is so momentous that Congress should consider the matter under circumstances that would encourage genuine deliberation.

Legislators from both parties will tell you that the congressional debate over the 1991 Persian Gulf War was one of the most ennobling experiences of their political lives. You don't hear much of that this time around. That's because approval was shoved through Congress by a president only too happy to turn war into a campaign issue.

Instead of reaching out to doubters, Bush derided them.

On the campaign trail in September 2002, he characterized Democratic members of Congress who wanted a strong mandate from the United Nations -- exactly what the administration is seeking now -- as evading responsibility. "It seems like to me that if you're representing the United States," he said, "you ought to be making a decision on what's best for the United States." Didn't his opponents think that defending the interests of the United States was exactly what they were doing? Bush continued: "If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people -- say, 'Vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.' "

No wonder the country is so polarized.

Behind the president's plummeting poll numbers and public restlessness about the war is an emerging truth about the administration's way of doing business.

Iraq was a preemptive war pursued by a president who governs by preemption.

There is a sad irony here, sad for Bush and for the country he leads. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush had the opportunity to transform himself from the winner of a disputed election into a leader with unparalleled political authority. If you are a Bush supporter, it's worth contemplating the benefits of the road not taken.

At first, Bush did a masterful job of pulling the country together. Democrats as well as Republicans joined him at the ramparts. "We will speak with one voice," Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle declared on 9/11.

Bush's decision to go to war in Afghanistan won support across the political spectrum because it seemed an entirely appropriate response to an attack on our country by terrorists harbored by that nation's government.

Democrats were off balance, unsure of how to behave. Republicans recognized that the political ground was shifting in their favor.

Rep. Tom Davis, the shrewd Virginia Republican, told me then that Bush had the chance "to reshape the image of the party from the top down." At the time, it was possible to imagine the reappearance of something like Eisenhower Republicanism and a long-term Republican majority that would embrace 55 to 60 percent of Americans.

But Bush chose aggressiveness over conciliation.

At one point, in the debate over a bill creating a permanent Department of Homeland Security, he even said that "the Senate" -- meaning the bare Democratic majority that existed at the time -- was "not interested in the security of the American people." Don't doubt for a moment that every Democrat in the Senate remembers Bush saying that. You can play political hardball or you can call for national unity. You can't do both.

Give the current president this: His party won the 2002 midterm elections, whereas the first President Bush, after being more courtly on the war issue, saw his party go down to defeat in the 1990 congressional elections. So in the short term, hardball worked. And, yes, the first Bush did fail to win reelection, although his war had little to do with that defeat.

This President Bush put his potential opponents in a tough place. Sen. John F. Kerry voted to go to war, despite his doubts, because he didn't want to seem soft on Saddam Hussein. Kerry has been explaining his vote ever since, and Bush supporters chortle over his various explanations.

So Bush got what he wanted -- but at a higher price than he expected to pay.

For there is a cost to preemptive politics:Those who doubted your policies in the first place end up with no investment in them. When the administration's predictions about Iraq failed to come to pass -- we didn't find the dangerous weapons, we weren't seen as liberators for as long as we hoped -- those who had been accused of not being interested in the security of the American people had no stake in rallying to Bush's defense.

That's why many Republicans are wishing this president had paid more attention to his father's experience. Because the elder Bush took pains not to politicize the war issue, most of the war's opponents returned the favor. (It helped, of course, that U.S. forces won a smashing victory in Kuwait.) And because the first Bush reached out to build alliances across the globe -- how many air miles did then-Secretary of State James A. Baker III rack up in his quest for foreign support? -- there was none of the resentment of American power that now characterizes public opinion in countries that had long been American allies.

There is one explanation for Bush's preemptory posture: He genuinely believed that the weapons were there and that the transition to democracy in Iraq would be much easier than it turned out to be. I've been told by people inside the administration that the war's staunchest supporters really did have an optimistic view of this venture -- too optimistic, as it turns out, given the lack of planning for the alternatives.

This could explain why Bush decided to place his bet without any insurance. He really did expect to be floating to reelection as morning came to America and Iraq and was about to dawn on that entity Bush likes to describe as "the greater Middle East."

Bush struggled this week to keep that hope alive.

In his speech to the nation on Monday, he desperately tried to recreate the world of late 2001 and 2002. He recalled our sense of national unity after 9/11. He reminded us of the victory over the Taliban and "a totalitarian political ideology." He tried, again, to make the case that the war in Iraq is closely linked to the war on terrorism -- he used the words "terror," "terrorist" and "terrorism" 19 times.

But by reminding us of how united we once were, Bush only underscored how divided we have become.

And that is why a president who once soared in the polls now finds himself struggling for reelection -- less by touting his own achievements than by trashing his opponent. John Kerry has spent nearly 20 years in the Senate, so there are thousands of votes to go after, a lot of opportunities to say Kerry has flip-flopped, changed his views, done what's necessary to win election.

All this might have worked in normal circumstances, and maybe it will this time. But at the moment, Bush is losing support among independent voters and has not nailed down moderate or even moderately conservative Republicans.

Bush has signaled his own weakness by buying time on the Golf Channel, more a home to Republicans than to swing voters (except, perhaps, where the game itself is concerned).

By failing to embrace his opportunity to be a president of national unity, Bush has endangered the great project of his presidency: remaking Iraq. And he has offered Kerry the chance to be as tough as Howard Dean was -- but in the name of uniting Americans at a moment when solidarity is desperately needed.

This is why Kerry has reason to hope that his identity as a Vietnam veteran can trump his history as a Massachusetts liberal. And it's why President Bush, lacking the political insurance he should have sought, is right to be running scared.

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 Wednesday, May 26, 2004

  ABC News/Washington Post Survey: Americans Are Angrier Now Than Before on the Iraq War

Read here article by Gary Langer in ABCNews

"Americans Increasingly Frustrated With Bush Iraq Policy"

By Gary Langer
May 25, 2004

According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds the sharpest change is in anger.

As the war began, 30 percent of Americans were angry about it.

Today, asked about the situation in Iraq, 57 percent are angry — almost twice as many.

Anger is highest — 70 percent — among the roughly half of Americans who think that, given its costs versus its benefits, the war was not worth fighting.

Sampling, data collection and tabulation for this poll were done by TNS.

Despite broad concerns about the current situation, 62 percent of Americans remain hopeful about Iraq; that's down, though, from 80 percent at the start of the war. And 41 percent describe themselves as "proud" about the situation; it was 53 percent when the war began.

Two other emotions are level: 67 percent are worried and 37 percent are frightened about the situation, both about the same as when the war began.

There are enormous differences among groups in these responses to the events in Iraq. Women are twice as likely as men to be frightened about the situation, and also far more likely to be angry and worried about it.

Hopefulness is vastly higher among Republicans (82 percent) than among independents or Democrats (57 and 50 percent, respectively).

Republicans also are far more apt to be proud — 63 percent, compared with four in 10 independents and a quarter of Democrats. Democrats, and independents as well, are more apt to be angry, worried and frightened.

Many of these views also are dependent on opinions of whether the war was worth fighting, and on whether the administration has a clear plan for dealing with the situation now.

For instance, among those who see a clear plan, 86 percent are hopeful and 71 percent are proud; among those who don't see a clear plan — nearly six in 10 Americans — only about half as many are hopeful, and just two in 10 express pride.

People who don't see a clear plan in Iraq also are 30 points likelier to be angry about the situation there, and 26 points more apt to be worried about it.

Some of the changes from March 2003 have occurred across groups. Men are 24 points more likely to be angry now; the change among women is about the same — up 29 points.

Anger is up by 26 points among Democrats, and also by 21 points among Republicans (and by 29 points among independents).

And it's up by 20 points among war supporters, as well as by 21 points among war opponents.

Other changes do show more differences among groups. Hopefulness has dropped by 22 points among women, compared with 14 points among men; and by 24 points among Democrats, compared with 11 points among Republicans. Pride has fallen farther among men than among women, and farther among Democrats than among Republicans.

There are, naturally, political ramifications to these views. Among people who are angry about the situation in Iraq, for instance, just 35 percent approve of the way George W. Bush is handling his job overall. Among those who aren't angry, his approval rating is 29 points higher, 64 percent.

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 Tuesday, May 25, 2004

  Iran May Have Duped United States into War with Iraq

Julian Borger
May 25, 2004
The Guardian

Transcribed from The Guardian

An urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, it emerged yesterday.

Some intelligence officials now believe that Iran used the hawks in the Pentagon and the White House to get rid of a hostile neighbour, and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq.

According to a US intelligence official, the CIA has hard evidence that Mr Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, passed US secrets to Tehran, and that Mr Habib has been a paid Iranian agent for several years, involved in passing intelligence in both directions.

The CIA has asked the FBI to investigate Mr Chalabi's contacts in the Pentagon to discover how the INC acquired sensitive information that ended up in Iranian hands.

The implications are far-reaching. Mr Chalabi and Mr Habib were the channels for much of the intelligence on Iraqi weapons on which Washington built its case for war.

"It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi."

Larry Johnson, a former senior counter-terrorist official at the state department, said: "When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy."

Mr Chalabi has vehemently rejected the allegations as "a lie, a fib and silly". He accused the CIA director, George Tenet, of a smear campaign against himself and Mr Habib.

However, it is clear that the CIA - at loggerheads with Mr Chalabi for more than eight years - believes it has caught him red-handed, and is sticking to its allegations.

"The suggestion that Chalabi is a victim of a smear campaign is outrageous," a US intelligence official said. "It's utter nonsense. He passed very sensitive and classified information to the Iranians. We have rock solid information that he did that."

"As for Aras Karim [Habib] being a paid agent for Iranian intelligence, we have very good reason to believe that is the case," added the intelligence official, who did not want to be named. He said it was unclear how long this INC-Iranian collaboration had been going on, but pointed out that Mr Chalabi had had overt links with Tehran "for a long period of time".

An intelligence source in Washington said the CIA confirmed its long-held suspicions when it discovered that a piece of information from an electronic communications intercept by the National Security Agency had ended up in Iranian hands. The information was so sensitive that its circulation had been restricted to a handful of officials.

"This was 'sensitive compartmented information' - SCI - and it was tracked right back to the Iranians through Aras Habib," the intelligence source said.

Mr Habib, a Shia Kurd who is being sought by Iraqi police since a raid on INC headquarters last week, has been Mr Chalabi's righthand man for more than a decade. He ran a Pentagon-funded intelligence collection programme in the run-up to the invasion and put US officials in touch with Iraqi defectors who made claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Those claims helped make the case for war but have since proved groundless, and US intelligence agencies are now scrambling to determine whether false information was passed to the US with Iranian connivance.

INC representatives in Washington did not return calls seeking comment.

But Laurie Mylroie, a US Iraq analyst and one of the INC's most vocal backers in Washington, dismissed the allegations as the product of a grudge among CIA and state department officials driven by a pro-Sunni, anti-Shia bias.

She said that after the CIA raised questions about Mr Habib's Iranian links, the Pentagon's Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) conducted a lie-detector test on him in 2002, which he passed with "flying colours".

The DIA is also reported to have launched its own inquiry into the INC-Iran link.

An intelligence source in Washington said the FBI investigation into the affair would begin with Mr Chalabi's "handlers" in the Pentagon, who include William Luti, the former head of the office of special plans, and his immediate superior, Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defence for policy.

There is no evidence that they were the source of the leaks. Other INC supporters at the Pentagon may have given away classified information in an attempt to give Mr Chalabi an advantage in the struggle for power surrounding the transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government on June 30.

The CIA allegations bring to a head a dispute between the CIA and the Pentagon officials instrumental in promoting Mr Chalabi and his intelligence in the run-up to the war. By calling for an FBI counter-intelligence investigation, the CIA is, in effect, threatening to disgrace senior neo-conservatives in the Pentagon.

"This is people who opposed the war with long knives drawn for people who supported the war," Ms Mylroie said.

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 Monday, May 24, 2004

  Senator Ernest Hollings Is Right: It's all about Israel

by Justin RaimondoMay 21, 2004

Isn't it funny how politicians have to wait until just before going into retirement to say what they really think about Israel and its influence over Washington policymakers?

Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-Indiana), formerly the senior Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, waited until after announcing his departure from Congress to attend a symposium on the Middle East where he noted that his congressional colleagues are "not even-handed" when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "for political reasons."

Rep. Hamilton went on to say:

"Israeli leaders understand our system very, very well [and] because they understand our system they can exploit it."
Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-Alabama) earned the ire of Tel Aviv's lobby by opposing "emergency aid" to Israel. In a speech on the House floor, a clearly angered Callahan lashed out at the Amen Corner:
"I am going to offer amendments as we go through the bill to strike all of the aid to Israel that was included here without any request from Israel, without any request from the administration, without any requests from anybody. But someone within this beltway decided since we were going to have a supplemental bill, they were going to get some pork in it for Israel."
Please note that Callahan did this only after announcing his retirement plans.

Now Senator Ernest Hollings, whose legendary disdain for political correctness has gotten him in trouble before, has joined the ranks of the belatedly honest, and said what a few others – such as Michael Kinsley, Pat Buchanan, and myself – have said all along.

In an op-ed piece first published in the Charleston Post and Courier, the senator, having just announced his retirement, took up the question of why are we in Iraq, and came up with this answer:
"Now everyone knows what was not the cause.

Even President Bush acknowledges that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Listing the 45 countries where al-Qaida was operating on September 11 (70 cells in the U.S.), the State Department did not list Iraq. Richard Clarke, in Against All Enemies, tells how the United States had not received any threat of terrorism for 10 years from Saddam at the time of our invasion. … Of course there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Israel's intelligence, Mossad, knows what's going on in Iraq. They are the best. They have to know. Israel's survival depends on knowing. Israel long since would have taken us to the weapons of mass destruction if there were any or if they had been removed. With Iraq no threat, why invade a sovereign country?

The answer: President Bush's policy to secure Israel."
Hollings goes on to identify "a domino school of thought that the way to guarantee Israel's security is to spread democracy in the area," naming deputy Defense Secretary and chickenhawk-in-chief Paul Wolfowitz, neoconservative hardliner and Francophile Richard Perle, and former psychiatrist and deranged warmonger Charles Krauthammer.

He furthermore goes on to savage George W. Bush, whose sole thought since taking office, according to Hollings, has been reelection, with a radical tilt toward Israel by U.S. policymakers a key part of the game plan:
"Spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats. You don't come to town and announce your Israel policy is to invade Iraq. But George W. Bush, as stated by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and others, started laying the groundwork to invade Iraq days after inauguration. And, without any Iraq connection to 9/11, within weeks he had the Pentagon outlining a plan to invade Iraq. He was determined."
Hollings has been roundly denounced and his remarks attributed to "anti-Semitism" by Israel's amen corner in the U.S. But there is nothing secret about the open effort by the Republican party to capture the Jewish vote. The whole idea of politics, after all, is mobilizing various interest groups around a particular candidate and building a majority coalition. Pandering to ethnic blocs is a grand American political tradition: it comes with being a nation of immigrants, which is something we're all supposed to glory in. Every ethnic group of any numerical significance is pandered to, in some way, and politicians are always making ethnic-based appeals. The Republican party's outreach to the Hispanic community is pursued to the point where our President often bursts into long stretches of Spanish (perhaps because it makes him sound less inarticulate, at least to those who have no idea what he's saying). Why shouldn't he reach out to Jewish voters, too?

By calling attention to the obvious, Senator Hollings stands condemned as an "anti-Semite."

I'll tell you what else is obvious: the benefits accrued to Israel on account of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The annexation of significant portions of the West Bank, and now the attack on Gaza, have both received what amounts to the imprimatur of an American President. While Israeli "advisors" teach their American pupils the basics of running an occupation, the next target on Ariel Sharon's wish list, Syria, is hit with sanctions, and accusations that Damascus is aiding the Iraqi insurgency.

Hollings is absolutely on the mark about the real reasons for this war, even if his speculation about a GOP effort to go after the Jewish vote misses the real point. What Bush is after isn't primarily the Jewish voter, but holding onto and expanding the much larger "born again" Christian fundamentalist bloc, a significant proportion of which is fanatically devoted to Israel – even over and above American interests – for wacky theological reasons.

When Hollings called Prime Minister Sharon "the Bull Connor of Israel," it wasn't the Jewish vote Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) was after when he demanded that Hollings apologize.

South Carolina is Pat Robertson country, where the dispensationalist Christian heresy has deep roots – and even deeper political implications when it comes to this administration's foreign policy.

"Certainly, discussing and questioning policy is the right and duty of all responsible leaders. But when the debate veers into anti-Jewish stereotyping, it is tantamount to scapegoating and an appeal to ethnic hatred," says Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.

But why shouldn't America's satellites avidly seek to manipulate and even control the Imperial Hegemon? After all, we hold their fate in our hands. That's what being an Empire is all about.

Without American military and economic support, Israel could not and would not exist: one false move on the part of Washington, and the Jewish state would flounder and fall on the rocks of demographic reality and rising Arab nationalism.

Special interest groups of all ethnic and religious persuasions do their best to decisively influence U.S. foreign policy: why should Jews (and their "born again" Christian allies) be any different?

"This is reminiscent," raves Foxman, "of age-old, anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish conspiracy to control and manipulate government."

If one so much as looks cross-eyed at Ariel Sharon, Abe Foxman is reminded of Kristallnacht, but the point is that, if I were Foxman I wouldn't pull this "age-old canard" business too often. Instead of fighting anti-Semitism, Foxman's weird insistence on re-imagining half-forgotten anti-Jewish caricatures can only encourage it. But, then again, if anti-Semitism went out of business, so would Foxman's organization. It's funny how that works….

Jonah Goldberg, who is obviously engaged in some kind of contest with Foxman to see who can do the best Al Sharpton imitation, notes the names Wolfowitz, Perle, and Krauthammer, and whines:
"Funny how the only names are Jewish. What? Jeanne Kirkpatrick doesn't count? Jack Kemp? Bill Bennett? I wonder why."
Perhaps because Kirkpatrick is a figure from another era, and only played a supporting role in the propaganda campaign that lied us into war. Jack Kemp was never a major figure, and his views on Iraq seem decidedly ambivalent, at best. As for Blackjack Bill, his reputation would certainly not have encouraged Americans to take his advice and gamble on committing our troops to a risky occupation, and so, understandably, he didn't take center stage in the prewar debate.

Wolfowitz, on the other hand, is not only a high government official but also the intellectual author of this administration's policy of preemptive global hegemony.

As Richard Clarke and Bob Woodward reveal, the Deputy Secretary of Defense was the earliest and most persistent advocate of war with Iraq: Wolfowitz wanted to take Baghdad before bothering with Kabul.

As for the legendary Richard Perle, the neocon "Prince of Darkness," his style – and the numerous scandals in which he's been embroiled, all of them very high profile and exceptionally smarmy – ensures his prominence. A spotlight seems to follow him about, like a shadow.

Is it really necessary to point out the reasons for Krauthammer's prominence? Surely his was one of the loudest and most militant voices raised in support of this war, and certainly his position on the op-ed page of the Washington Post automatically lends his words a certain weight.

In concert with Bill Safire and David Brooks over at the New York Times, Krauthammer constitutes a crucially important link in the neocon Iron Triangle of the American punditocracy.

If all these names are Jewish, then so what? Just as many Jews, if not more, figure prominently in the antiwar camp.

Goldberg, being a clever chap, realizes this, and so falls back on trying to switch the blame from the War Party to the Bushies:
"Fritz Hollings is defending himself saying that he can provide quotes from Jews in America and Israel to support his position. I'm sure he can to some extent.

But so what?

His charge isn't that Jews support democracy in the Middle East to secure Israel's security (and because they support democracy). His charge is that Bush went to war to placate those Jews. The quotes he needs to prove his point aren't from Jews in Tel Aviv, they're from White House officials in Washington."
If the idea is to prove Washington's willingness to go along with Ariel Sharon in spite of American interests, how about quotes from the President of the United States and U.S. government officials in response to Israel's outright annexation of parts of the West Bank, and the IDF's current rampage through Gaza?

Having endorsed the Israeli Lebensraum (marketed to world opinion as a "withdrawal," albeit a partial one), our President couldn't bring himself to condemn an Israeli attack on a peaceful Palestinian demonstration that killed 10 children and wounded 50, aside from urging "restraint."

Bush has consistently referred to Israel's "right of self-defense" to excuse each and every bloody incursion into Palestinian territory, no matter how brutal – and no matter how much it ratcheted up tensions between the American army of occupation and its sullen Iraqi charges.

As Israel rampages through the Holy Land with unholy determination to dominate and drive out any who stand in her way, and the promise of a pipeline from Iraq's oil fields in Mosul to Haifa comes closer to reality, the key question, cui bono? – who benefits? – demands an answer.

Last year, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now Finance Minister, told a group of British investors:
"It won't be long when you will see Iraqi oil flowing to Haifa. It is just a matter of time until the pipeline is reconstituted and Iraqi oil will flow to the Mediterranean."
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, now a partner in Cannistraro Associates, writes in the current issue of The American Conservative that
"There are rumors that the deservedly moribund pipeline project to send Iraqi oil to Haifa may again be on the table."
But the oil is just the gravy on the meatloaf, or perhaps the dessert that comes after the main course, which is Israel's improved geopolitical position as a result of the Iraq war.

Syria is outflanked, and now under U.S. sanctions, while the rest of the Arab world is psychologically demoralized, politically destabilized, and militarily defeated. Bush and Sharon – or, from the Arab viewpoint, Sharon and Bush – are masters of all they survey.

Arab democrats, secular nationalists, and moderates in the region are more isolated, and even more powerless, than ever: only Osama bin Laden's followers are overjoyed to see that their leader's warning of an invasion of "Crusaders and Zionists" has proved prescient.

What irks American patriots, not a few conservatives among them, is that Sharon and the Israelis have shown no restraint: they are utterly heedless of the effect of their policies on the ground in Iraq.

We undertook a vast project of social and political engineering in Iraq largely on Israel's behalf, only to see that they don't feel the least bit obligated to spare us the consequences of their actions. Surely such ingratitude contributes to rising resentment against the catalytic role of Israel's supporters – both in and out of government – in dragging us into Iraq.

Senator Hollings is right: this war was, and still is, all about protecting Israel's security and plans for expansion – at our expense. Not surprisingly, the catcalls are coming from the same people who say any reference to "neoconservatives" – up until recently a word that had entered the American political lexicon (sometime in the 1970s) without a hint of ethnic overtones – is really a "code word" for Jews.

What they hope to accomplish is to close down all debate on a question the War Party would just as soon not see raised.

But that question – why are we in Iraq? – is one that urgently requires explaining. Jonah Goldberg may persist in applying rules of political correctness that he would never otherwise invoke, but I would urge critics of Israel to take some solace in the words of John Derbyshire, Goldberg's colleague at National Review, who invokes what he calls:

"Derbyshire's First Law": Anything – anything whatsoever – that a Gentile says about Jews or Israel will be taken as rabidly antisemitic by somebody, somewhere."

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 Friday, May 21, 2004

  Lies about Crimes in Gaza and Iraq

When the US military spokesman claims that its force in Iraq took "obligatory action" and Israel says it was acting in Rafah "in self-defence", words lose all credibility.
Transcribed from Guardian UK.

Lies about crimes
May 21, 2004
The Guardian

Two acts of carnage, one in Iraq and one in Gaza, competed for the world's horrified attention yesterday:

  • more than 40 people were killed by American fire in a village close to the Syrian border in western Iraq, and

  • at least eight Palestinians had died as a result of Israeli gunfire during a peaceful demonstration at Rafah.

    There is no need here to be reminded that violent and indiscriminate death is not confined to one side.

    When Iraqis are blown apart in Baghdad by a car bomb, or Israelis in Haifa by a suicide bomber, these are instantly and correctly labelled as terrorist attacks.

    However when American helicopters or Israeli tanks cause death to innocent civilians on a similar scale, there is always an alternative version on offer.

    • Iraq: The Pentagon's explanation of the attack on the village of Mukaradeeb is that the people killed were not taking part in a wedding party or firing their guns in the air in celebration, as the survivors have insisted. They were occupying a "foreign fighter safe house" and had fired on the coalition forces first.

    • Palestinian Territory: The Israeli army's explanation for the deaths in Gaza is that its fire had been directed against an "abandoned structure" as a warning, and that this may have led to casualties when a tank shell went through a hole in the wall created by a previous shell.
    Of course, no one has the monopoly of truth, yet on the facts so far reported in these two cases, as on too many recent occasions, the "official" version is simply not credible.

    • Iraq: The US military admits that it probably killed 40 people at Mukaradeeb but says that none of them were civilians. So did the "foreign fighters" include the young girl, one of several children whose bodies were shown being buried on television? Or the Iraqi wedding singer and his musician brother, whose funeral in Baghdad was reported yesterday by Reuters?

    • Palestinian Territory: In Rafah, it is not believable that casualties on such a large scale - including some 50 injured as well as the dead - were caused by "warning shots" directed towards an unoccupied area (and since when are tanks used to fire such shots anyhow?). As it happens, we carried yesterday evidence of another earlier evasion - or lie - in Rafah: our correspondent was shown the bodies of four dead children all with bullet wounds, , whom the Israeli army claimed had been killed on Tuesday not by its snipers but by Palestinian bombs.
    There may be some argument whether these tragedies merely display a reckless disregard for civilian casualties (perhaps some "foreign fighters" were thought to be in the neighbourhood of the wedding party) or a deliberate design to intimidate unarmed opposition, as often seems more likely when civilians are killed by the Israeli forces.

    What both incidents share is the view that the war on terror justifies extreme behaviour - a view long urged by Ariel Sharon that has now been endorsed by George Bush.

    Wednesday's slaughter came one day after Mr Bush had drawn a direct parallel, in a speech to the pro-Israeli AIPAC lobby, between the two countries' "struggles against terrorism", while failing to repeat early criticism of the Rafah onslaught by secretary of state Colin Powell.

    After the shelling, the White House was again more reluctant than the state department to condemn Israel.

    When the US military spokesman claims that its force took "obligatory action" and Israel says it was acting in Rafah "in self-defence", words lose all credibility.

    Another set of images of dead civilians and grieving relatives is transmitted across the Middle East, and the casual viewer is not even sure whether they are coming from Baghdad or Gaza.

    On grounds of expediency alone, Mr Bush should ask what is gained by this - or rather how much is lost.

    And if the president is not asking, then Tony Blair should be telling him - and telling the rest of us that he is doing so.

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      Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Israel's Collective Punishment of Palestinians Continues Despite International Condemnation


    Israel’s vice prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said ISRAEL is "trying to do all that is possible to ease the suffering of the Palestinians".

    Other Breaking News
  • Senior congressional staffers, policy analysts and lobbyists are all pointing to mounting evidence that "utter chaos is reigning" in Baghdad over investigations into the Iraq oil-for-food program scandal, especially in the wake of today's raid by Iraqi police and U.S. forces on the home of Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad al-Chalabi.During the program established by the United Nations Security Council in 1995, the U.N. reportedly oversaw a flow of funds totaling $15 billion a year. Revenues were held in an escrow account run by BNP Paribas for the U.N. The oil-for-food program became a lucrative source of contracts for Russian and French oil companies, including Lukoil and Total, according to congressional testimony by Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation. The U.N. itself collected a 2.2% commission on every barrel of Iraqi oil sold, generating more than $1 billion in revenue. The U.S. Congress' General Accounting Office estimates that Saddam Hussein's regime siphoned off $10 billion while the U.N oversaw the program. The raid on Chalabi's home--characterized by the White House as resulting from an Iraqi-led investigation--may frustrate the ability of private accounting firm KPMG to complete a comprehensive audit into the oil-for-food program, which generated $67 billion in revenues for Iraq between 1997 and 2002, according to the Heritage Foundation. KPMG began investigating in February 2004 on behalf of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, the Central Bank of Iraq, the Finance and the Trade Ministry and the State Oil Marketing Association. Read here for more

  • The Truth About Ahmed Chalabi:Why the US turned against Chalabi-Only five months ago, Chalabi was a guest of honor sitting right behind Laura Bush at the State of the Union. In dawn raids today, American troops surrounded Ahmed Chalabi's headquarters and home in Baghdad, put a gun to his head, arrested two of his aides, and seized documents. What brought about this astonishing fall from grace of the man who helped provide the faked intelligence that justified last year's war? Read here for more

  • ....While WESTERN LEADERS, fearing political backlash by Jewish/Israeli Lobbies in their countries, could only mouth pathetic voices of dissent to the brutality of Israel's treatment of the PALESTINIANS in this militarily one-sided conflict, with Israel's forces armed and subsidised by the taxpayers of the United States.

  • After killing 41 Palestinians and destroying more than a 100 homes,leaving thousands of Palestian homeless, in a brutal collective punishment of Palestinian civilians for 13 Israeli solders killed, Israeli tanks and troops began withdrawing from Rafah refugee camp on Friday under international pressure. Read here for more

  • The vicious fighting in Gaza this week between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian resistance has caused more casualties than at any time since the current intifada began three-and-a-half years ago.Palestinians are outraged, but even Israelis are asking themselves whether Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's onslaught, with its widespread loss of life and its massive demolition of Palestinian communities, is entirely motivated by security concerns. They are asking whether Mr. Sharon also has a political agenda. Read here for more

  • Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is testing the limits of international patience, even America's.The loss of life in the Gaza Strip is tragic. But the deaths of children from tank fire in the area of a demonstration was the direct result of the Israeli leadership's decision to launch a dramatic military incursion in a heavily populated area it is supposedly abandoning.Politically, it's a rare day when any U.S. administration condemns Israel's actions. The brutality must have been the more shocking for administration officials.Read here for more

  • Israeli military operations kill eight more in Gaza:Defying international criticism, Israel yesterday intensified its military operation in the southern Gaza town of Rafah and its adjoining refugee camps, with eight Palestinians killed by army fire. Brian Cowen, the foreign minister of Ireland, which holds the EU presidency, called the attack on Wednesday "a reckless regard for human life". "The targeting of innocent children in a conflict of this kind must always be condemned," he said. "The killing of children does not serve any legitimate cause and degrades any purpose which it purports to advance." Read here for more

  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday urged Israel to respect the rules of international humanitarian law as its three-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip left a trail of death and destruction in the Rafah camp. “The ICRC has directly witnessed some of these events in Rafah and Gaza while others were reported to us by reliable sources,” the agency's communications head in Amman, Muin Kassis,said today. “We stress again that Palestinian civilians are protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention which applies to the occupied territories,” he added. Israeli human rights organisations also stood up against Israel's flouting of international humanitarian law. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed a petition with the supreme court on Thursday, placing within its list of concerns and demands the “the right to evacuate the dead and wounded from Rafah and total freedom of movement for ambulances.” Read here for more

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     Wednesday, May 19, 2004

      Israel's Brutal Collective Punishment of Palestinians Continues On and ON....

    Other Breaking News
  • Ten Palestinians, mainly children and teenagers, were killed yesterday and 50 people injured when an Israeli tank shell ripped through a crowd of protesters in the Gaza Strip.Two men could be seen lying on the street while bloodied victims, many of them boys under the age of 10, were loaded into ambulances and taxicabs.Doctors in the overwhelmed Rafah hospital said the floors were "running with blood" and that the hospital was facing shortages of beds and medicine. The hospital's small morgue was overflowing, and bodies had to be stored in a flower freezer in a nearby building. British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the offensive "unacceptable and wrong." Despite international condemnation, Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Israel will push on with the operation. It "is essential and will continue as long as necessary," he said. Since the Intifada, 2,806 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli soldiers while 921 Israelis had died due to the conflict since then. Read here for more

  • The United States abstained, instead of voting for, as other remaining 14 members did, the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's mass demolition of Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip. It was good enough, though NOT morally sufficient, for the UN Security Council to pass the resolution on Wednesday. All the other 14 council members (including the UK), voted for the resolution drawn up by the Arab Group within the United Nations. This is only the first "anti-Israeli" resolution adopted by the 15-nation council this year. The United States believes, in the words of James Cunningham, the US Ambassador to the UN, that Israel, despite having the strongest military force in the Middle East "has a right to self-defense," against the firepower of the Palestinians .. and that the US abstained, due in part to US concerns that Israel's actions "have not enhanced Israel's security," instead of the security and safety of Palestinian civilians. Read here for more

    .. While WESTERN LEADERS, fearing political backlash by Jewish/Israeli Lobbies in their countries, could only mouth pathetic voices of dissent to the brutality of Israel's treatment of the PALESTINIANS in this militarily one-sided conflict, with Israel's forces armed and subsidised by the taxpayers of the United States.

    Arab Leaders are more fearful of their own political demise and loss of their personal financial investments in the West, to launch any meaningful response to this catastrophic conflict.

    The response by Western democracies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sufficient proof to the Muslim/Arab streets of the poverty and corruptibility of the political and democratic institutions of the West, notably the United States, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    It is indeed a disgrace and an insult to human decency and dignity..

  • Israeli forces killed at least 20 people, including children, one of the highest death tolls in a single day of the present intifada, as it occupied the Tel al-Sultan district on the margins of the camp in preparation for an expected assault on the heart of Rafah. Palestinians fear much greater bloodshed, however, once the Israelis attack areas of Rafah where resistance is usually stronger. Many Palestinians were bracing themselves for a long and bloody battle yesterday. The army has sealed off Rafah from the rest of Gaza. Read here for more

  • President Bush affirmed Israel's right to defend itself Tuesday and urged Palestinians to reject violence. Israel now faces international condemnation for the move. US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, meanwhile, is setting up a meeting with Israeli Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was in Washington for a speech to the pro-Israel lobby.And more talks while deaths mount in the Gaza Strip. Read here for more

    Israeli army tanks lined up near the Jewish settlement of Rafiah Yam, in the Gush Katif block of settlements of the southern Gaza Strip during ongoing military operations in the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah, Monday, May 17, 2004

    Israeli troops preparing weapons to conduct operations in the nearby southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah

    A Palestinian girl sits on a donkey as family members load furniture whilst they prepare to leave their home in an area marked for possible demolition by the Israeli Army, in the Rafah Refugee camp

  • Rafah Turns Into Killing Field: Response from the Western leaders -the United States said it was seeking clarification from Israel about the operation which officials said would last at least a week. The European Union sent a senior envoy for talks with Israeli leaders... while Israel's army with US-funded helicopters and gunships are on the offensive killing innocent lives and destroying Palestinian homes. Read here for more

    A Palestinian woman holds a baby in the rubble of her house after it was hit by a missile from an Israeli helicopter, at the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip , May 18, 2004.

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon toasts during a meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Tuesday May 18, 2004.

    A Palestinian woman weeps in the rubble of her house after it was hit by a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter at the Rafah refugee camp southern Gaza Strip , May 18, 2004

    An old Palestinian man rests in the street next to destroyed houses at the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip

  • The Rafah hospital morgue became so overloaded on Tuesday that five bodies were shifted to vegetable freezers in a nearby market for preservation, medics said. Palestinian medics said Israeli soldiers held up ambulances trying to evacuate wounded. "We are afraid," said Miriam Abu Jazzar, surveying the blood-stained ruins of her daughter's home, smashed by a missile. "Every hour there is shooting." Read here for more

    A Palestinian boy kisses one of four bodies of men killed in an Israeli army operation as they lay in a makeshift morgue at Najar hospital in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip , early Tuesday, May 18, 2004.

  • Gaza -Horror beyond belief: Since Tuesday, May 11, thousands of people have been denied the simple right to return to their homes; this includes infants, children, students, employees, women, and men of all ages. There is no law in this life or world that should prevent someone from returning to his or her home.Yet in Palestine this is happening. And it is Israel, the storied democratic state, that is practicing this grave violation of very basic human rights. Read here for more

  • Since the intifada began in September 2000, 2,806 Palestinians and 921 Israelis.Asmaa Mughayer, 15, and her brother Ahmed, 13, were shot dead yesterday as they fed pigeons on the roof of their house. Their elder brother, Ali, 24, had shouted at them to come down because it was dangerous. When he heard no response, he climbed the steps to find his sister and brother lying dead in a pool of blood. On 18 February 2004 Israeli soldiers shot and seriously injured Yusuf, 15, the son of Khalil Bashir, a school principal living in Kfar Darom in the Gaza strip. At the time Yusuf was outside the house with his father seeing off visitors, including two United Nations staff members. The three visitors had just got into their vehicle, clearly marked with the UN emblem, and were about to leave when a single shot was fired from the Israeli watchtower. Yusuf was hit in the back by a bullet. He is still in hospital and it is not known if he will walk again.At least 88 houses were destroyed in the camp last week, making more than 1,000 people homeless. The greatest burden of house destruction has fallen on Gaza, with more than 2,200 demolitions in the past three-and-a-half years, and Rafah the worst afflicted area. Read here for more

    The bodies of Palestinian Ahmed Mughayer, 13, and his sister Asma, 16, are wrapped in blankets after being brought from the Talesultan area of the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip , Tuesday, May 18, 2004

  • Pro-Israel President George W. Bush apologetically told the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) yesterday that the recent events in Gaza were just "troubling". Read here for more

    A Palestinian woman wounded in an Israeli missile strike is rushed into Najar hospital in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip , early Tuesday, May 18, 2004

  • Amnesty International yesterday accused Israel of war crimes and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention in its destruction of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the past three years of fighting.Amnesty said that Israel has demolished more than 3,000 homes during the current conflict, most of them in Gaza.Israel also destroyed 10 percent of Gaza's agricultural land and uprooted more than 226,000 trees there in 2002 and 2003, it added.
    Read here for more

    A Palestinian woman sits amid the rubble of her house after it was hit by a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter at the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip , May 18, 2004

  • Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia used his meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Monday to ask the United States to pressure Israel into ending the isolation of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and to allow him to travel freely throughout the West Bank, Gaza and overseas. What was Rice's response? Rice said Arafat, whom Israel has confined to his Ramallah headquarters, must first relinquish power. While Israel pursues collective punishment on innocent Palestinians, Rice said the Palestinian Authority, after its institutional and security infrastructure already destroyed by Israel, must carry out a series of security reforms and other steps stipulated in the road map as preparation for a gradual Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.Read here for more

    A Palestinian woman carries her belongings while she leaving her house at the Rafah refugee southern Gaza Strip May 17, 2004

  • British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Tuesday condemned Israel’s demolition of Gaza Strip homes as “unacceptable,” as a major crackdown continued in the southern flashpoint town of Rafah.“The British government is wholly opposed to this policy and practice of demolishing houses in this way by the Israeli defence force,” he said, as a major Israeli offensive continued in the area.“It is unacceptable and it’s also contrary to the roadmap,” he told reporters at an EU meeting in Brussels, referring to the internationally-backed peace plan for the Middle East. Earlier, EU foreign ministers issued a statement condemning the demolitions as “disproportionate” and called on Israel to stop them immediately. ISRAEL WILL NOT LISTEN. Read here for more

    A Palestinian woman stands in the rubble of a house destroyed house in recent days by the Israeli Army, in the Rafah Refugee camp, next to the border with Egypt, Monday, May 17, 2004.

  • The Israel Defense Forces operation in Rafah did NOT receive prominent coverage in the American press.Reports from Gaza come only after the coverage of Iraq and the main national news stories, such as single-sex marriages in Massachusetts and the rocketing price of gasoline. An editorial in The Washington Post, which carried the headline "Wrong way in Gaza," warned that Israel must be careful not to leave thousands of Palestinians homeless as a result of the operation.
    Read here for more

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     Tuesday, May 18, 2004

      Australia: Howard Govt's Hypocrisy on Pact for Anti-Corruption in Asia-Pacific

    Read here article by Hamish McDonald and Craig Skehan "Big stink in little China" in Sydney Morning Herald

    May 18, 2004

    Excerpts from Hamish McDonald and Craig Skehan's article

    On November 30 2003, Australian Federal Justice Minister, Chris Ellison,joined Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in announcing Australia's endorsement of the Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Asia and the Pacific, proposed by the Asian Development Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

    When Hong Kong wanted Canberra to return two Australian businessmen to stand trial, it refused, despite the Australian courts having approved the extradition of the two Australian businessmen.

    In Hongkong, two Australian building executives were alleged to have provided bribes to Macau site inspectors to falsify records.

    But Australian Federal Justice Minister, Chris Ellison, blocked the extradition of the two Australian executives wanted in Hong Kong to stand trial over alleged irregularities at the Tung Chung development.

    As a result, Australia's standing in the key Asia financial centre has been damaged.

    Given the potential for misuse of Hong Kong's open financial system and free trading port by money launderers and triads, this would be a major gap in Australia's legal armour. Hong Kong is seeking the return of four others from Australia, while Australia wants to extradite three people from Hong Kong, one of whom is allegedly involved in a serious fraud case.

    Hong Kong law officials suspect Ellison's unexplained decision signals a wider interruption to a previously trouble-free extradition arrangement, and some have angrily suggested Hong Kong should go slow on Australian requests. "The initial reaction was if Australia can't be reasonable, why should we be reasonable?" one senior Hong Kong official said.

    Some Hong Kong officials are suggesting Ellison did not want to send white Australians back to face justice in an Asian court. Hong Kong's Secretary for Education, Li Kwok-cheung, said in Australia last week,

    "It has given Hong Kong people a very unfavourable impression of what Australian justice is about."
    The Extradition Case

    The row revolves around the request for Carl Voigt, 46, of Brisbane, and David Roger Hendy, 42, of Perth, to stand trial in Hong Kong.

    The men are former executive engineers of a piling company in Hong Kong, I-P Foundations. Their company is said to have installed 72 out of 76 bored piles that were shorter than the prescribed length at the site of a high-rise housing estate near a new subway station.

    The commission said the substandard work created a "frightening" hazard of a major building collapse putting hundreds of lives at risk.

    A resident engineer and two others have been sentenced to jail terms of two to five years.

    Voigt and Hendy, who left Hong Kong before the investigation, were arrested by Federal Police in October 2002 at the commission's request.

    Their extradition was approved by Australia courts, but proceedings were dropped against Voigt last October on Ellison's decision, and those against Hendy in December.

    Hong Kong ministers and officials are increasingly riled that diplomatic protests, conveyed through the Australian Consulate-General, are NOT being acknowledged as such by either Ellison or the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer.

    Questioned in Parliament, Ellison has refused to reveal the reasons behind the decision.

    I-P Foundations has since been merged with Intrafor, another foundation group owned by the same French parent, the construction group Bouygues.

    In January, the Hong Kong corruption commission announced arrests in a separate alleged defective foundation case involving the successor company Intrafor.

    Three former justices of the Australian High Court - Anthony Mason, Gerard Brennan, and Daryl Dawson - sit on Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal.

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      Palestinian Christians Forgotten by Christians in the US: NOT ALL Palestinians Displaced by Israeli Policies are Muslims:

    "(Palestinian) Christians find themselves under the hammer of the Israeli occupation to NO LESS an extent than Muslims, yet America—supposedly a Christian country—stands idly by because its most politically influential Christians have decided that Palestinian Christians are acceptable collateral damage in their apocalyptic quest.

    Abbas, a Palestinian Christian whose family lived in Jerusalem for many generations until the purge of 1948 says: "To be a Christian from the land of Christ is an honor. To be expelled from that land is an injury, and these Zionist Christians in America add insult."

    -Anders Strindberg
    Other Breaking News
  • At least twenty-seven Palestinians were killed, more than 200 injured, including 35 children. All casualties were civilians. Destruction was widespread: in the Zeitoun neighborhood, 100 Shops and workshops were destroyed, 6 houses totally destroyed, and 17 houses partly destroyed, 67 cars destroyed, and a total of 116 families made homeless. In the Rafah area 1,125 were made homeless.Israeli troops used 35 military vehicles, 3 Apache helicopters, and were backed up by unmanned monitoring aircraft and also gunboats on the coast when they invaded the Rafah area during which the Apache helicopters fired several missiles into the refugee camp.Read here for more

  • Amnesty International said Tuesday that Israel has destroyed more than 3,000 Palestinian houses since the second intifada began three-and-a-half years ago, and demanded the army stop razing civilian homes. Amnesty called on Israel's military to halt demolitions of Palestinian buildings "without absolute military necessity" in a report issued amidst Israeli threats to raze hundreds of houses in the southern Gaza Strip in an assault on militant strongholds. Read here for more

  • The Israeli army has sealed off a refugee camp and causing panic among its Palestinian residents.
    Thousands of people had been fleeing Rafah camp, until the army bulldozers broke up the road on Monday morning. Dozens of houses were torn down last week, leaving 1,100 people homeless. Israel plans to widen a buffer zone between the camp and Gaza's border after five soldiers were killed there by an anti-tank bomb last week. Read here for more

  • The Israeli army sealed off the increasingly tense southern Gaza town of Rafah yesterday in what fearful residents assumed was the first stage of a large-scale military operation that might include the demolition of several hundred homes. Tanks were deployed at points on the main road between Rafah, on the Egyptian border, and Khan Younis to its north, amid growing speculation that the army was on the point of razing the homes for a major widening of the Israeli patrol route along the Egyptian border. Read here for more

  • Israeli security forces have prevented distribution of the three main Palestinian newspapers in the Gaza Strip for the last six days. Copies of Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat al-Jadida, which are both printed in the West Bank town of Ramallah, as well as the east Jerusalem-based Al-Quds daily, have been turned back at the main Erez crossing point since last Tuesday. The papers are usually delivered at the Israeli side of Erez and then passed through the crossing point before being picked up by delivery drivers on the Palestinian side. There are no newspaper printing presses in the Gaza Strip. Read here for more

  • The United Nations Security Council was due to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss a request by Arab nations told hold an immediate meeting to consider Israel's widespread destruction of Palestinian homes in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Read here for more

  • In return for his wholehearted and unstinting support for Ariel Sharon, President Bush has asked the Israeli prime minister not to expand the West Bank settlements, not to engage in targeted killings of Palestinians and not to demolish Palestinian homes.The Israeli leader has largely ignored all three. As a gesture to Sharon, Bush recently reversed three decades of U.S. Mideast policy by endorsing a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank and no right of return for Palestinians who fled after earlier wars. U.S. policy had been that all three issues were to be resolved by mutual negotiation.Last week, Israelis demolished 88 homes in Rafah, leaving over 1,000 homeless in that sprawling Gaza slum. That brings to 2,000 the total of demolished homes there, according to the United Nations, leaving 11,000 homeless since 2000. And this is one of the most impoverished places on the planet. Read here for more

  • An annual U.S. State Department report released Monday in Washington leveled criticism at Israel's security forces, calling their record in the West Bank and Gaza Strip poor and noting that the interactions between troops and international activists have deteriorated in the past year. The report's main points are similar to those made in last year's report. The State Department accuses Israel of excessive use of force, leading to "numerous deaths." Israel was also accused of employing strict closures and arbitrary arrests of Palestinians in the territories, of hindering Palestinian medical personnel and of detaining pedestrians and drivers at checkpoints located throughout the territories. Read here for more

  • Read here for more in article by Anders Strindberg, "Forgotten Christians" in American Conservative

    Excerpts from Anders Stringber article:
    Anders Strindberg is an academic and a journalist specializing in Mideast politics.

    At the time of the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, it is estimated that the Christians of Palestine numbered some 350,000,(forming) almost 20 percent of the total population at the time.

    Their forbears had listened to St. Peter in Jerusalem as he preached at the first Pentecost.

    Yet Zionist doctrine held that Palestine was "a land without a people for a people without a land."

    Of the 750,000 Palestinians that were forced from their homes in 1948, some 50,000 were Christians, 35 percent of the total number of Christians living in Palestine at the time.

    Yet U.S. media and politicians have become accustomed to thinking of and talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one in which an enlightened democracy is constantly forced to repel attacks from crazy-eyed Islamists bent on the destruction of the Jewish people and the imposition of an Islamic state. (And that) Palestinians are equated with Islamists, and Islamists with terrorists.

    In the process of “Judaizing” Palestine, numerous convents, hospices, seminaries, and churches were either destroyed or cleared of their Christian owners and custodians.

    In one of the most spectacular attacks on a Christian target, on May 17, 1948, the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate was shelled with about 100 mortar rounds—launched by Zionist forces from the already occupied monastery of the Benedictine Fathers on Mount Zion. The bombardment also damaged St. Jacob’s Convent, the Archangel’s Convent, and their appended churches, their two elementary and seminary schools, as well as their libraries, killing eight people and wounding 120.

    Today it is believed that the number of Christians in Israel and occupied Palestine number some 175,000, just over 2 percent of the entire population, but the numbers are rapidly dwindling due to mass emigration.

    Now, most of (Palestian Christians) live in Lebanon, where they share in the same bottomless misery as all other refugees, confined to camps where schools are under-funded and overcrowded, where housing is ramshackle, and sanitary conditions are appalling. Most, however, have fled the region altogether.

    It is estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 Palestinian Christians currently live in the U.S.

    The Palestinian Christians see themselves, and are seen by their Muslim compatriots, as an integral part of the Palestinian people, and they have long been a vital part of the Palestinian struggle.

    As the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, the Reverend Riah Abu al-Assal has explained,
    "The Arab Palestinian Christians are part and parcel of the Arab Palestinian nation. We have the same history, the same culture, the same habits and the same hopes."
    During the 1930s, Hajj Amin al-Hussein, the leader of the Palestinian struggle against the British colonialists, surrounded himself with Christian advisors and functionaries.

    In the 1950s and ’60s,some of the most prominent militants of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were of Christian origin . For instance, George Habash, a Greek Orthodox medical doctor from al-Lod, created the Arab Nationalists’ Movement and went on to found the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

    Naif Hawatmeh, also Greek Orthodox, from al-Salt in Jordan, founded and still today heads up the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

    Hannan Ashrawi, one of the Palestinian Authority’s most effective spokespersons, is a Christian.

    In fact, over the decades, many of the rank and file among the secular nationalist groups of the PLO have been Christians.

    For them, the conflict with Israel is simply about resistance against occupation.

    The Lebanese Hezbollah is widely admired among the refugees in Lebanon and in Palestine. One Christian Palestinian refugee in Damascus remarked:
    ."We have received far more support and comfort from the Hezbollah in Lebanon than from our fellow Christians in the West. I want to know, why don’t the Christians in the West do anything to help us? Are the teachings of Jesus nothing but empty slogans to them?"
    This is a justified and important question, but the answer is not straightforward.
  • The Catholic Church has long argued for an end to the Israeli occupation and for improvement of the Palestinians’ situation.

  • The leaders of the Eastern Orthodox churches have taken similar, often more strongly worded positions.

  • Likewise, many Lutheran and Calvinist churches run organizations and programs that seek to ease the suffering of the Palestinians and draw attention to the injustices with which they are faced.
  • However, their impact on the political situation has been minimal. This is due to) the Evangelical movement that have adopted Zionism as a core element of their religious doctrine.

    Christian Zionists in the U.S. are currently organized in an alliance with the pro-Israel lobby and the neoconservative elements of the Republican Party, enabling them to put significant pressure on both the president and members of Congress.

    They are among the most influential shapers of policy in the US , including individuals such as Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell, and groups such as the National Unity Coalition for Israel, Christians for Israel, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, and Chosen People Ministries. (They) are only too eager to sacrifice their Palestinian fellow Christians on the altar of Zionism. They do not want to hear about coreligionists’ suffering at the hands of Israel.

    One of the most potent forces behind the Evangelical Zionist influence in Washington is Tom DeLay, leader of the Republican majority in the House. Part of DeLay’s growing influence within the Republican Party stems from the fact that his campaign committees managed to raise an impressive $12 million in 2001-2002.

    Washington Post writer Jim VandeHei suggested,
    "In recent years, DeLay has become one of the most outspoken defenders of Israel and has been rewarded with a surge of donations from the Jewish community."
    DeLay had called for activists to back pro-Israel candidates who "stand unashamedly for Jesus Christ."
    In July 2003, Tom DeLay traveled to Israel and addressed the Knesset, saying he was an "Israeli at heart." He said " the Palestinians have been oppressed and abused , but never by Israel, only by their own leaders."

    (Palestinian) Christians find themselves under the hammer of the Israeli occupation to NO LESS an extent than Muslims, yet America—supposedly a Christian country—stands idly by because its most politically influential Christians have decided that Palestinian Christians are acceptable collateral damage in their apocalyptic quest.

    Abbas, a Palestinian Christian whose family lived in Jerusalem for many generations until the purge of 1948 says
    "To be a Christian from the land of Christ is an honor. To be expelled from that land is an injury, and these Zionist Christians in America add insult.

    Is the State of Israel not in fact the fulfillment of God’s promise and a necessary step in the second coming of Christ?

    You’re kidding, right? You know what they do to our people and our land. If I thought that was part of God’s plan, I’d be an atheist in a second."
    Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” is playing to full houses in the Syrian capital Damascus. Watching it here turns out to be much the same as watching it on opening night in New York—customarily rowdy moviegoers observe a reverent silence, the usual sound of candy wrappers is replaced by sobbing and gasping, and, at the end of it all, the audience files out of the theater in silence and contemplation.

    Many of those watching the movie on this occasion are Palestinian Christian refugees whose parents or grandparents were purged from their homeland—the land of Christ—at the foundation of Israel in 1948.

    For them, the movie has an underlying symbolic meaning not easily perceived in the West: not only is it a depiction of the trial, scourging, and death of Jesus, it is also a symbolic depiction of the fate of the Palestinian people.

    Zaki, a 27-year old Palestinian Christian whose family hails from Haifa says,
    "This is how we feel.

    We take beating after beating at the hands of the world, they crucify our people, they insult us, but we refuse to surrender."

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     Monday, May 17, 2004

      ISRAEL's Supreme Court Says OK to Use NAZI Tactic of Collective Punishment on Helpless Palestinians: Israeli Army Bulldozed more than 100 Palestinian Homes

    Other Breaking News

  • LATEST!!: The current President of the Iraqi Governing Council, Izzedine Salim, also known as Abdel-Zahraa Othman, was killed this morning in a car bombing in Baghdad. Salim was killed in an attack on his four-car convoy near a U.S. base west of Baghdad, Qatar-based Al Jazeera reported.Izzadine Saleem is the current Iraqi Council President, a rotating position. He was the highest-ranking Iraqi official killed during the U.S.-run occupation. His death occurred about six weeks before the United States plans to transfer power to Iraqis on June 30 and underscores the risks facing those perceived as owing their positions to the Americans. Read HERE and HERE for more

  • ISRAEL's army to destroy hundreds MORE homes... Read here for more article by Donald Macintyre

  • North Korea: North Korea vowed Friday to never accept US demands for a complete dismantling of its nuclear programme, calling it a humiliating measure that can only be imposed on a country defeated in a war.Read here for more

  • US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved a secret operation last year that expanded interrogation methods used in Afghanistan to the Abu Ghraib prisonin Baghdad, The New Yorker magazine reported Saturday. Rumsfeld authorized the highly secret operation to obtain intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq after deadly bombings in August last year, said the report, citing unnamed current and former intelligence officials. The report was released on the magazine's Web site. The program "encouraged physical coercion and the sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq," the report added. Read here for more

  • Read here article by Justin Raimondo "The Secret of Abu Ghraib -Exposed!": " Thank the gods for Seymour Hersh - without him, the truth about what went on at Abu Ghraib prison – and the dark forces behind it – would probably still be locked away in a safe somewhere deep in the bowels of the Pentagon. His latest piece in the New Yorker follows up on his earlier exposé. We now learn, the "black ops" program was personally approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and implemented by his subordinates, chiefly undersecretary for intelligence Stephen A. Cambone, who said on Capitol Hill last week, "We didn't know!" As it turns out, they did know. In the wake of 9/11, a special Pentagon operation was set up by Rumsfeld – code-named "Copper Green" – that was in effect a secret army, complete with its own air force. Rumsfeld commanded into existence an elite unit of "black" operatives to be used to go after Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. What is termed a "special-access program" allows officials to get around such cumbersome obstacles as constitutional government and the rule of law, as Hersh points out. Read here for more

  • London-based, Australian journalist John Pilger's latest documentary film, Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror, has won the gold award in the political category at the prestigious 2004 WorldMedia Festival. Founded in 2000, the Hamburg-based WorldMedia Festival is the only global competition for all categories of media. This year the festival attracted 300 entries from 23 nations. Read here for more

  • Defense Secretary Rumsfeld produced a list of 60 companies but withheld all mention of two of the biggest and best-connected recruiting firms alleged to be at the centre of the torture scandal - CACI in Washington and Titan in San Diego, California. CACI, for example, placed Steve Stefanowicz, a former reservist from the Philadelphia area who had once worked in naval intelligence, in Iraq. According to his fellow interrogator Torin Nelson, CACI hired interrogators over the phone, without even meeting them. CACI website entries show increasingly frantic efforts to attract interrogators, with the qualifications required being reduced from seven years' interrogation experience, to five years, to two. In Iraq, the status of the CACI interrogators was ambiguous. Mr Nelson said some of his colleagues went around in desert camouflage uniform. "We contractors were often able to establish our own method of actually implementing the chain of command's intent, which was to glean information for intelligence purposes." Mr Stefanowicz ended up being accused in the now-notorious leaked classified Taguba report, of telling untrained and unsupervised reservist military policemen to abuse the Abu Ghraib prisoners. He remains in Iraq, according to the US army on "administrative duties" while investigations continue. The accused soldiers below him, however, all face courts martial, beginning this month. strong>Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution said "No lawmakers seemed to know that they were hiring civilians as interrogators. They had this concept that the civilians were there to mow lawns and answer phones." Read here for more

  • Latest Coalition Military Fatality in Iraq: As of 15 May 2004

    Total Fatalities since May 1, 2003: 721

    March 20th through May 1st: 139

    Hostile US Fatalities Since May 1, 2003: 463

    Hostile Fatalities Since May 1, 2003: 519

    US deaths since July 2, 2003: 578
    (Pres. Bush announces, "Bring Them On")

    Total Fatalities since December 13, 2003: 349
    (Saddam Hussein is captured)

    Total Hostile Fatalities since December 13, 2003: 281
    (Saddam Hussein is captured)

    * Other - Polish: 4

    * Other - Danish: 1

    * Other - Spanish: 11 (1 Military Diplomat, 2 Army Soldier, 8 Central Intelligence Agents )

    * Other - Italian: 17

    * Other - Ukrainian: 6

    * Other - Bulgarian: 6

    * Other - Thai: 2

    * Other - Estonian: 1

    * Other - Salvadoran: 1

    * Other - Netherlands 1

    Click here for more statistics on casualities in Iraq

  • Read here article by Mark Mackinnon "Israel approves razing Palestinian homes" in Globe and Mail
    Dozens of Palestinians fled their homes here Sunday in anticipation of another wave of demolitions after Israel's Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a petition from a Palestinian rights group seeking to stop the razing of homes in Rafah, which is located on the border between Gaza and Egypt.

    The three judges said the army had a "real, imminent need" that justified the demolitions.

    During three days last week, dozens of houses were destroyed in some of the most intense fighting in the nearly four-year-long struggle between Israelis and Palestinians. The United Nations relief officials who oversee this refugee camp said more than 1,000 people were made homeless. Read here for more
    Israel's Supreme Court gave its approval to the plan, which is expected to leave thousands of people homeless, by lifting a temporary injunction on the demolition of homes in the Rafah refugee camp.

    The court rejected an appeal by Palestinian families, ruling that the demolitions could be justified as a self-defence measure.

    "Hundreds of houses have been marked for destruction," aides quoted Moshe Yaalon, Israeli army chief of staff, as telling a weekly cabinet meeting.

    A late-night missile strike in Gaza City knocked out power to 40,000 people while targeting an office of Palestinian president Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

    Despite the opposition of the White House and thousands of peace demonstrators, Israel said Sunday that it will intensify its operations in the Gaza Strip and demolish "hundreds" more Palestinian homes in an effort to stop arms smuggling and attacks against its troops

    No time frame was given for the demolition, but Israel's Channel One television reported that troops and vehicles were massing outside Rafah last night after the Supreme Court's decision.

    Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz reportedly said that he will step up military activity. "We started continuous air strikes. We will deepen the fighting," news agency reports quoted him as saying.

    Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia accused the Israeli court of "ethnic-cleansing crimes and collective punishment of innocent civilians." The Palestinian Authority was expected to seek a UN Security Council resolution to stop the demolitions.

    The plan to bulldoze yet more homes also came in the face of criticism from Washington, Israel's staunchest ally.

    Speaking at a gathering of world leaders at the World Economic Forum in neighbouring Jordan, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the White House could not support home demolitions as a military tactic.

    "The kind of actions that they're taking in Rafah with the destruction of Palestinian homes we oppose," Mr. Powell said.

    The apparent aim of Israel's home-demolition plan in Rafah is to widen what's known as the Philadelphi route, a thin stretch of land running between the Gaza Strip and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Israel plans to hold on to the route even in the event of a pullout from Gaza, saying it needs to maintain a military presence there in order to halt arms smuggling across the border.

    Sunday night, dozens of Palestinians began evacuating their homes after hearing news of the Supreme Court's decision.

    "I don't know what to take. I will start with clothes or the refrigerator or the television," 52-year-old Abed al-Majid Abu Shamala said as he prepared to leave a four-storey building in Rafah.

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