Archive for May, 2011

Our American congress working hard for a foreign country, Israel. This is called treason.

May 30, 2011
Is the Arab Spring Spreading to US Congressional Staffs?
Franklin Lamb
Beirut

Millions of American voters were offended this week by the vulgar display on Capitol Hill which witnessed the annual rite of nearly 2/3’s of Members on Congress stumbling over one another at the annual AIPAC Conference in order to ingratiate themselves with their hosts and to protect their sinecures.

Equally nauseating to many was what some on Capitol Hill are calling “Congressional Black Tuesday” when they assert Congress cheapened its status in American and foreign eyes and fouled itself by taking the role of undignified cheerleaders for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during his appearance before a joint session of Congress, an invitation normally reserved for august occasions and accomplished personages.

With 41 applause interruptions and 29 standing ovations, even with some appearing half-hearted and somewhat forced, Congress sent a message that the Legislative branch, increasingly under the control of a foreign power, and not the Executive branch, will continue to determine American policy toward Israel and the Middle East.

Some Congressional scholars, historians, and longtime observers of Congress are expressing dismay over what seems to have dramatically diminished the claimed, “World’s greatest deliberative body”.

Among those objecting to what they see as the corruption of Congress are an increasing number of the more than 18,000 Congressional staffers, many of whom work as many as 70 hours per week in their sometimes highly competitive jobs.  Most Congressional staffers understand and respect the institution of Congress, know their Members politics, are aware of American interests in the Middle East and are fairly well informed on the Question of Palestine.

However, many are not happy and are beginning to rise up against what they are witnessing in their offices which is the increasing smothering of their erstwhile legislative aid roles by agents of Israel such as AIPAC. The latter are  seen as increasingly preempting their roles and taking over some of their work by flooding their offices with position papers and then lobbying incessantly to see their ‘recommendations” implemented.

It is not always easy being a Congressional staffer and many have been and continue to be abused in various ways, some of which become public in an institution that values discretion and averting attention from their Members foibles.  Yet working in Congress can be interesting and often rewarding work for those wanting to serve their constituents and help solve myriad problems on the local and federal level.
Thanks to Skype and email, there is no shortage of access these days to friends and acquaintance who work on the Hill and whose work assignments include US Middle East policy.  This longtime observer of Congress and former staffer has been somewhat pleasantly surprised by the strong reaction of some Congressional aides to last week’s events on the Hill and the rapid changes happening across the Middle East.

Congressional staff reactions to the Obama and Netanyahu AIPAC speeches and particularly the Israeli PM’s speech to Congress is strong and leads to the tentative conclusion that the effects the Arab Spring are being felt in both Houses of Congress and well as numerous support agencies such as the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress.

Many House and Senate staffers identify with those of similar age who have taken to the streets across the Middle East who are thought of as courageous, smart and reasonable.  They also understand that the Arab Awakening of 2011 is an historic game changer and they are often deeply sympathetic and supportive. Perhaps because of their knowledge of the issues, they express abhorrence to the Zionist falsehoods and disinformation that comes from AIPAC offices at the bottom of Capitol Hill and some of which were repeated by Netanyahu in their workplace.

Virtually all Congressional staffers who objected to Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress expressed rejection of his following assertions as ludicrously false:

• Of 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights.”

• Throughout the millennial history of the Jewish capital, the only time that Jews, Christians and Muslims could worship freely, could have unfettered access to their holy sites, has been during Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem.”

• In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers.”

• In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli prime ministers to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six-Day War.”

• We have helped the Palestinian economic growth by removing hundreds of barriers and roadblocks to the free flow of goods and people, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable.”

• The Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel.”

• They (Palestinians) continue to educate their children to hate.”

• A nuclear armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
How Netanyahu received his “speech of a lifetime” ovations

Two staffers who work with the House Foreign Affairs Committee and who know the issue of Palestine very well and also how AIPAC operates on the Hill explained to this observer how Netanyahu’s “speech of a lifetime” was organized by AIPAC.

Firstly, orders were issued that nothing was to be left to chance and they essentially succeeded but for the protesting slogans shouted by Rae Abileah before AIPAC undercover security tackled her and she ended up in the hospital, groped, injured and under arrest.

“Here is how Bibi got his “spontaneous” applause”, one and then the other explained.  “AIPAC, as usual with visiting Israeli officials, edited his speech for most favorable local consumption.  Marks were made at the end of intended applause lines for Bibi to highlight them verbally.  Key Members such as Eric Cantor (R-VA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Harry Reid (D-NV) were designated as floor leaders and were seated in strategic locations in the Chamber.  Once Bibi began his speech the floor leaders would leap up at the indicated cue phases and begin to applaud enthusiastically. Quite naturally, others would follow either not wanting to be appear impolite or to stand out and be noticed as not showing proper support for Israel and its Prime Minister.

“In addition, AIPAC staffers who prowl congressional offices daily let it be known that videos of the Members listening to Bibi would be kept on file and insinuated that how the Member’s performed during his speech to Congress would be taken into consideration when planning this summer’s Jewish fundraising events.

One aide, who supports his bosses “moderately pro-Palestinian positions”, defended his applause for Netanyahu with these words:  “Look, my guy could not just sit there and be conspicuous. Of course he resents being forced to fake support for Israel’s insane policies that he believes harms our country. Believe me many Members feel like him and many Hill staffers are disgusted by what we see.  But the guy needs to keep his job to work on other issues like protecting Medicare and stopping home foreclosures.  Plus not many of our constituents probably even watched him grovel on TV so it was kind of a freebie for us.  What would you have done?”

A surprising number of Congressional staffers explain that they feel they are stigmatized abroad and particularly in the Middle East as being part of the Israel lobby when they are not.  One staffer explained: “This sounds arrogant but we who work in Congress know this subject much better than the general American public and when you understand the history of Palestine and its takeover by Europeans and the continuing ethnic cleansing of the rightful owners of the land, how do you think we feel?  We feel the same as the Palestinians refugees spread all around the World feel.  We are human beings too. Arab and foreign media often lumps us with the Members of Congress whereas in reality many of us are working for change.”

One lady, whose job it is to summarize and update Arab-Israeli conflict developments for her boss who is a Senator from the Midwest explained that “sometimes AIPAC sees what I write and will contact and challenge me on my work that should be between me and my boss. Everyone knows that Members of Congress are regularly pressured and targeted by AIPAC.  You should know that dozens of staffers have been fired from their jobs on the Hill during the 15 years I have been here.  I may be next.”  And then she added, “But until that day comes I will continue to support the Palestinian cause and work to change our foreign policy and see that it’s made in the USA and not in Tel Aviv.”

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be contacted c/o fplamb@gmail.com

Netanyahu lies lies lies….

May 28, 2011


Netanyahu speech to congress was nothing short of nauseating and revolting to say the least. So many lies and distortions were said by the criminal Netanyahu and yet congress gave him 27 standing ovations 3 more than US president Obama got when he addressed congress. I wonder who is the real leader of this country. In any other country when some one pledge allegiance to another country it’s called treason…..

Kamal Hassan, 


Date: Sat, 28 May 2011 01:59:19 +0000
From: HappyHeartMom@comcast.net
Subject: Omar Barghouti: Obama, the Arab Spring and Irrelevance

Obama, the Arab Spring and Irrelevance

Omar Barghouti, May 24, 2011

Article Courtesy: Mondoweiss.net

In my view, so did the US, relatively speaking, but few in the US establishment are yet ready to admit that. In his speech before AIPAC on Sunday, 22 May, Mr. Obama came across, again, as more of an Israel advocate than a US president, further alienating Arab — and many other — audiences.

With Arabs crossing the barrier of fear and taking the initiative to rebuild their societies freely, on democratic principles, the last thing they need is the US government’s offer for help; having seen exactly how the US is building democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. Obama will excuse Arabs for being skeptical about his offer, to put it mildly.

The Arab Spring happened despite the US administration’s decades-old staunch support for the dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere. US support for the Saudi dictatorship, arguably the most totalitarian and reactionary of all, has been critical in suppressing popular revolt and democratic reform in the oil-rich oligarchy. In Tunisia and Egypt, only after victory became a fait accompli did the US and most of Europe start paying lip service to the need for democratization and an orderly transfer of power.

To underline this point, the US has maintained its crucial backing of the Yemeni and Bahraini despotic regimes, despite brutal violations of human rights, arbitrary killings of peaceful protesters, and imprisonment of reform leaders, simply because the regimes there have proven to be able — at least temporarily — to hold back the revolts by brute force. Once the regimes start to crumble, so will US public support for them, no doubt. Realpolitik wins, at the end, while principles and a true commitment to human rights and international law — the latter being completely missing from the entire Obama speech — take a back seat, as always.

And now the US administration is offering Tunisians and Egyptians petty “debt-relief” bribes after having colluded with the tyrannical regimes there in the pillage of their respective nations’ wealth and the investment of these sums in the US and Western Europe, for the most part. Mr. Obama must think that Arabs have a very shallow memory or are somewhat slow. The sooner he realizes that he is wrong on both accounts, the more likely his administration will be able to absorb the true historic meanings and transformative repercussions of the Arab Spring and, consequently, the more just, fair, consistent and relevant US foreign policy can become.

In his policy speech on Thursday, Obama’s mere mention of the 1967 borders as a territorial basis for “negotiations” triggered a “synthetic” outrage by the Israeli government. Obama’s caveat that followed, “with agreed land swaps,” was intentionally ignored by Israeli officials’ and lobbyists’ irate attacks on Obama. As a result, Obama bent over backward in his speech before AIPAC to explain that what he really meant was that the 1967 borders will not stay the same as they must accommodate Israel’s colonies built on occupied Palestinian land over the last 44 years of occupation. By bluntly putting Israel’s interests ahead of everything else, including long established US interests in ensuring “stability” and winning hearts and minds in the region, Mr. Obama’s two speeches made those US interests even more remote. The fact that Obama’s strongest argument for ending the Israeli occupation is that it serves Israel’s interest of securing a Jewish state and circumvents the fast growing international isolation further confirms where his allegiances lie.

Judging by myriad opinion columns and media interviews on main Arab TV channels President Obama’s original policy speech largely failed to impress the Arab publics, including Palestinians, for several reasons; I shall focus on the most blatant.

First, very few Arabs today actually trust the Obama administration, particularly after its demeaning U-turn on the US demand for Israel to freeze its colonial settlements illegally built on occupied Palestinian and Syrian territory. The utter failure of the US administration to compel Israel to stop construction of those colonies — which constitute war crimes according to international law — has cost the US a severe hemorrhage of credibility in the eyes of the Arab world. If Israel will not listen to its main benefactor over such a relatively small matter, can anyone expect the US to pressure Israel to recognize the more substantial inalienable rights of the Palestinian people?

Second, the fanatic-right Israeli government with Netanyahu at its helm has, through its well endowed lobby groups, shown beyond doubt that it commands far more influence over the US Congress than Obama and his administration when it comes to setting Mideast policy. Not only was the US forced to accept the humiliation of being seen by the world as obsequiously complying with Israeli diktats by reversing long standing US policy condemning Israel’s settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace; it had to cast a veto a resolution at the UN, supported by an overwhelming majority of the world community, that reiterated this US policy staple.

Netanyahu’s latest public rebuff of Obama at their meeting on Friday did not help ameliorate the damage either. As a result, no matter what Mr. Obama says now, very few will take it seriously, knowing that Israel’s far-right government will ultimately have the upper hand in setting US policy in this part of the world.

Third, Mr. Obama’s double standard has reached a new record, as he threw around lofty terms such as “self determination,” “inclusive democracy,” “the inalienable right to freedom,” but he largely excluded the Palestinian people from the set of nations entitled to these inherent rights. He spoke of the “self-evident truth that all men are created equal,” but ignored Israel’s system of racial discrimination that the US Department of State has itself consistently condemned as constituting “institutional, legal, and societal” discrimination against the indigenous Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. In fact, this legalized discrimination fits the UN definition of apartheid.
Furthermore, while Obama spoke about his government’s support for non-violent struggle for freedom and equal rights, he again excluded Palestinian peaceful resistance against the Israeli occupation and apartheid. Non-violence is exactly what most Palestinians have been engaged in over many years, whether in the civil society-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, the mass peaceful protests against the wall and colonies, or the most recent Nakba commemoration peaceful marches that succeeded in crossing the border into the occupied Golan Heights, setting a historic precedent that is pregnant with far reaching potential.

What added insult to injury in the speech was Obama’s insistence on recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state,” which he emphasized further by calling it a “state of the Jewish people,” thus endorsing Israel’s extraterritorial definition of nationality, a clear violation of international law that fundamentally denies the non-Jewish citizens of Israel, the indigenous Palestinians, equal rights simply because of their identity. Imagine if the US President were to describe the US as a Christian nation, or a nation of Christians around the world. Why should Israel be treated as above the law of nations and allowed to maintain an ethnocentric, exclusionary regime that automatically reduces its “non-Jewish” citizens to second-class citizenship with circumscribed rights due to their ethnic or religious identity? How can any state be allowed to define itself as a state of some of its citizens, and many others who are not, but not of all its citizens? Whatever happened to Mr. Obama’s supposed commitment to equality and “inclusive democracy”?

 

By the same logic, international law does not condone an exclusionary, racist Islamic, Christian, Hindu or any other state that institutionalizes racial discrimination and apartheid against part of citizenry, based on their ethnic, religious or any other identity attribute.

Charting a path to a just, comprehensive, and sustainable peace in the Middle East requires that all parties abide by international law and universal human rights. So long as the US administration carries on with its massive, multi-billion dollar annual subsidy for Israel’s intransigence and to protect from international censure and sanctions Israel’s multi-tiered system of colonial oppression against the Palestinians, no glamorous oratory from Mr. Obama stands a chance to slow down the US’s descent into irrelevance in the ongoing reshaping of the modern history of this strategic region.