July 10, 2010
On July 6, Bibi and Obama met privately for 79 minutes, Atlanta Journal Constitution writer Jay Bookman calling it "empty theatre, actors going through the motions of pretending to pretend, (when, in fact, there's) no willingness or political ability within Israel to withdraw from settlements (or) create a viable Palestinian state, (nor is there) stomach in Washington" to endorse an equitable agreement. "I can't recall a time when I have been more cynical about peace prospects there, and the prettily staged theatrics in Washington" only harden that view.
Not for New York Times writers Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Mark Lander headlining, "US and Israel Shift Attention to Peace Process," saying:
They "articulated a timetable for peace negotiations (reflecting) a palpable shift in the administration's approach to a relationship that has been rife with tension" since Obama took office. In fact, for decades, Israeli-Washington relations have been rock-solid, including under Obama and the current Congress, the powerful Israeli Lobby assuring it stays that way.
Haaretz writers Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya were also upbeat, headlining "Obama-Netanyahu summit focuses on warm relations, avoids settlements," saying:
They "radiate(d) a sense of friendship and the absence of any crisis in relations between the two leaders," Obama calling "the bond between (the two nations) unbreakable," Bibi "emerg(ing) from the White House meeting in high spirits."
His sources said no pressure was exerted on settlement issues, both sides avoiding the topic, focusing instead on handshakes, photo-ops, and post-meeting comments - customary disingenuous boilerplate, Obama calling Netanyahu a "man of peace," Bibi saying the president is "a great leader (and) a great friend of Israel...."
In contrast, hundreds of protestors demonstrated outside the White House, including members of CodePink, Neturei Kartam - NK (anti-Zionist orthodox Jews), Sabeel (a Jerusalem-based "ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians"), Atra Kadisha (an organization for safeguarding Jewish graves), and the Central Rabbinical Congress of the US and Canada (CRC), a consortium of anti-Zionist groups founded by the Satmar Hassidic ultra-orthodox community, including holocaust survivors and their descendants.
They displayed a banner for Obama to stop Israeli aid and end the Gaza siege, NK Rabbi Yisroel Dovis Weiss calling Netanyahu "a thief and criminal (who) doesn't represent the Jews. We pray for peace and the end of the Zionist State. Our message today is not for Netanyahu. It's for (Obama) not (to) meet with a thief who stole the Jewish star and (committed) crimes (in) the name of the Jews."
Others called Israel an "infidel regime," shouting "No more nickels, no more dimes, no more funding Israel's crimes" - end the Gaza siege and expel Israel's ambassador.
More demonstrations were held outside the Israeli Embassy, waving Palestinians flags and chanting "End the siege in Gaza now....Stop Israeli piracy," traditionally dressed orthodox Jews carrying signs reading "Judaism condemns Zionist atrocities in Gaza."
After the Obama meeting, Bibi went to New York for a curtain call, AFP headlining "Fueled by White House success, Netanyahu heads to UN (for discussions with) UN chief Ban Ki-moon, saying he could perform miracles to hammer out a peace deal if all sides come together."
"We want President Abbas to grasp my hand, get into a room, shake it, sit down and negotiate a final settlement of peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he told ABC News, omitting what he demands, a one-sided deal like all others - namely, capitulation, not compromise; occupation and belligerence, not conciliation, and conflict, not resolution - why Adalah-NY announced the following:
"Hey Hey New York: Netanyahu's Coming to Town. We Say No! Let's tell War Criminal and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: You are NOT welcome in our city!"
"Netanyahu is coming to New York to justify continued colonization and slaughter. The media will be there to relay his 'facts' to the world. Let's make sure they hear the real story."
Hundreds turned out, saying:
"No to the Israeli Occupation!
No to the blockade and siege of Gaza!
No to US tax dollars funding Israeli war crimes!
Yes to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions!
YES TO JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE!
We are on a roll, people. The world is confronting Israeli war criminals. Let's not permit this one to visit NYC with no resistance!"
Endorsed by Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, American Jews for a Just Peace, Jews Say No, and the WESTPAC Foundation, a Westchester County peace and justice group.
Glorifying a War Criminal
Throughout his visit, Netanyahu was feted like a visionary, not a war criminal head of state, perhaps why Haaretz writer Zeev Sternhell called Israel "A Society falling apart" in his July 9 article, saying:
"Among the regimes in the Western world, Israel stands out with certain characteristics that generally do not indicate a strong democratic system," citing a "nonexistent" opposition, "contempt for the law....unrest caused by the ultra-Orthodox (and) settlers," and the "respectable right (choosing) leaders of the most dangerous kind....Against this backdrop, Israel's moral crisis is getting deeper all the time," especially under Netanyahu, a man contemptuous of moral values, ethical standards, democratic freedoms, and human rights, notably for non-Jews.
A man also responsible for the cold-blooded murder of humanitarian activists bringing aid to besieged Gazans, and for daily institutionalized violence, a snapshot below from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights July 1 - 6 report, citing:
-- Israeli forces attacking peaceful West Bank and Gazan protestors, injuring seven civilians (including two children and a journalist), and arresting two others;
-- firing at Palestinian farmers and workers in Gaza's border areas and fishermen at sea, injuring two children;
-- conducting 21 West Bank incursions, arresting 23 Palestinian civilians, including seven children;
-- continuing the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, forcing a Palestinian family to demolish its home and leave;
-- destroying 13 North Valley tents and an inhabited hut to remove Palestinians;
-- continuing settlement construction, and letting settlers attack Palestinians with impunity; and
-- enforcing Gaza's siege, so-called easing bogus on its face.
On July 8, the International Middle East Media Center headlined, "Israeli Army Conducts Limited Invasion In Southern Gaza," saying:
At dawn, near the Kerem Shalom (Karem Abu Salem) Crossing (east of Rafah), a "number of Israeli armored military vehicles" invaded Gaza, opening fire at civilian homes, causing damage but no injuries.
"Local sources reported that three military vehicles and two armored bulldozers advanced 200 meters into Palestinian farmlands close to the border." They "uprooted farmlands and leveled some structures, while the army opened fire in different directions."
Almost daily, "Israel (conducts) invasions and attacks into northern and eastern areas of the Gaza Strip, and prevents the farmers from reaching their lands close to the border."
In late June, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Affairs Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called for stripping Israeli Arabs of their citizenship and expelling them - his blueprint for peace, saying they're a fifth column, "actively assist(ing) those who want to destroy the Jewish state."
During the 2009 elections, his extremist Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party endorsed the notion of "No loyalty, no citizenship," proposing various loyalty laws, and saying peace depends on "an exchange of populated territories to create two largely homogeneous (ethnically pure) states, one Jewish Israeli and the other Arab Palestinian," accomplished by ethnic cleansing, what ideologues like Lieberman and his followers love, no matter how in violation of international law.
They also endorse confrontations like in Beit Jala (near Bethlehem) on June 20, when Israeli forces burned fields, and attacked peaceful demonstrators, bystanders and six journalists - Yousef Shahin (Palmedia), Abdel Hafith Hashlamon (European News Agency), Nasser Al Shayukhi (AP), Musa Al Shaer (AFP), and Najeh Hashlamon (ABA).
Two Palestinian youths, Mohammed Masalma and Thaer Mahmoud, were severely beaten. Gas canisters set fire to dry fields, engulfing an olive grove. Homes were indiscriminately shot at. No injuries were reported.
Incursions like this happen regularly, with no provocation, including against peaceful demonstrators and bystanders. So do air attacks, targeted assassinations, home demolitions, land seizures, mass arrests and torture, including against children - official Israeli policy, hard line under Netanyahu, his government perhaps Israel's most extremist ever, his peace notion based on capitulation, ethnic cleansing, military occupation, permanent conflict, and slow-motion genocide for Gazans - what Palestinians won't ever accept nor should people anywhere tolerate.
A Final Comment
In America, credible reporting on Israel/Palestine is verboten, a cause for dismissal, censure, and blacklisting - a testimony to the power of the Israeli Lobby and neocon right, as virulent now as under Bush.
Iconic Helen Thomas a recent casualty: age 89, author of five books, a copy girl after college, UPI in 1943 writing radio news, a correspondent for 60 years, the National Press Club's first female officer, the media Gridiron Club's first female member, recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, the long-time White House press corps doyenne, covering every US president since Dwight Eisenhower - ostracized by friends and colleagues, pilloried by the pro-Israeli chorus, and fired for saying Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine (and) go home," expressing frustration and anger about 62 years of persecution, 43 under military occupation, horrific enough to enrage anyone for justice.
CNN's senior Middle East affairs editor, Octavia Nasr, is the latest target, for twittering the following comment:
"Sad to hear of the passing of (Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah) Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah...One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot."
So did his followers, Reuters reporting hundreds thousands ("a sea of men and women from across Lebanon") turned out to mourn his death, a man "who became one of Shi'ite Islam's highest authorities." Buried on July 6, he died Sunday, July 4 at age 74.
After her firing, Nasr elaborated, saying she used the words "respect (and) sad because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on women's rights. He called for the abolition of the tribal system of 'honor killing.' He called the practice primitive and non-productive. He warned Muslim men that abuse of women was against Islam."
He also wrote many books, founded Islamic religious schools, including the Al Mabarrat Association (providing academic and vocational education for orphans, the deaf and blind), lectured often, was a respected scholar, established a public library, a women's cultural center, and a medical clinic.
Yet he was vilified as a terrorist for being Hezbollah's "spiritual mentor," Nasr fired for showing respect - a shameless act by a network known for suppressing truths, endorsing imperial wars, and backing corporate interests, right wing extremism, sham elections, the worst of Israeli crimes, and intolerance of opposing views, as true throughout the major media - corrupted, reprehensible, unscrupulous, worthless, and devoid of real journalism, those daring any fired for doing their job, why Project Censored warns of a "truth emergency inside the military industrial media empire," a graver threat today than ever.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.