The Nether-World

March 28, 2007

Diplomacy, Dishmomacy

Filed under: israel, Palestine, US Politics — netherworld @ 7:51 am

It is no great secret that Condoleezza Rice isn’t exactly the most successful of diplomats – especially when it comes to trying to solve the torturous Israel/Palestine conflict. Her obvious bias towards Israel means that more often than not she returns empty-handed from her numerous jaunts to the region. Her latest escapade was no exception. The difference this time, however, is that now Condi is being rebuffed not just by the Palestinians, who she can’t seem to convince to recognise the state that is continually stealing their land, but also by the Israelis, who don’t seem to be able to accept any form of compromise.

An Israeli journalist I spoke to was dismissive as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left Jerusalem this morning.

“Diplomacy, dishmomacy,” were his actual words.

This was Ms Rice’s seventh visit to the region over the last few months.

A lot of talk, little to show for it, is the accepted wisdom amongst most Israelis and Palestinians.

Hmmm, not a very promising start is it? Worse still, Israel has refused Condi’s offer to act as a negotiator between it and the Palestinians in what The Daily Telegraph calls a humiliating snub.

Condoleezza Rice received a humiliating snub from Israel yesterday when it refused her offer to act as negotiator between its government and the Palestinian authorities.

The US secretary of state, who was attempting to start final status talks on the creation of a Palestinian state during a visit to Jerusalem, was forced to postpone a press conference planned on Monday evening after tense talks with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister.

Well if Israel won’t trust its best friend to conduct negotiations, it does beg the question: who will it trust? One thing Condoleezza did manage to take away from her visit is a commitment for Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert to meet once a fortnight to discuss security issues which may later lead to discussions about the formation of a Palestinian state. A positive development no doubt, but slim pickings for America which desperately needs a success story in the region to detract attention from its appalling failure in Iraq and to get support for its attack on Iran.

Needless to say, Arab leaders were less than impressed with Condoleezza’s appeal to them to ‘reach out to Israel‘. The idea here is that all the Arab countries recognise Israel and normalise relations with it without Israel being compelled to make any reciprocal moves. If she thought that was going to work then she really must be very naive to assume that Arabs would be so gullible as to fall for that trick. After all, Israel won’t even recognise the new unity government in Palestine. America on the other hand, seems at last to be realising that the unity government is at least a promising compromise and, though it won’t deal directly with it, is offering some support (to Abbas anyway). Perhaps this is the cause of the tension between Condi and Olmert.

All this diplomacy comes, of course, on the eve of an important summit among Arab leaders in Riyadh. The focus of this summit is to revive the peace plan proposed by the Saudis in 2002 in which all the 22 countries in the Arab League would recognise Israel and normalise relations with it in return for Israel withdrawing back to the borders it had prior to the 1967 war. This would make it possible for the formation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. When this plan was first proposed, it was immediately rejected by the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The timing of the original proposal was unfortunate as the Palestinian second intifada was raging and suicide bombings were taking place in Israel. Also this was only a year after 9/11 and at the height of the build up to the Iraq war (Saddam Hussein was one of the Arab League members prepared to recognise Israel). Relations between Saudi Arabia and America had soured somewhat and the plan was seen as an attempt to improve things.

“I wanted to find a way to make clear to the Israeli people that the Arabs don’t reject or despise them,” Abdullah said at the time. “But the Arab people do reject what their leadership is now doing to the Palestinians, which is inhumane and oppressive. And I thought of this as a possible signal to the Israeli people.”

The political climate in the region now is just as tense (if not more so) but the dynamics are different. Iran is seen as the big threat now and powerful Sunni states like Saudi Arabia don’t wish to see Shia Iranian influence spread into Palestine. Israel and Saudi Arabia share this fear of Iran as does the USA, of course. It was Saudi Arabia which managed to broker the deal between Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government. Perhaps this is a good time to revive this five year-old peace plan. The big question of course is what will Israel’s reaction to it be? So far, Ehud Olmert’s response hasn’t been the outright rejection of his predecessor. He has said there are “positive elements” in it worth pursuing. But this is hardly the ringing endorsement needed to carry the plan forward. This is the sort of language we frequently hear from Ehud Olmert. Israel has reservations about withdrawing from all the illegally captured territory which would obviously mean dismantling the illegal settlements (even Shimon Peres, Israel’s deputy prime minister has said that the presence of Jewish settlers inside the West Bank city of Hebron has created an “unbearable situation“). It also objects to Arab East Jerusalem being part of a Palestinian state and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. In other words, the only part of the plan it likes is the recognition of Israel by the Arab states and normalisation of relations. But the problem isn’t going away and appeasing Israel’s territorial desires hasn’t eased the situation at all.

In the absence of any other workable plan, this one might be a reasonable starting point. Saudi Arabia’s Prince Saud al-Faisal has made it quite clear that this is the only way for Israel to have peace with its neighbours.

“What we have the power to do in the Arab world, we think we have done,” he said. “So now it is up to the other side because if you want peace, it is not enough for one side only to want it. Both sides must want it equally.”


“If Israel refuses, that means it doesn’t want peace and it places everything back into the hands of fate. They will be putting their future not in the hands of the peacemakers but in the hands of the lords of war,” he said.


“Other Arab countries have recognised Israel and what has that achieved?

“The largest Arab country, Egypt, recognised Israel and what was the result? Not one iota of change happened in the attitude of Israel towards peace.”

Well, quite! Getting Israel to accept this plan will be hard and we can expect that it will do everything it can to avoid making any concessions. In that respect, it is unlikely that the summit will produce anything tangible. But hopefully more people are realising that endlessly appeasing Israel hasn’t worked and still isn’t working and maybe it might be time to try something new – actually applying pressure to Israel. That can be done quite easily by cutting the the huge aid packages it gets from the USA (something that seems unlikely at the moment considering the power of AIPAC). There should be more than the one lone voice in the Knesset calling for a boycott of Israel. And with news that Israel is supplying tear gas to Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe and after by the way British diplomatic staff have been treated by the regime, that position might gain some support, after all Palestinians have to put up with far worse. Olmert’s position isn’t that strong.

Olmert currently commands what may be the lowest approval rating for any democratic leader in world history: a measly 2%. Mired in corruption scandals and about to face the verdict of a commission of inquiry into the debacle of last summer’s war in Lebanon, Olmert finds his premiership stalled and in a ditch. “He needs an initiative and this could be it,” says one Israeli government official of the Saudi plan.

The former head of Israeli military intelligence, Shlomo Gazit, wrote an open letter to the Saudi regime in which he suggested bypassing Olmert and appealing over his head to the Israeli people directly.

Follow the path taken by Anwar Sadat of Egypt 30 years ago, Gazit urged: come to Jerusalem and call for immediate negotiations. Public opinion will rally and “no government in Israel will be able to reject that kind of initiative,” he wrote.

As Jonathan Freedland says in the article, calling Israel’s bluff over its stated desire for peace might just be a good idea.

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February 8, 2007

Melanie Phillips And Her Vitriol Against Independent Jewish Voices

Filed under: Iran, israel, Lebanon, Media, Palestine — netherworld @ 5:23 pm

When I heard the news that a group of Jews had got together to speak out against Israeli aggression and to disassociate themselves from the right-wing Zionists claiming to speak for them, I breathed a sigh of relief at this very positive development. Finally some prominent Jewish voices are speaking out loudly enough to be heard above the surrounding din of extremism. I read the articles about Independent Jewish Voices and watched the recent Newsnight programme which featured rabbi David Goldberg and the poisonous Melanie Phillips.

It wasn’t much of a debate I’m afraid. Rabbi Goldberg is far too cultured and genteel to deal with a foaming-at-the-mouth wingnut like Melanie Phillips. Too long a pause in his considered replies would be exploited by the rabid bitch. Even so Melanie was fairly restrained on TV. I don’t know what possessed me to look, but I stumbled upon her webpage and found everything she meant to say… and it really is sickening. It just had to be fisked. So at risk of bringing on another attack by GIYUS, Israel’s little army of cyber soldiers who I’ve seen off before, here goes:

*Deep Breath*

February 8, 2007

Jews for genocide

On Monday night, I debated on BBC TV’s Newsnight with Rabbi David Goldberg, one of the signatories of a group styling itself ‘Independent Jewish Voices’, an unlovely collection of congenital Israel-bashers, many of whom are unfortunately prominent in British public life and are lionised by the rest of the intelligentsia who share the same venomous prejudice.

What does it tell you Melanie, that a number of prominent Jews are prepared to finally speak out against Israeli injustices after remaining silent for so long? They were lionised by the population long before they broke their silence and their prominence in public life is due to their talents in their different professions. When it comes to “venomous prejudice”, do you ever read any of the garbage you write? This latest offering of yours for example has more “venomous prejudice” than I’ve seen in an article for a long time.

Their main beef is that the Board of Deputies of British Jews dares to defend Israel in the name of the Jewish community. It has no right to do so, it seems, because it does not speak for them. Hello? The Board of Deputies?? Are they kidding? The Board is almost entirely silent on the subject.

No Melanie, their main beef seems to be (as Tom from Blairwatch says) that Jewish opinion in the UK and US is being efficiently corralled by PR into narrow support for the Israeli extreme right and their neo-con buddies in the UK and US. They want to speak for themselves, get it?

And since when were many of these signatories part of the British Jewish community anyway? Although some do identify themselves with it, many of them maintain either the most tangential or even no connection with the community or with Judaism whatever. It embarrasses them. The only time they ever identify themselves as Jews is in order to vilify the Jewish nation state, when — grotesquely — they use their ethnic Jewish identity to armour-plate themselves against the charge of Jew-hatred by wrapping themselves in the mantle of Jewish victimisation.

So because their views don’t coincide with yours, suddenly they are not Jews, is that right? Have you explained that to any of the rabbis who have signed up to Independent Jewish Voices. You didn’t do that on Newsnight when you ‘debated’ with rabbi David Goldberg. I’m sure he would be very surprised to learn that he doesn’t identify himself as a Jew. Are you aware that there is a difference between ‘Jew‘ and ‘Zionist‘? Apparently not.

And here they are again indeed posing as Jewish martyrs. Their complaint is that the Jewish establishment is trying to silence them in their heroic attempt to tell the truth about Israel, in which cause it is they who speak with the authentic voice of Jewish conscience. This is just surreal. These signatories are never out of the media with their revolting rants against Israel. Editors fawn respectfully over their every utterance. They dominate the discussion.

I don’t think ‘martyrs‘ is quite the right word is it? Is that what they call themselves? They speak with their own consciences. The media is not a monolith, some media outlets spout the same garbage you do (although usually with less of the “venomous prejudice” which you use). If their views seem to prevail, it might just possibly mean that they are right and you are wrong. Have you thought of that? No, of course not.

On the contrary, their intention is to silence others. The Board of Deputies — made of representatives who are elected by synagogues and other communal organisations and which therefore speaks for the mainstream British Jewish community — is not even to be allowed by these goons to say anything about Israel because, on the rare occasions when it does so, it dares to defend it. The voice of the Jewish mainstream is to be silenced — because they disagree with it.

You’re putting the cart before the horse again Melanie. It is not them who are trying to silence others. The stifling of debate is done by nasty bullies like GIYUS, the on-line army of cyber soldiers sponsored by the Israeli government to shut down any debate which might expose Israel’s crimes. If you are criticising Independent Jewish Voices for getting together to put forward a counter argument, how come you make no mention at all of GIYUS who behave in a manner far more in keeping with your unsubstantiated racist rants.

The essence of the signatories’ complaint, however, is even more offensive. They object to people saying rude things about them in response to what they say about Israel. They just can’t stand the criticism — and so want to silence their critics. They think freedom of speech means they are free to speak, but others are not free to speak about what they say. They think if the defenders of Israel call them names — ‘antisemites’, ‘betrayers’, ‘self-haters’ — this is stopping them from exercising their freedom of speech; but when they themselves call the defenders of Israel names — ‘the far right’, ‘sanitisers of war crimes’ or just ‘insane’ —they are merely stating demonstrable truths.

Sorry, who is it that can’t stand criticism and tries to silence their critics? Is anyone preventing you from speaking? No, I thought not. Are you denying that critics of Israel are called ‘anti-Semites’ and if they happen to be Jewish are called ‘betrayers’ or ‘self-haters’? You imply as much in your third paragraph. You really don’t read the crap you write do you? Either that or you have the memory of a goldfish. As for the labels used against the rabid rantings from your side of the ‘debate’, ‘the far right’, ‘sanitisers of war crimes’ and ‘insane’, well they seem perfectly apt to me, particularly the latter.

Enough of their ludicrous and self-serving bleating. What they say about Israel is loathsome, and fully deserves the maximum opprobrium. On Newsnight, Goldberg trotted out the usual canard that mainstream Jews object to any criticism of Israel. Not true. What his lot serve up is not criticism. It is instead a monstrous campaign of demonisation and delegitimisation based on systematic lies, libels and distortions which presents Israel, the historic victim of almost sixty years of Arab and Muslim aggression and ethnic cleansing from the Jews’ historic homeland, as the aggressors, regional bullies and oppressors of the innocent. Thus these people not only scapegoat the Israeli victims of aggression, but sanitise their killers and thus encourage them still further in their murderous project.

Can we also have an end to your ‘self-serving bleating’ please? What is loathsome is the attempt to justify mass murder of civilians, ethnic cleansing, starvation, house demolitions, assassinations, annexation of land and theft. I notice in your ravings that you fail to address those issues other than the anodyne lie that it’s all self defence. I can see the pattern now in your diatribe; you accuse your opponents of the very crimes Israel is guilty of. Hence saying that Israel is the “historic victim of almost sixty years of Arab and Muslim aggression and ethnic cleansing from the Jews“. Before 1948 there was no Israel, and the inhabitants of that land (the Palestinians) have been, and are still being driven out by people who are for the most part from eastern Europe. Melanie, it’s you who is spouting the canard, and only the people who regularly consume your drivel would believe it.

The group’s founding declaration is: ‘Those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of the occupied people.’ But the rights of the Palestinians are being infringed for one reason only: that they are intent upon destroying Israel and murdering its citizens. Israel’s legitimate self-defence in this war of annihilation being waged against it is thus represented here entirely falsely as aggression. That of course is the trick of Palestinian propaganda, which has appropriated the history of Jewish victimisation and turned it on its head, casting the Palestinians as the new Jews and the Israelis as the Nazis — a vile inversion which has been swallowed in its entirety by the signatories to this declaration and by many others on the left.

Everyone has the right to defend themselves. If Israelis have the right to defend themselves against resistance, then the Palestinians have the right to resist occupation and indiscriminate slaughter. Both sides of this conflict are guilty of atrocities, Israeli atrocities are on a much vaster scale however. They might not be on the same scale as those of the Nazis but there certainly seems to be a strong whiff of Nazism in Israel’s behaviour. What else would you call it when one of the world’s best equipped and well trained armies uses its might against a people armed with rocks, Kalashnikovs, RPGs and primitive rockets little better than fireworks, and who are so desperate that some of them are willing to blow themselves (and civilians) up. You cannot deny that Israel is the stronger force and uses that force inappropriately contrary to international law.

On Newsnight, Goldberg stunningly dismissed the hundreds of rockets that have been fired from Gaza into Israel since Israel’s disengagement from that territory as being of no consequence. Thus this self-styled champion of human rights simply refuses even to acknowledge Jewish victimisation, while professing concern only for those who are trying to wipe the Jews out. This man is supposed to be a rabbi? This is not morality, but pathology.

Goldberg didn’t dismiss the hundreds of rockets fired fired from Gaza into Israel, he merely pointed out (or tried to) that the rockets fired pale in comparison to the thousands of shells fired into Gaza. The rockets do occasionally kill and maim. Israeli shells and missiles create a much, much higher death toll. I challenge you to deny that. It is you Melanie, who dismisses the obvious imbalance and disproportionality here. By drawing attention to this fact, rabbi Goldberg was fulfilling his duty as a religious leader and human rights activist.

What has been the Palestinian response to Israel’s disengagement from Gaza? An unending barrage of rockets on Israeli towns and the building of tunnels and import of weaponry in order to unleash even greater death and destruction upon Israel. What has been Israel’s response to Palestinian aggression? Israeli hospitals are currently treating more and more Palestinians injured in the clashes between Fatah and Hamas — people who have been trying to kill Israelis and are now being given medical care in Israeli hospitals on equal terms with Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Just who is upholding human rights here, and who is trying to extinguish them?

Israel never really left Gaza. Oh, yes the settlers were removed (and some of them relocated to the West Bank thus exacerbating that situation) but the borders were sealed with no easy way for Palestinians to travel, or trade. They have no access to the sea or air. They are in effect, imprisoned in a giant overcrowded concentration camp and subject to regular Israeli bombardment which for the IDF must be like shooting fish in a barrel. If poor defenceless Israel wasn’t maiming Palestinians, they wouldn’t need to be treated in Israeli hospitals. It should go without saying that if Palestinians had their own well equipped and properly staffed hospitals, they wouldn’t need Israeli ones either, but Israel wouldn’t allow that. That would be too much like independence wouldn’t it? No, far better to show how humane and upholding of human rights Israel is by treating the Palestinians that have been blown to pieces by Israel in Israeli hospitals.

The phenomenon of this Jewish fifth column for Arab and Muslim terror is now doing serious damage to the struggle for survival not just by Israel but by the west in general. Two writers have recently produced withering critiques of these people and the harm they are doing: Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, and Professor Alvin Rosenfeld, whose article has horrified American liberal Jews who refuse to acknowledge their own faces in Caliban’s mirror.

I find it incredible that you would accuse Jews who object to the wanton violence of Israel as a fifth column. Have you looked up the meaning of that term Melanie? Here it is:

A clandestine subversive organization working within a country to further an invading enemy’s military and political aims.

Now, does that term fit for a group of Jews concerned with Israeli atrocities? I would argue not. In fact if you drop the ‘clandestine’ the term would be fit much better to organisations like AIPAC in the USA or Labour Friends of Israel, Conservative Friends of Israel or Lib Dem Friends of Israel. The clue (seeing as you don’t have one) is “invading enemy’s military and political aims“. Who is doing the invading Melanie? And under the pretense of it being self defence… hmmm what does that remind me of?

One of the most painful aspects of all of the Jewish tragedy is that, throughout the unending history of Jewish persecution — from the medieval Christian converts to Marx and beyond —Jews have figured, for a variety of reasons, as prominent accomplices of those who wished to destroy the Jewish people. These signatories are firmly in that lamentable tradition. And since today’s principal battleground is — as the Islamists well understand but we in the west do not — the battleground of ideas, the contribution of these Israel-bashing Jewish intellectuals to the cause of those who hate Jews, the west and human rights is immense.

No one is denying that Jews have suffered terribly in the past because of European barbarism throughout the ages. It’s a series of shameful episodes in our History. But speaking of History, look at how well Jews and the Muslims you so obviously hate got on in the past. Why should Muslims have to pay for European crimes. If you need a direction to point that huge chip on your shoulder, European Christians would be a more logical target. The current problems between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East stem largely from the theft of Muslim land, aided and abetted once again by European colonial powers. The suffering of Jews in the past does not give some of them the right to commit similar crimes now.

When Daniel Pipes was recently drowned out by Islamists at the University of California-Irvine, this (via LGF) was what they were saying:

They have no future. And it’s just a matter of time before the state of Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth.[Crowd: Takbir! Allahu akbar!] Justice will be restored then. Those people who are there legitimately … the people there will, will rule. There will be no injustice any more there. So just keep on doing what we’re doing. Our weapon, our jihad, our way of struggling in this country is with our tongues. We speak out, and we deflate their morale, and this is the best we can do right now….[Crowd: Takbir! Allahu akbar!]

Fine, go ahead and quote some angry nutcases in a crowd and try to imply that this is the view of all Muslims if you must. As I said earlier, the only people you’ll convince are the idiots who devour your trashy vitriol with such gusto. Even in the passage you quote are words which defeat your ‘argument’. “Our weapon, our jihad, our way of struggling in this country is with our tongues. We speak out…” Wow, Melanie, who’s afraid of free speech now?

At a time when Iran is threatening to nuke Israel into kingdom come, the words of the prophet come to mind: your destroyers are among you.

So Iran is threatening to nuke Israel is it? Are you sure? Would you be so kind as to find me the relevant quote which shows that intention? It wouldn’t be this would it? Oh you really are gullible aren’t you Melanie? Whilst on the subject of nuking people, perhaps you would like to explain this:

A recent strike by nuclear-armed Israeli Air Force fighter-bombers bound for targets in Iran was turned back after being intercepted by U.S. fighters over Iraq, this reporter has learned.

Two sources have independently confirmed the encounter, which took place on January 7, 2007. Though the first informant offered few details beyond an initial tip, a second source long-known by this reporter to have well-placed U.S. and “non-U.S.” military and government contacts provided specific information regarding the raid, which was aimed at the radical religious ayatollahs holding ultimate power in Iran.

What’s it to be Melanie, blanket denial or a claim of “self defence”? We’ve heard plenty of Israeli denials before, followed by admissions of “mistakes”.

Having struggled though all that appalling crap I now need to lie down in a darkened room for a while.

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January 15, 2007

Another Roundup of Middle East Turmoil

Filed under: Bush, Iran, Iraq, israel, Palestine, Syria, US Politics — netherworld @ 8:24 am

Condoleezza Rice’s latest trip to the Middle East cannot be described a peace-making mission. The motives for her trip appear to be to drum up support for the destabilisation force Bush is sending to Iraq, and to poison the minds of Arab leaders even more against Iran in preparation for what is looking ever more likely to be another Middle East war. However, some Arab leaders have had the temerity to impose conditions on the USA in exchange for their support. The price is US engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And so once again Condoleezza has to pretend that she wants to see a Palestinian state and is able to win meaningful concessions from the Israelis.

“I have heard loud and clear the call for deeper American engagement,” she said after talks in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

So far she has met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan. Today she will meet Ehud Olmert and then go on to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to promote war. It won’t escape the attention of these Arab leaders that she has absolutely nothing new to offer. What she will try to gain is unconditional support for more chaos in Iraq and new Chaos in Iran and beyond by telling them that all this is in their interest.

In advance of her visit, the secretary of state said she was not bringing new proposals but would be listening, talking and looking for creative solutions.

At a press conference she had to deny that USA was too distracted by concerns about Iraq and Iran to have effect on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Palestinian people have waited a long time for their own state… and if there is anything that I can do and that the president can do to finally realise that day, why wouldn’t we want to do that?”

The answer to that of course is that the Bush administration is so pro-Israel and controlled by Zionist lobby groups like AIPAC that it cannot possibly be considered as a fair arbiter in any negotiations and is responsible along with Israel for the appalling conditions in which the Palestinians are forced to live. America has had plenty of opportunities to restrain the worst excesses of Israel and has failed to do so every time.

Still, Condi should be able to drum up enough support for Bush’s nefarious plans in the region. Iran is disliked and feared by many Arab countries, and by spreading the fear of Iranian influence over Iraq (even though it was America’s invasion that created this problem) as well as pretending that sending another 20,000 troops into the quagmire will somehow make the situation more secure for the region she’ll probably get enough support to give a veneer of legitimacy to her plans. Bush needs this support because it certainly doesn’t exist back home where even the Republicans are in open revolt over the “surge” plans.

Bush has finally been forced to acknowledge that the invasion has made Iraq more unstable, but he still maintains that despite some mistakes he did the right thing.

But pressed on the issue, and told by a Fox News interviewer that Iraq was “much more unstable now, Mr President,”, Mr Bush replied: “Well, no question, decisions have made things unstable.”

He added: “I think history is going to look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better. No question about it.” But toppling Saddam was not a mistake. “We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude and I believe most Iraqis express that.”

Yes, that’s right, he actually thinks Iraqis should be grateful for the murder and mayhem that that has engulfed their country because of the invasion. I don’t know which Iraqis he’s been talking to but 90 percent of them seem to think they were better off under Saddam Hussein.

Not content with wrecking one country, the Bush administration is now working flat out to try and wreck another. The recent incidents in Northern Iraq (authorised by Bush) where Iranian diplomats have been arrested and a consular office raided have increased tensions between the US and Iran. These diplomatic incidents look like being the first moves in an attempt to provoke a conflict. America is now threatening to “deal with” Iran and Syria over their alleged support of insurgents while Iran is demanding the release of its kidnapped diplomats. The White House is emphatically refusing to rule out an attack on Iran.

The attack could take the form of air strikes or cross-border raids, most likely it will be both. The legality of such action hasn’t been discussed; the last time the UN was mentioned vis-à-vis Iran was last month when limited sanctions were imposed. Whether or not the US Congress can prevent its commander in chief make another even more catastrophic foreign policy blunder is unknown, but we have already seen how much respect Bush has for legal processes.

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November 28, 2006

Bush and Blair’s Stable Middle East: Progress or More Despair?

Filed under: Afghanistan, Bliar, Bush, Iran, Iraq, israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria — netherworld @ 7:57 am

The news coming from the Middle East this week, as well as providing us with the usual overdose of despair, is also showing some faint glimmers of change if not exactly hope in some of the hotspots.

In Palestine the tenuous cease fire between the Israelis and the Palestinians seems to be holding… just, and we are finally hearing some more positive language coming from Olmert which may just be the beginnings of a peace initiative, although it is far too early to say for sure and everyone has seen positive developments quickly collapse into renewed violence. However the cease fire, prisoner exchange and possible talks about a viable Palestinian state are developments which are to be welcomed and encouraged. One has to wonder what initiated this change of heart. Is it a realisation that Israel cannot simply murder its way to a peaceful solution (after several months of relentless attacks, massacres, demolitions and assassinations resulting in over 400 Palestinian deaths, most of them civilian, the rocket attacks continued unabated)? Is it pressure from Washington as Bush prepares to visit the region and needs at least something that will play well with the folks back home (it certainly won’t be from Iraq)? Perhaps both sides are exhausted and need a pause in order to re arm and prepare for another cycle of violence. Possibly it is a mixture of all these things.

In Iraq of course, it is very difficult to see anything positive as the country crumbles further into anarchy. If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be amusing watching the US and British governments try to use any wording they can to describe the situation without uttering those fateful words ‘civil war‘. However, civil war is exactly what is happening, or to be more precise, civil wars may be a better term because the country is so fractured now. It’s now obvious to everyone that the Bush/Blair axis does not have the faintest clue what to do about the catastrophe it has created. Talking to Iran and Syria, previously unthinkable, is now very much on the agenda. While Bush and Blair contemplate this very obvious climb down, the Iraqi leader has gone to Iran to plead for help and has received a promise of assistance. Just what form that assistance will take and how effective it will be remains to be seen, however, it is a change and the closest thing to a positive development happening.

In Britain there has been more talk of troop withdrawals, but again the rhetoric displays the bankruptcy of ideas. It has been more or less acknowledged that troops in the region are contributing to the violence, and also acknowledged that withdrawing them is likely to increase the violence in the short term. The decision seems to be to announce a withdrawal of some (possibly most) British troops by the end of next year while admitting that some troops will be in Iraq for many years to come (probably confined to bases and under siege). Hardly a clear strategy. Of course, the remainder of the so-called coalition of the willing will be out of Iraq much sooner. America is not making any such announcement. The USA is still deliberating on whether to send even more troops into the quagmire as if that would improve matters.

Another hotspot in the news again is Lebanon which also looks close to descending into chaos again. Hizbollah’s threat to leave the government unless it was given greater representation could be a body blow to the pro Western administration. The assassination of Pierre Gemayel, Lebanon’s anti-Syrian industry minister has obviously added to the pressure on Lebanon and also Syria, which has been accused of the murder without a shred of evidence. It is interesting that the killing took place just as Syria was making positive noises about coming in from the cold and helping ease the tension in Iraq. For Syria to murder a Lebanese Cabinet Minister at this time is hardly in its best interests, so we have to ask ourselves who would benefit most from the renewed chaos in Lebanon and and more pressure on Syria as well as who is best placed to carry out such an assassination. Hopefully the tension in the Levant will be allowed to calm down in order for all parties to focus on the far more dangerous situation in Iraq.

Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon are the three civil wars (potential or already started) that Jordan’s King Abdullah warned that we could be facing next year. Not exactly the advance of freedom and hope in the greater Middle East promised by Bush and Blair when they lied their way into the Iraq war and now try to lie their way out of it. But there is also the quagmire in Afghanistan to consider. That conflict is not going well either and America and Britain are having trouble finding other NATO allies to join them in their mission. Far from rushing to join in the fun, NATO countries are looking for a way out of that mess.

While there is very little to get exited about in terms of stability in the region, there is a noticeable change in the air. America’s stranglehold on the Middle East might well be coming to an end. An attack on Iran now looks less likely as the US realises that it needs Iranian cooperation and that Iran seems to be holding the best cards and knows how to play them. Also it will be much harder to attack Iran now that the CIA has said that it has found no proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. This with the possibility of a peace initiative in Palestine and Iranian and Syrian cooperation in Iraq does give us some reason to hope, however small that hope is.

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November 15, 2006

About Time Too!

Filed under: israel, Palestine, UK Politics — netherworld @ 8:33 am

In the past year, the Government licensed the sale of £23m worth of weaponry to Israel. This is a dramatic increase (almost double) on the previous year. Britain seems to have a nice little business going in selling weapons to despotic regimes.

However, under both EU (and UK) law arms cannot be sold to countries where they might be used for internal repression, international aggression, or contribute to regional instability. See Criterion Two and Criterion 4 of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. So why are we doing it? Well, apparently we have received assurances from Israel that that arms sold to it from the UK would not be used in the occupied territories. Assurances that evidently were not worth the paper they were printed on.

Anyway, it looks as if this cosy business arrangement is about to be disrupted by a Palestinian who is taking the Government to court over the matter.

The government is being taken to court today over the sale of military equipment to Israel including parts for Apache helicopter gunships, laser range finders, and communications equipment.

Saleh Hasan, a Palestinian who lives in Bethlehem, argues that the sales are in breach of the government’s guidelines covering arms exports and are unlawful. The guidelines say exports should be blocked when there is a “clear risk” they “might be used for internal repression”.

Mr Hasan’s lawyers point to comments by Foreign Office minister Kim Howells in the Commons in August that “almost any use of equipment … could be used aggressively, especially in occupied areas”.

They point out that after British military equipment was used in the occupied territories in 2002, Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, said he would no longer take Israeli assurances into account. Mr Howells said that approach “still holds true”.

Michael Fordham QC says in his court challenge on behalf of Mr Saleh that there is also clear evidence of human rights abuses by Israeli forces.

Well, hopefully Mr Hasan will win his case. If he does win, it won’t change facts on the ground, Israel gets most of its weaponry from the USA, but at least Britain will be less complicit in the slaughter of Palestinian civilians. A small victory.

If he looses the case and the UK continues to supply Israel with high-tech weaponry to be used on the civilians of Palestine then that will make a mockery of Tony Blair’s recent rhetoric about solving the Israel/Palestine conflict.

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November 12, 2006

Ten Tips For Dealing With GIYUS

Filed under: Blogging, israel, Lebanon, Palestine — netherworld @ 5:30 am

If, like many people, you are disgusted by the behaviour of Israel and happen to blog about, say, the latest massacre in Gaza; the desperate situation the Palestinians are in; the carnage in Lebanon or the provocation of UNIFIL peacekeepers; the threat of attacking Iran or any of the other nefarious deeds that Israel is allowed to get away with, then there is a reasonable chance that you may attract the attention of GIYUS. You’ll know when that has happened when you find your post bombarded by comments (usually anonymous and looking remarkably similar) attempting to justify those actions and attacking you for daring to mention them. A quick look at your stats will confirm that you’ve been GIYUSed. If this bothers you, here are some tips which may put a stop to the attack, or at least lessen the flow of moronic comments. Of course I can’t guarantee that they will work, all I can say is that they seemed to work for me when I became their target. First of all don’t be intimidated, that’s what this little army of cyber soldiers want you to be. Instead you could try the following:

  1. Update your post straight away explaining what has happened and adding a little bit about GIYUS for those unfamiliar with this annoying pressure group. This also lets the GIYUS bots know that you’re on to them.

  2. If possible, add some links to previous posts you might have written on the issues to show that you are not going to be intimidated by their antics.

  3. Refute their ‘arguments’ in the comments. This is easy as they really don’t have any. Their comments go along the lines of “it is about time that Israel completely ignore any condemnation of our effort to stay alive and have a simple life in a and keep pounding at the Palestinians…”. Also they don’t stick around to argue, debate is the last thing they want and its what they are trying to stifle. They just do as they are directed by GIYUS.

  4. On no account say anything which they could construe as being anti-Semitic. That is exactly what they want. Not only is anti-Semitism so obviously wrong but you’ll be lowering yourself to their level. Their main objective is to ‘prove’ that anyone who disagrees with Israeli policies is a) anti-Semitic, b) a Holocaust denier, and c) an ‘Islamo-fascist’. To do this they try to blur the distinctions between ‘Zionist’, ‘Israeli’ and ‘Jewish’.

  5. Use reliable news sources to back up your points. If you can find items from Israeli sources, so much the better. Haaretz and B’TSalem are useful.

  6. Invite others to join in the fun, it makes the thread more balanced and much more interesting. It also saves you from having to repeat yourself or respond to every comment.

  7. Don’t delete their comments unless they really are particularly offensive. That just makes it look like you haven’t got an answer to them. Leave their comments up so we can all have a good laugh at them.

  8. Use humour. Believe me, these commenters have as much sense of humour as Ian Paisley on a bad day, and they don’t like having the piss taken out of them (who does?). The issues are deadly serious for both sides of the argument but the point here is to stop GIYUS bullying you into remaining silent about them.

  9. If other bloggers link to your post then even more people will see it thus rendering their efforts to silence you completely counter-productive. I’ll take this opportunity to thank the Curious Hamster, Obsolete and D-Notice for linking to my post which helped GIYUS’s attack on me backfire.

  10. GIYUS has been particularly effective in distorting or wrecking on-line polls. If you are conducting a poll about Israel and you find that GIYUS members turn up in great numbers to distort the result, my advice would be to shut it down immediately and post a message explaining why. I haven’t conducted a poll about Israel but it’s what I’d do if I found my poll being distorted by GIYUS.

When I was targeted by GIYUS I did most of the things on this list and the comments slowed down and then stopped very quickly. And it wasn’t because the GIYUS bots stopped visiting. As I write this they are still coming, they’re just not bombarding me with their silly justifications for what is by any standard criminal behaviour. Groups like this don’t like to be exposed in this way, so when a light is shined on them they tend to scuttle back to whatever dark recesses they emerged from. Mind you, having posted this I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried again.

If you have been GIYUSed and your post is genuine comment on Middle East news and not anti-Semitic or conspiracy theory garbage, feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll link to it. Freedom of speech is important and we have enough curtailment of it from our leaders, so we don’t need these idiots to bully us into silence. If all this sounds like behaving little better than GIYUS, it isn’t. I’m not advocating bombarding peoples web sites with comments or hurling abuse at anyone. This is just a defence tactic which may or may not work if you find yourself under a coordinated virtual attack from a state sponsored pressure group. No state is above criticism and when a state behaves the way Israel does it should expect to be criticised for its crimes. Unfortunately many governments, particularly the American and British governments refuse to criticise these atrocities and are complicit in them, so it’s up to us to do it.

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November 8, 2006

While The World’s Attention Was Focused on the American Elections…

Filed under: israel, Palestine, US Politics — netherworld @ 7:05 am

How very predictable of Israel. Knowing that a huge assault on the Palestinians would be likely to attract condemnation (not from the USA or the UK, of course) Israel waited until the most people became engrossed in the drama of America’s Midterm elections before launching a massive tank attack on the beleaguered citizens of Gaza and the West Bank killing 18 people.

Initial reports say the dead were civilians, with women and children among the casualties.

Israeli military sources said they were unaware of the incident.

Earlier, four Palestinian militants and a civilian were reported killed in an Israeli army operation near the West Bank town of Jenin.

The American Midterm elections were widely seen as a referendum on George Bush’s policy on Iraq and the victory speeches of the Democrats, who won control of the House of Representatives (the control of the Senate is at time of writing, too close to call), were full of references to Bush’s disastrous war. Unsurprisingly there was no mention at all of the mass murder being committed by America’s closest ally.

If, as the new speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said, the Democrats would “restore integrity and honesty” to Washington and lead the “most ethical Congress in history”, then a good place to start would be another look at America’s unqualified support for the genocidal kleptocracy allowed free reign in the Middle East.



It appears that over at The Nether-World Mark 1, this post has incurred the wrath of GIYUS and it’s little army of cyber soldiers. Well, I’m not exactly quaking in my boots. For those unfamiliar with GIYUS, read this:

Israel’s Government has thrown its weight behind efforts by supporters to counter what it believes to be negative bias and a tide of pro-Arab propaganda. The Foreign Ministry has ordered trainee diplomats to track websites and chatrooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages.

Their aim is to stifle any any commentary on the barbaric acts of the Israeli regime and also to distort on-line polls. Notice in the comments how most wish to remain anonymous, how they have nothing to say about Israel’s killing of civilians including women and children, the theft of land, the deliberate policy of starving of the Palestinians, the robbing of their banks, the theft of their tax revenues and their efforts to stop any aid getting to the malnourished Palestinians, and, of course their ethnic cleansing. They try to justify these actions by saying that they left the Gaza strip, without mentioning of course that there is no freedom for the people of Gaza, it is now the World’s largest open-air prison camp. What these GIYUS commenters most object to is the Palestinians daring to defend themselves against such brutality. Yes, they fire primitive home-made rockets, little better than fireworks that occasionally cause injury or worse. Compare this to Israel’s tank and missile attacks or the DIME weapons they test on the Palestinians. And yet Ehud Olmert refers to the IDF as “the most moral military in the world“.

So there you go GIYUS people, there are some more posts for you to get upset about.

Ten Tips For Dealing With GIYUS 

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October 13, 2006

Israel’s new weapon tested on the Palestinians

Filed under: israel, Palestine — netherworld @ 12:26 pm

Israel appears to have an experimental new weapon which is being used on the beleagured Palestinians. It is called a DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive) and is thought to be similar to something the US military have been developing. So far the weapon is said by doctors to have caused 200 deaths and 62 amputations and severe burns in June and July.

The same team of Italian journalists who uncovered America’s use of white phosphorous on Iraqis in Falluja have also been investigating Israeli weapons. The weapon is supposed to cause a powerful blast within a small radius.

Israel Air Force Maj.-Gen (res.) Yitzhak Ben-Israel, formerly head of the IDF’s weapons-development program, told the Italian reporters that “one of the ideas [behind the weapon] is to allow those targeted to be hit without causing damage to bystanders or other persons.”

Doctors in Gaza reported inexplicably serious injuries which prompted the investigation. They found that the bodies of the dead and wounded had small entry wounds. Juma Saqa of Shifa hospital said that the victims had a powder on their bodies and internal organs.

“The powder was like microscopic shrapnel, and these are what likely caused the injuries,” he said.

Habas al-Wahid, head of the emergency room at the Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital, told reporters that the legs of the injured were sliced from their bodies “as if a saw was used to cut through the bone”.

The Dime is said to be made of a carbon-fibre casing and filled with tungsten powder and explosives. It is likely to be carcinogenic.

According to the website, the weapon was successfully tested during 2004 and 2005 but is being further developed.

Samples of the particles found in wounds of the injured Gazans were sent for analysis to a laboratory at the University of Parma, in Italy where high concentrations of carbon and unusual materials, such as copper, aluminum and tungsten were found. The weapon is also likely to be carcinogenic.

Physicians for Human Rights has asked Israel’s defence Minister, Amir Peretz for an explanation to these injuries. They shouldn’t hold their breath for an explanation. The usual lies will be trotted out, and when they are exposed then claims that they are justified in using the Palestinians for weapons tests. The international community will just say that ‘Israel has the right to defend itself’ and give the Israelis something even more nasty.

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October 4, 2006

More Hypocrisy from Condoleezza Rice

Filed under: israel, Palestine, US Politics — netherworld @ 5:27 am

Condoleezza Rice is returning to the Middle East to call for end to the Palestinian violence caused by her policy of cutting off aid to the PA. Because of the desperate situation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza, different factions are fighting amongst themselves.

Ten Palestinians have been killed and more than 100 wounded since clashes between the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas began on Sunday in Gaza.

“Innocent Palestinians are caught in this violence,” Ms Rice said.

She did not directly blame Hamas, but she said the Hamas government was unable to deliver for the Palestinian people – and could not represent a responsible government to the international community.

To implement a policy of starvation and to allow repeated attacks by Israel and then to casually observe that the government is unable to deliver to the Palestinians is yet another breathtaking act of hypocrisy from the US Secretary of State. She is returning to a intolerable situation that she is partly responsible for causing. Her mission to the Middle East will achieve nothing as she has nothing to offer the Arabs except for more of the same misery. She failed in her objectives in Lebanon and managed to earn the hostility of the Lebanese Prime Minister, one of the very moderates she is supposed to be engaging with.

During the conflict in Lebanon, Israel used the confusion as a cover to further expand illegal settlements in the West Bank. And while the world’s attention was focussed on Lebanon Israel was able to slaughter the Palestinians without very much in the way of media coverage let alone international condemnation. So just what does Condoleezza expect to achieve in her mission?

Speaking in Jeddah, Ms Rice urged a halt to fighting between Hamas and Fatah factions in Gaza. But she made plain there would be no let-up in the US-directed boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority which is stoking those tensions. And while paying lip service to a two-state solution, she did not diverge one inch from the administration’s line that countering extremism in Iran and Iraq, and among al-Qaida and like-minded jihadists, was Washington’s top priority.

In other words this is more of an attempt to bolster support for Israel and to make the USA look like it is trying to do something positive in the Middle East before the November mid-term elections while in reality doing nothing of the sort. The very chaos Condoleezza Rice is speaking out against is exactly the chaos that her close ally Israel wants in order to prevent the possibility of a Palestinian state being created.

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September 21, 2006

Israel makes a withdrawal from the West Bank

Filed under: israel, Palestine — netherworld @ 1:36 pm

However, it’s not the kind of withdrawal that the Palestinians were hoping for. Rather than leave illegally occupied territory, the IDF (the most moral army in the world) has taken to robbing banks… again.

Israeli troops have raided a bank and the offices of money-changers in West Bank towns, confiscating funds they say were intended to fund militants.

The army said it seized almost $1.5m (£0.8m) in raids on premises in Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm and Ramallah.

The money had mostly come from Syria and Iran and was intended for Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, the army said.

Palestinian sources have said that millions of dollars, documents and files were “stolen” in the raids. At least eight currency exchange offices and a small bank were destroyed, the Israeli army said.

Not content with withholding Palestinian tax revenue and persuading America and Europe to cut aid to the desperate PA in order to starve the Palestinians into recognising the kleptocracy which has stolen their land, Israel has stooped to helping itself to the meagre funds remaining. This is not the first time that Israel has resorted to robbing Palestinian banks using the excuse that what little money the Palestinians have is obviously for the use of terrorism. In 1994 the IDF raided four banks stealing millions of dollars in cash.

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