Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, released a statement this week via Likud, his political party, making official what has been implied many times over: that he rejects the idea of two, self-determining states as the path toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The statement made clear that Netanyahu now disavows a speech he delivered at Bar Ilan University in 2009 as “no longer relevant.” The speech’s topic? The path towards creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel. To hammer home Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian statehood, the statement threw in the following, just in case its intention wasn’t clear:
“Netanyahu’s entire political biography is a fight against the creation of a Palestinian state.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
by: Frida Berrigan on March 11th, 2015 | No Comments »
Growing up as the daughter of two prominent activists, Friday Berrigan spent much of her childhood at the Pentagon. Above, the author (at about two) and Rosemary Maguire at the River Entrance to the Pentagon in 1976. Credit: Frida Berrigan.
The Pentagon loomed so large in my childhood that it could have been another member of my family. Maybe a menacing uncle who doled out put-downs and whacks to teach us lessons or a rich, dismissive great-aunt intent on propriety and good manners.
Whatever the case, our holidays were built around visits to the Pentagon’s massive grounds. That’s where we went for Easter, Christmas, even summer vacation (to commemorate the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). When we were little, my brother and sister and I would cry with terror and dread as we first glimpsed the building from the bridge across the Potomac River. To us, it pulsated with malice as if it came with an ominous, beat-driven soundtrack out of Star Wars.
I grew up in Baltimore at Jonah House, a radical Christian community of people committed to nonviolent resistance to war and nuclear culture. It was founded by my parents, Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister. They gained international renown as pacifist peace activists not afraid to damage property or face long prison terms. The Baltimore Four, the Catonsville Nine, the Plowshares Eight, the Griffiss Seven: these were anti-Vietnam War or antinuclear actions they helped plan, took part in, and often enough went to jail for. These were also creative conspiracies meant to raise large questions about our personal responsibility for, and the role of conscience in, our world. In addition, they were explorations of how to be effective and nonviolent in opposition to the war state. These actions drew plenty of media attention and crowds of supporters, but in between we always went back to the Pentagon.
by: Pratap Chatterjee on March 9th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
Hundreds of U.S. Air Force drone pilots have quit, and potential candidates are backing away from the training program altogether. Credit: Galleryhip.com.
The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.
There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as “18Xs,” working for the U.S. Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same 12 months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. (The better-known U.S. Central Intelligence Agency drone assassination program is also flown by Air Force pilots loaned out for the covert missions.)
Days after Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, claimed to be speaking for “the entire Jewish people” in his speech before Congress, tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets, rejecting such a ridiculous notion by calling for his ouster.
The explicitly anti-Netanyahu rally, which organizers say drew 80,000 people, comes just 10 days before Israel’s elections, with most polls showing Netanyahu’s Likud vulnerable to being defeated by a center-left coalition.
At the rally, former Mossad Chief, Meir Dagan, blasted Netanyahu as more dangerous than any perceived enemy and the greatest obstacle to peace:
“Israel is a country surrounded by enemies, but the enemies are not scaring us. I am afraid of our leadership.”
“Benjamin Netanyahu has served as prime minister for six years straight, six years in which he has not led a single genuine process of change to the face of the region or the creation of a better future. On his watch, Israel conducted the longest [military] campaign since the War of Independence.”
Dagan’s voice is representative of those in Israel’s security establishment who both rejected Netanyahu’s speech before Congress and his attempts to derail President Obama’s Iran diplomacy. Indeed, Netanyahu organized the speech behind the back of his own National Security Advisor, knowing it would be rejected as dangerous and damaging to U.S.-Israel relations.
This week, Netanyahu defended himself from attacks on the right by claiming to be the greatest supporter of Israel’s settlement enterprise in Israel’s history, the only claim he’s made recently which rings true. In response to this and Israel’s continued occupation, multiple speakers at the Tel Aviv rally charged Netanyahu with pushing Israel toward full apartheid, including Dagan.
It remains difficult to determine whether Netanyahu’s foreign policy push and speech before Congress, one of the most elaborate election stunts in recent history, will end up helping or hurting his election chances.
I took the opportunity of watching both of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s U.S. speeches this week – in front of over 16,000 attendees at AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) and at a joint session of the Congress – and I followed the process and developing controversy from the time Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, first announced that he had extended and the Prime Minister had accepted his invitation to present.
During both speaking venues, with all his praise at the beginning of his speeches for President Obama and his support for the state of Israel and the safety and prosperity of the Israeli people, the clear subtext was to plant distrust of the President’s negotiating abilities with Iran specifically, and to call into serious question his foreign policy initiatives more generally.
Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was brilliantly deceitful because it played to the fantasies that Israeli propaganda and right wing militarists in the United States have been popularizing for the past thirty years.
"If you take out Saddam, Saddam's regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region," said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2002, urging the US to invade Iraq. Credit: Creative Commons.
The biggest fantasy: that we can coerce others through power over them to do what we consider in the best interests of the U.S. or Israel. This is what I call “The Strategy of Domination.” A more effective path is “The Strategy of Generosity” – showing others that we care about them and recognize their needs as being equally legitimate as our own. This second approach is the view that made trade between tribes, and eventually between nations possible in the past, and it remains the view that makes it possible for most countries of the world to live in peace with their neighbors. They hate to do business with those who think that they can get their way through power trips, manipulation, and threats.
This struggle between two world views is the core of the debate today in the U.S., and the reason that the militarists have the upper hand is because the Obama administration, fearing that it might be ridiculed as believing in “kumbaya politics,” used its first six years to pursue policies that better fit the Strategy of Domination than the Strategy of Generosity. Predictably, now the administration finds itself without a popular base for turning toward a more rational path in regard to Iran, having to frame policies in terms toughness rather than in terms of their humanity and reflection of higher ethical values.
I know so many people who shake their heads in despair at the growth of the right-wing consciousness in the U.S. in every sphere except identity politics, but really what other discourse are they ever exposed to? Obama should embrace the Biblical call for “love the stranger/the other” and challenge Americans to take that call seriously. Instead, he tries to measure up against the criteria set by the militarists. Guess what? In that coercion-oriented arena, liberals and progressives will always fail because you have to be unscrupulous to win there.
Netanyahu is a master of manipulating the fantasies that the right-wing discourse advances. For example: the view of the world that sees “our side” (whether that ‘our’ be the U.S. or Israel) as always innocent and good, and “the other” as intrinsically evil.
by: Peter Van Buren on February 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
The basic formula for American war movies hasn't changed much over the past half-century. The core propaganda messages the U.S. government promoted during World War II are nearly identical to those today about the Islamic State. Credit: CreativeCommons / DVIDSHUB.
In the age of the all-volunteer military and an endless stream of war zone losses and ties, it can be hard to keep Homeland enthusiasm up for perpetual war. After all, you don’t get a 9/11 every year to refresh those images of the barbarians at the airport departure gates. In the meantime, Americans are clearly finding it difficult to remain emotionally roiled up about our confusing wars in Syria and Iraq, the sputtering one in Afghanistan, and various raids, drone attacks, and minor conflicts elsewhere.
Fortunately, we have just the ticket, one that has been punched again and again for close to a century: Hollywood war movies (to which the Pentagon is always eager to lend a helping hand). American Sniper, which started out with the celebratory tagline “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history” and now has the tagline “the most successful war movie of all time,” is just the latest in a long line of films that have kept Americans on their war game. Think of them as war porn, meant to leave us perpetually hyped up. Now, grab some popcorn and settle back to enjoy the show.
by: Ben Kline on February 26th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
About a year ago, I watched the 2008 Palestinian film Salt of this Sea, about a Palestinian-American woman named Soraya and her quest to reclaim her family’s home in Jaffa. The film has quite a few agonizing moments: in one scene, Soraya and her Ramallah-born boyfriend Emad are squatting in what remains of his ancestral village, well west of the Green Line. The illusion that they might build a new life atop these ruins is interrupted by a stern Israeli tour guide, who becomes much friendlier when a panicked Soraya lies and tells him she is Jewish.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming to the US March 3rd to speak to a joint session of the US Congress to popularize the idea that the U.S. should essentially make impossible Obama’s efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, hence putting the U.S. and Israel on path toward war with Iran.
We are taking a full-page ad in the NY Times, if we get enough people to donate to make it happen. We need YOU to sign the ad at tikkun.org/PeaceProject and to donate generously. Here are some guidelines to consider: People of means might consider donating between $1,000 to $5,000. People with incomes above $60,000/yr might $400 to $300 (and anyone giving $300 or more will have their name appear on the ad itself, though the ad will also have a link to all the people who sign the ad). Any amount you give will help us reach the amount we need to make this statement possible. We hate giving this money to the Times, but they won’t print our op-eds and the national media is already filled with ads from the militarists supporting the Netanyahu position. Another voice needs to be heard–and we at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives are making this happen.
This is not an ad for Jews only–it is already being signed by leading figures in the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and HIndu worlds as well as by secular humanists and atheists of every possible ethnic, religious and national background (people from around the world are invited to sign and donate). If you want your organization listed as a co-sponsor, the minimum it can donate for that is $2,000, and any that donate $20,000 or more will get a significant chunk of space in the ad for higher visibility at the bottom of the ad.
You may often feel powerless when reading about the craziness of what the current Congress is doing, what Netanyahu is doing, and the way that Obama too often ends up compromising with the Right-wingers. HERE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO: Donate now and donate generously, stretch beyond your normal capacity, to make this ad happen. You can sign the ad and then donate at tikkun.org/PeaceProject.
by: William J. Astore on February 18th, 2015 | 3 Comments »
Crossposted from TomsDispatch.com:
It was launched immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when I was still in the military, and almost immediately became known as the Global War on Terror, or GWOT. Pentagon insiders called it “the long war,” an open-ended, perhaps unending, conflict against nations and terror networks mainly of a radical Islamist bent. It saw the revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, buried in the aftermath of defeat in Vietnam, and a reinterpretation of that disaster as well. Over the years, its chief characteristic became ever clearer: a “Groundhog Day” kind of repetition. Just when you thought it was over (Iraq, Afghanistan), just after victory (of a sort) was declared, it began again.
Inflated threats, privatization, and an embrace of the national security state have all contributed to a perpetual state of war for America. Credit: Creative Commons / The U.S. Army
Now, as we find ourselves enmeshed in Iraq War 3.0, what better way to memorialize the post-9/11 American way of war than through repetition. Back in July 2010, I wrote an article for Tom’s Dispatch on the seven reasons why America can’t stop making war. More than four years later, with the war on terror still ongoing, with the mission eternally unaccomplished, here’s a fresh take on the top seven reasons why never-ending war is the new normal in America. In this sequel, I make only one promise: no declarations of victory (and mark it on your calendars, I’m planning to be back with seven new reasons in 2019).