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Israeli bankruptcy

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We Can’t Go Home Again




Published: October 7, 2006

Ramallah, West Bank


THIRTEEN years ago, I left a comfortable life in the United States for an uncertain future in the West Bank. Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization had just signed the Oslo Accords. Like many others, I saw an opportunity for Palestinians to finally build a society and economy that would lead to freedom — to a thriving Palestine alongside Israel.


As a Palestinian-American businessman, I was determined to do my part. So I moved to the West Bank city of El Bireh, where my family has lived for centuries. There I helped create a $100 million telecommunications company, which today employs more than 2,000 Palestinians. I earned an M.B.A. through Tel Aviv University. Then I developed a $10 million shopping center — the first of its kind in the Palestinian territories, employing more than 220 Palestinians. I married and had two beautiful daughters.


Now the Israeli authorities have decided that my life here has come to an end.


Even after the Oslo Accords were signed and the Palestinian Authority established, Israel retained control of all borders and of the Palestinian Population Registry. Nothing or no one gets into or out of the West Bank and Gaza without Israeli permission. For a dozen years I have waited for Israel to approve my application for Palestinian residency.


American Jews, indeed Jews from anywhere in the world, can come to Israel and be granted automatic citizenship. Thousands of American Jews freely enter and exit Israel to live in illegal Israeli settlements in the middle of the West Bank. But Palestinians whose families have lived here continually for centuries do not enjoy the same right. I need a residency card from Israel to live with my Palestinian family in my grandfather’s home in the Palestinian West Bank.


For 13 years, I’ve lived here by renewing my tourist visa every three months. Last month, an Israeli soldier stamped my American passport with a one-month visa and wrote “last permit” on it in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Now I am faced with a terrible choice. I can leave, uprooting my family and abandoning the businesses I’ve worked hard to build. I can leave alone and be separated from my wife and daughters. Or I can remain here “illegally,” risking deportation at any time.


My situation is not unique. Thousands of Palestinians are in a similar limbo. Most have less desirable options than mine. My children are American citizens. We can return to the United States. But I came here with a vision, and I remain determined to play a role in developing an economy, nonviolently ending Israel’s military occupation and building a Palestinian state.


Israeli policies effectively discourage people like me. According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, it has been official Israeli policy since 1983 to “reduce, as much as possible, the approval of requests for family unification” of Palestinians. B’Tselem reports that in the last six years alone, more than 70,000 people have applied for permission to immigrate to the West Bank and Gaza to join family. Their applications have either been denied or, like mine, languish.


Each Palestinian who leaves lessens what Israelis openly call the “demographic threat” of a growing Palestinian population. But Israel needs to understand that the real threat comes not from demographics. It comes from controlling an entire population, breaking families apart and placing obstacles in the path of economic development.


Israelis and Palestinians are destined to be neighbors. One neighbor cannot ensure its security by condemning the other to hardship and despair. Many people like me — business owners, educators, artists and others — whom Israel is denying entry came to build bridges, not walls. We came to invest in a better life to follow this occupation — a bright, joint future for Palestinian and Israeli children alike.


Sam Bahour is a co-editor of “Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians.”

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  • 4 weeks later...
U.S. Faults Syria, Iran, Hezbollah on Lebanon


By Colum Lynch

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, November 2, 2006; Page A13


UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 1 -- The White House on Wednesday accused Lebanon's Hezbollah militia and its Iranian and Syrian backers of seeking to topple the U.S.-backed government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.


Shouldn't be more accurate to accuse Isreali generals for this?

Today the Saniora and 14 march front are at their weakest situation. No thing but to pay the foolish barbaric mass killing by Israeli leadership mentality bankruptcy ..

In his defiant reply to Nasralh's demand for unified conciliation governemnt , Saniora had nothing but to say that he is not an Isreali collaborator..

I don't blame him, the Israerlis acts had helped his rival to the most that even Iran or Syria can do..

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  • 6 months later...

Hersh: Bush administration arranged support for militants attacking Lebanon

David Edwards and Muriel Kane, Raw Story




May 22, 2007


In an interview on CNN International's Your World Today, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh explains that the current violence in Lebanon is the result of an attempt by the Lebanese government to crack down on a militant Sunni group, Fatah al-Islam, that it formerly supported.


Last March, Hersh reported that American policy in the Middle East had shifted to opposing Iran, Syria, and their Shia allies at any cost, even if it meant backing hardline Sunni jihadists.


A key element of this policy shift was an agreement among Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security adviser, whereby the Saudis would covertly fund the Sunni Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon as a counterweight to the Shia Hezbollah.


Hersh points out that the current situation is much like that during the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980's – which gave rise to al Qaeda – with the same people involved in both the US and Saudi Arabia and the "same pattern" of the US using jihadists that the Saudis assure us they can control.


When asked why the administration would be acting in a way that appears to run counter to US interests, Hersh says that, since the Israelis lost to them last summer, "the fear of Hezbollah in Washington, particularly in the White House, is acute."


As a result, Hersh implies, the Bush administration is no longer acting rationally in its policy. "We're in the business of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia. ... "We're in the business of creating ... sectarian violence." And he describes the scheme of funding Fatah al-Islam as "a covert program we joined in with the Saudis as part of a bigger, broader program of doing everything we could to stop the spread of the Shia world, and it just simply -- it bit us in the rear."












HALA GORANI: Well, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported back in March that in order to defeate Hezbollah, the Lebanese government supported a Sunni militant group, the same ones they're fighting today. Seymour joins us live from Washington. Thanks for being with us. What is the source of the financing according to your reporting on these groups, such as Fatah al-Islam in these camps of Nahr el Bared, for instance? Where are they getting the money and where are they getting the arms?


SEYMOUR HERSH: The key player is the Saudis. What I was writing about was sort of a private agreement that was made between the White House, we're talking about Richard -- Dick -- Cheney and Elliott Abrams, one of the key aides in the White House, with Bandar. And the idea was to get support, covert support from the Saudis, to support various hard-line jihadists, Sunni groups, particularly in Lebanon, who would be seen in case of an actual confrontation with Hezbollah -- the Shia group in the southern Lebanon -- would be seen as an asset, as simple as that.


GORANI: The Senora government, in order to counter the influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon would be covertly according to your reporting funding groups like Fatah al-Islam that they're having issues with right now?


HERSH: Unintended consequences once again, yes.


GORANI: And so if Saudi Arabia and the Senora government are doing this, whether it's unintended or not, therefore it has the United States must have something to say about it or not?


HERSH: Well, the United States was deeply involved. This was a covert operation that Bandar ran with us. Don't forget, if you remember, you know, we got into the war in Afghanistan with supporting Osama bin Laden, the mujahadin back in the late 1980s with Bandar and with people like Elliott Abrams around, the idea being that the Saudis promised us they could control -- they could control the jihadists so we spent a lot of money and time, the United States in the late 1980s using and supporting the jihadists to help us beat the Russians in Afghanistan and they turned on us. And we have the same pattern, not as if there's any lessons learned. It's the same pattern, using the Saudis again to support jihadists, Saudis assuring us they can control these various group, the groups like the one that is in contact right now in Tripoli with the government.


GORANI: Sure, but the mujahadin in the '80s was one era. Why would it be in the best interest of the United States of America right now to indirectly even if it is indirect empower these jihadi movements that are extremists that fight to the death in these Palestinian camps? Doesn't it go against the interests not only of the Senora government but also of America and Lebanon now?


HERSH: The enemy of our enemy is our friend, much as the jihadist groups in Lebanon were also there to go after Nasrullah. Hezbollah, if you remember, last year defeated Israel, whether the Israelis want to acknowledge it, so you have in Hezbollah, a major threat to the American -- look, the American role is very simple. Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, has been very articulate about it. We're in the business now of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia, against the Shia in Iran, against the Shia in Lebanon, that is Nasrullah. Civil war. We're in a business of creating in some places, Lebanon in particular, a sectarian violence.


GORANI: The Bush administration, of course, officials would disagree with that, so would the Senora government, openly pointing the finger at Syria, saying this is an offshoot of a Syrian group, Fatah al-Islam is, where else would it get its arms from if not Syria.


HERSH: You have to answer this question. If that's true, Syria which is close -- and criticized greatly by the Bush administration for being very close -- to Hezbollah would also be supporting groups, Salafist groups -- the logic breaks down. What it is simply is a covert program we joined in with the Saudis as part of a bigger broader program of doing everything we could to stop the spread of the Shia, the Shia world, and it bit us in the rear, as it's happened before.


GORANI: Sure, but if it doesn't make any sense for the Syrians to support them, why would it make any sense for the U.S. to indirectly, of course, to support, according to your reporting, by giving a billion dollars in aid, part of it military, to the Senora government -- and if that is dispensed in a way that that government and the U.S. is not controlling extremist groups, then indirectly the United States, according to the article you wrote, would be supporting them. So why would it be in their best interest and what should it do according to the people you've spoken to?


HERSH: You're assuming logic by the United States government. That's okay. We'll forget that one right now. Basically it's very simple. These groups are seeing -- when I was in Beirut doing interviews, I talked to officials who acknowledged the reason they were tolerating the radical jihadist groups was because they were seen as a protection against Hezbollah. The fear of Hezbollah in Washington, particularly in the White House, is acute. They just simply believe that Hassan Nasrallah is intent on waging war in America. Whether it's true or not is another question. There is a supreme overwhelming fear of Hezbollah and we do not want Hezbollah to play an active role in the government in Lebanon and that's been our policy, basically, which is support the Senora government, despite its weakness against the coalition. Not only Senora but Mr. Ahun, former military leader of Lebanon. There in a coalition that we absolutely abhor.


GORANI: All right, Seymour Hersh of "The New Yorker" magazine, thanks for joining us there and hopefully we'll be able to speak a little bit in a few months' time when those developments take shape in Lebanon and we know more. Thanks very much.


HERSH: glad to talk to you.

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The Redirection

Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

by Seymour Hersh



The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”



from the issuecartoon banke-mail thisSome of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.


A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee told me that he had heard about the new strategy, but felt that he and his colleagues had not been adequately briefed. “We haven’t got any of this,” he said. “We ask for anything going on, and they say there’s nothing. And when we ask specific questions they say, ‘We’re going to get back to you.’ It’s so frustrating.”


The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. (Cheney’s office and the White House declined to comment for this story; the Pentagon did not respond to specific queries but said, “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”)

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Perhaps you didn't know SeeMore Hershy (the stinking stuff) is THE ultra leftwing idiotcrat writer whos works of fiction are legendary with the "Hate America First Crowd", although his real aim is at G W Bush and the Republicans he damages America with his deciet world wide. He is a moral coward and dispicable man. Thankyou for contributing that awful piece of Propaganda and fiction. (see below a disection of that article)



To quote Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books, "in his mad zeal to destroy Camelot (the Bush Administration) . . . Hersh has with precision and method disassembled and obliterated his own career and reputation."



Tony does a great job deconstructing Seymour Hersh's ridiculous piece in the New Yorker, which the world media is eating up like hot candy. Worse than a press that doesn't ask the right questions is a press that makes up its own facts. "Investigative reporter" Hersh combines both talents in his latest article, "The redirection". (see From Beirut to the Beltway )[/font]



<H3 style="MARGIN: 0in 0in auto">The Sylight Zone </H3>

That Seymour Hersh's reporting is shrill, hilariously conspiratorial, thin, ideologically skewed, and based on dubious sources is hardly news. His latest doesn't break with that shoddy tradition. It does, however, reflect a bonus trait to add to his pieces: seamless meshing with the propaganda and ideological agenda of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah -- the fruit of his recent trip and dinner parties, as well as his sources.


There are several things I can rip apart in this typically ridiculous piece, but I will confine myself to Lebanon-related material.


In order to fully understand the piece, you must read it with Hersh's comments to Wolf Blitzer earlier today, where Hersh offered the "interpretive key" so to speak, as well as an interview with the pro-Syrian as-Safir daily. It also gives you a sense of the unfiltered, wide-eyed lunacy that got edited out in the New Yorker piece, and shows just how ludicrous Hersh's "reporting" is, amounting to little more than wholesale, verbatim regurgitation of Hezbollah and Syrian propaganda.


Hersh immediately presents the underlying, pathetically reductionist and silly premise: who is the "real" enemy and the "real" danger, Iran or the Sunnis? It was succinctly summarized in his as-Safir interview: "we are against Sunni jihadism, for it was responsible for 9/11, not the Shi'a." This was reflected in the article in a quote by Vali Nasr (who along with other Iranian analysts -- Ali Ansari, Kaveh Afrasiabi, Hossein Askari, Ray Takeyh, et al. -- has been pushing this line from that particular trench): "It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what's the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals." It was also "confirmed" by the useless Flynt Leverett in a side-splitting comment dripping with conspiracism and Flynt's usual narrow, shallow nonsense: "The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq ... The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them." The latter part is really the part that concerns Hersh the most.


The next step in Hersh's mental construct -- guided by overt hatred of the Bush administration -- is how this is setting the stage for war with Iran. This translates into covert (naturally!) action by the US against Iran and its allies and interests in the region. The basic idea is that the United States (namely the NSC, the OVP, and the DoD) are going after Iran and the axis it leads in cooperation with the Saudis, namely Prince Bandar. How are they going about it? By funding and arming Sunni extremist groups to counter pro-Iranian Shiites and Iran's sidekick, Syria. And the fun begins!


Again, Nasr provides the hook: "The Saudis have considerable financial means, and have deep relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis." We've almost reached the heart of the theory. The next step: How does this relate to Lebanon and Syria?[/size]


Hershy says:

Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that "they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was 'We've created this movement, and we can control it.' It's not that we don't want the Salafis to throw bombs; it's who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran."


Now, you are entitled to wonder here who Hersh's source is on this. Who is the person privy to this sensitive information? Surely, an NSC or OVP official. Perhaps even a DoS official, or perhaps someone from the DoD. What about a Saudi source? No, it's even better than that! It's a "U.S. government consultant." It's air tight!


But why stop there? Hersh insists on dazzling us with his -- and this "consultant's" -- superior knowledge of things relating to Lebanon. The "plan," known in its entirety to the "consultant," has "at least" four points. Might as well jump to the fourth!


Hershy says:

Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington's approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah. The Saudi government is also at odds with the Syrians over the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, in Beirut in 2005, for which it believes the Assad government was responsible. Hariri, a billionaire Sunni, was closely associated with the Saudi regime and with Prince Bandar. (A U.N. inquiry strongly suggested that the Syrians were involved, but offered no direct evidence; there are plans for another investigation, by an international tribunal.)


Um, Sy, if you want people to take your theories seriously for more than five seconds, it might help to actually get some basic facts rights, like perhaps Assad's name (Bashar), or that the international tribunal is not "another investigation," but, er, as its name suggests, an "international tribunal" as in "trying" suspects in the murder. If you're picky, you might want to discuss that issue a bit more, but you know, I'm sure it wasn't the topic of choice at Imad Moustapha's dinner table. But certainly tying Hariri to Prince Bandar (based on what information?) might be something Moustapha could pander to people. After all, his boss's internet propaganda tool, Cham Press, has been doing just that with Hariri's son, Saad. We'll get to that later.


Also, perhaps you could've spent more time on the reason for Syrian-Saudi tension. After all, you are suggesting that Saudi Arabia is about to fund Salafis to take down Assad's regime. I'm sure there's more at stake there than Hariri's murder. Details, details... Who has time for that?


But Hersh hasn't yet provided us with the juice. It's just a tease. The rest is coming: "The focus of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, after Iran, is Lebanon, where the Saudis have been deeply involved in efforts by the Administration to support the Lebanese government."


Now, the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese Sunnis, Druze and Christians who took to the streets to support Seniora's government might be surprised to learn that "[m]any in the Arab world" view "Siniora as a weak politician who relies on America's support." And perhaps, King Abdullah (of KSA and of Jordan), Hosni Mubarak, France and a host of Paris III donor countries might also take issue with Hersh's contention that Seniora relies on "America's support" to survive. Furthermore, one could also argue that Nasrallah is also seen by "many in the Arab world" as a Shiite tool of Iran's Khamenei. But this (Nasrallah = supported by the Arab world vs. Seniora = propped by America) is part and parcel of what I described as pathetic reductionism and a penchant for facile dichotomies, which I will explore further below.


But there's more than just the US supporting a democratically elected government. Here comes the heavy stuff, based on what "American, European and Arab officials" told Hersh. The basic idea was summarized in his CNN interview:


Hershy says:

My government, which arrests al Qaida every place it can find them and sends -- some of them are in Guantanamo and other places, is sitting back while the Lebanese government we support, the government of Prime Minister Siniora, is providing arms and sustenance to three jihadist groups whose sole function seems to me and to the people that talk to me in our government, to be there in case there is a real shoot-'em-up with Hezbollah and we really get into some sort of serious major conflict between the Sunni government and Hezbollah, which is largely Shia.


Yes, "largely" Shia. But where were we? Ah. The Seniora government is "providing arms and sustenance" to jihadist groups! THE Evidence? Oh yes, "American, European, and Arab officials." Who exactly? Let's start with the "European" one, Hezbollah-hugger Alastair Crooke!


Hershy says:

"The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous." Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. "I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government's interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah," Crooke said.

The largest of the groups, Asbat al-Ansar, is situated in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. Asbat al-Ansar has received arms and supplies from Lebanese internal-security forces and militias associated with the Siniora government.


Come again!? The pro-Hezbollah Crooke "was told"?! OK, how about this. "It was reported" that in fact, members from Fateh al-Islam were arrested by the government and during interrogation, two of them (one of whom was Syrian) confessed to receiving orders from Syria to assassinate Lebanese figures associated with the anti-Syrian coalition, and also to plan operations against UNIFIL, as many a Syrian official, including "Bashir" Assad himself, have threatened (specifically about unleashing such groups in Lebanon). The other members of the group, "it was reported," were smuggled into Lebanon, via Syria, after participating in action (again, via Syria, who in Hersh's facile scheme is on the receiving end of Salafi attacks!) in Iraq.


ّIn fact, about two weeks ago, the government forces clashed with Fateh al-Islam members who managed to capture three policemen (ISF) on patrol near the Nahr el-Bared camp and hold them for two hours. Maybe they thought they were Hezbollah! But wait, I thought the ISF was "the Sunni militia" that the US was arming, as irresponsible reporters like Megan Stack and Michael Slackman propagated in recent months.


Sultan Abul Ainein, the representative of Fateh (the original one) in Lebanon, strongly criticized this new phenomenon of Fateh al-Islam and gave support for the Lebanese Army to take the necessary measures to preserve stability. Maybe he didn't get the memo from Alastair Crooke.


What about Asbat al-Ansar? ّIs Alastair Crooke the source for that claim as well? What is the evidence? Was he "told"!? This is flat out preposterous reporting. We have now gone from Stack's and Slackman's "the ISF -- an official institution -- is a Sunni militia" to "the ISF is arming Asbat al-Ansar and Fateh al-Islam." Simply pathetic.


But Hersh added that not only is the ISF responsible for arming these groups, but also "militias associated with the Siniora government"! Apparently, what Hersh wanted to put here was edited out by the New Yorker. But never fear, he revealed it in all its hilarity to as-Safir. Who is this "militia associated with the Siniora government"? Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces! Why, of course! They are known to arm and support Salafist groups in Palestinian camps!


Naturally, Hersh's evidence and sources for such a preposterous claim are typically impeccable. Here's what he told as-Safir (emphasis mine):


Hershy says:

Samir Geagea was strongly opposed to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and to his agreement with Michel Aoun. His Lebanese Forces were involved, I was told, in directly or indirectly helping a Sunni jihadi group that snuck in [to Lebanon.] The problem is that when my government distributes money to people in order to "take care of Hezbollah," we don't always know where it ends up. One of the theories of one of my sources, was that the money received by the security services and the Lebanese Forces comes from American aid un appropriated by Congress for this purpose. This is a very important point.


AS: Is this aid simply money or arms also?


SH: Money buys arms. There is a point I didn't write about. Money always flows in Lebanon, mainly from the Gulf states.


Simply impeccable reporting. What utter garbage. "One of the theories" of one of my sources?! Un-appropriated funds sent to the Lebanese Forces?! Just what the badWord is this nonsense? Oh wait, Hersh has an irrefutable response to such criticism. He conveyed it to Wolf Blitzer:


Hershy says:

And a lot of this money, and I can't tell you with absolute assurance how, exactly when and how, but this money has gotten into the hands, among other places, in Lebanon, into the hands of three, at least three jihadist groups.


There's three Sunni jihadist groups whose main claim to fame inside Lebanon right now is that they are very tough. These are people connected to al Qaida who want to take on Hezbollah. So this government, at the minimum, we may not directly be funneling money to them, but we certainly know that these groups exist.


As Triumph the Insult Comic Dog would put it: "Oh Yes!" You gotta love Hersh. He starts with the assertion that the money "has gotten into the hands" of "at least" three jihadist groups, but he can't tell us with absolute certainty! Then asserts the purpose of these "funds" to these jihadist groups: to take on Hezbollah. And then, the coup de grace: the government, "at the minimum," we may not directly be funneling money to them, "but we certainly know these groups exist"! Oh Yes! That we know for sure! Such compelling Cartesian logic: I exist, therefore I am a jihadist funded by the Americans through the Seniora government! And people respect this guy?!


OK, Hersh, give us another one. Who's the American "official" who told you these things? Oops! No one else is quoted to that effect aside from Crooke. But don't worry, we'll take your word on it. Or rather, we'll take your word on one of the theories of one of your anonymous sources who is not quoted on this issue.


All joking aside, there is something incredibly disturbing about all this. For anyone familiar with the situation in Lebanon, and who follows the political discourse closely, as I do, will immediately realize that Hersh is internalizing and uncritically disseminating the propaganda of Hezbollah and its allies. There are unmistakable key words and claims used by Hersh that are a dead give away. The rest was supplied by Syria's ambassador to the US, Imad Moustapha, I'm sure.


In fact, I bet you that the "Middle East ambassador" quoted in the piece is none other than Moustapha. That too might be discernible for those who follow the Syrian political discourse and official statements. For instance, the ambassador told Hersh:


Hershy says:

Bandar's mission—which the ambassador said was endorsed by the White House—also aimed "to create problems between the Iranians and Syria." There had been tensions between the two countries about Syrian talks with Israel, and the Saudis' goal was to encourage a breach. However, the ambassador said, "It did not work. Syria and Iran are not going to betray each other. Bandar's approach is very unlikely to succeed."


Anyone who reads the official Syrian leaks, which usually are put out by the Syrian regime through their man in al-Hayat, Ibrahim Hamidi, would suspect that the speaker is probably Syrian, as the same exact line was put out by Hamidi. Syrian functionaries, like the hapless Moustapha, are hardly the "free thinkers" who make statements on their own. They are people who follow the official line and regurgitate it. This is a perfect example. My money is on Moustpaha.


Therefore, all of Hersh's claims come either directly from Hezbollah, or from Hezbollah sympathizers, or functionaries of Hezbollah's regional allies.


To give you an example of the kind of "information" Hersh got from his meeting with Nasrallah. In December, Walid Jumblat revealed in a press conference that when he met with Hersh, he [Hersh] told him that Nasrallah had told him [Hersh] that when Jumblat and Marwan Hamade went to the US in March (before the summer war, started by Hezbollah), they went there in order to plan the summer war with the Americans!


The "information" put out by Hersh in this piece and in his interviews is of the same caliber, from the same sources, and is equally unprocessed.


Take this other claim for instance, attributed to seemingly two people, who may actually be the same person:


Hershy says:

A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, "The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement." He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front's members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.


Let's start with the basics. The delegation of the NSF met with members of the NSC in 2006, not 2005 (it wasn't yet formed in 2005). Now, again, my hunch is that this "former" CIA officer and "former" White House official is none other than the above-mentioned Bashar cheerleader, Flynt Leverett. As for the information, Hersh needn't have talked to Leverett (oops, I meant the "former CIA officer" and the "former White House official") about it. He could've asked me, and I would've told him that Bashar's internet propaganda tool had put out the same exact "information" months ago! My feeling is that once again the source of this "information" is probably the same.


As for the "travel documents," Khaddam doesn't need them. He holds Saudi citizenship. Did Hersh even try to confirm any of this "information," if not with someone from the NSF (Ammar Abdulhamid lives in the DC area), at least with a "current" official or CIA officer (they could even be two different people!)? Details, details...


Speaking of Cham Press, that bit of unchecked "information" fed to Hersh by (who else) Narallah's aides about how "they believe he is a prime target of fellow-Arabs, primarily Jordanian intelligence operatives" was also available on Cham Press in the summer! Wouldn't you know it, Cham Press also claimed that Jordan was training Hariri and Geagea militias and had set up offices in Lebanon for such purposes! What a surprise! badWord, I believe I could've written Hersh's entire article myself -- including the Leverett and Moustapha quotes -- based on Cham Press and Hezbollah "reports" and official Syrian leaks!


Although, I must admit, I can never make up the kind of stuff given to Hersh by Robert Baer. I mean who else could've provided this gem: "we've got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it's going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites."


Yeah, let the militant Khomeinist Islamist group -- who burned tires and blocked roads and attacked Christian neighborhoods after a program on a Christian TV station satirized their leader -- be the "protector" of the Christians! Why didn't I think of that one!? badWord, let's also make Moqtada Sadr's Mehdi Army the "protector" of Christians in Iraq too! Sometimes I wonder if Hersh's articles, and this type of quotes, isn't just dark humor, or The Onion-style writing. Yet it's not a joke. This too is part of the Syrian and Hezbollah propaganda. That the "crazies" are the Sunnis, who are the real threat to the Christians. Hezbollah, on the other hand, is disciplined, pure, not seeking an Islamic state, etc. This is how Michel Aoun is trying to sell his unnatural alliance with Hezbollah to the Christians as well.


Moreover, this is the result of the facile dichotomies that I mentioned earlier and which underline the entire piece. The entire premise predicates that Iran and Syria are not themselves active supporters of Sunni Islamists and jihadists. That it's the exclusive realm of Saudi Arabia and the Lebanese Sunni Hariri! This approach is dangerously silly.


For one, a recent report (and earlier ones) noted how Iran is in fact actively supporting both Shiite militias and Sunni jihadists in Iraq. As for Syria, well, its alliance with Sunni jihadists and Islamists needs no introduction. Just ask the Syrian regime's US-based flack. I quote: "The al-Qaeda type jihadist groups are not emerging in Syria because Syria encourages them in other countries." That they do, especially in Iraq, where Bashar actively aided jihadists, and his regime worked openly with recruiters. Also don't forget the above-mentioned Fateh al-Islam and other Palestinian Islamists, pace Mr. Alastair Crooke. This is not to mention Hamas, because we don't want to upset Mr. Crooke, who is also a Hamas cheerleader.


There's also one other interesting Salafi Islamist allied with Hezbollah in Lebanon and who was received like royalty by Bashar Assad himself. He is one of the very few Sunnis in Lebanon who are openly allied with Hezbollah. He is also an open supporter of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden. His name is Fathi Yakan. Check him out sometime, Sy.


So you see, it's hardly the clear-cut scheme that Hersh and his one-sided sources want to make it out to be. But then again, without that neat configuration, how would we get the stellar conspiracism and all the "supportive" florilegium of priceless quotes!? I should also note though that some other quotes in there, like those by Patrick Clawson and the one by Leslie Gelb are rather interesting.


I could go on and demolish other parts of this ridiculous piece, especially the section on Nasrallah, but I don't want to ruin the fun for you. Just make sure you can find your way back out of the Sylight Zone.




Tony has addressed most of the points I wanted to address, including the preposterous accusations that the Lebanese government is arming al-Qaeda affiliates in Lebanon with the aim to attack "largely" Shia Hizbullah. Hersh's sources consist of washed up former intelligence officials, "government consultants" and think tank dwellers with statements beginning with "it seems".


Or guys like this one:


Hershy says:

A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee told me that he had heard about the new strategy, but felt that he and his colleagues had not been adequately briefed. "We haven't got any of this," he said. "We ask for anything going on, and they say there's nothing. And when we ask specific questions they say, 'We're going to get back to you.' It's so frustrating."


Oh yeah, it's "so frustrating" to not know much about anything, isn't it… After a series of recycled political analysis that reminds us of the Arab states' fear of the Shias (what a revelation that is), Hersh resorts to the Council on Foreign Relations for some more guess work.


Hershy says:

"It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what's the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals," Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me.


All that evidence, Hersh says, proves that the alleged US strategy of clandestine activities against Syria and Iran is "bolstering ... Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda".


Oh? So, according to Hersh, by (allegedly) waging clandestine operations against Syria and Iran, known to support and facilitate al-Qaeda operations in Iraq and Lebanon, the US is bolstering al-Qaeda?


Al-Qaeda must be in happy place now. The US government, Iran and Syria are all supporting it. Hersh must think himself super smart and the administration stupid, for he thinks, and since "most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites" (in a parachuting manner, mind you, Islamists are being dropped by the Sunni god from the sky), the administration is busy correcting an "unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran".


So this administration is so dumb, that it's willing to bolster Sunni extremists to get back at Iran, which, to Hersh, has done nothing wrong in Iraq, not to mention Lebanon.



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Egyptians Seethe Over Gaza, and Their Leaders Feel Heat


By MICHAEL SLACKMANPublished: January 9, 2009




As the war in Gaza burned through its 14th day, Arab governments have felt their legitimacy challenged with an uncommon virulence. With each passing day, and each Palestinian death, the popularity of Hamas and other radical movements has ratcheted higher on the Arab street, while the standing of Arab leaders has suffered





As observer, I think the Israeli government is committing it's second biggest mistake in two years. The problem is that the governing class in Israel is not able to coop with the huge change in the dynamics of the Israeli Arab conflict. This class was used to deal with governments and regular armies, some thing that excessive force can successfully be the resolving tool. The conflict today is no longer with the governments but rather with people and popular movements. Force might be good to help a political process but not when it turns to be the only way to enforce a non workable solution that came to break the political process. This force usage is nothing but to help the instability and to widen the gap between people and the voice of moderation.

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If the Isrealites and Palestinians must own the same land there will never be peace. If the Palestinians can believe in a two state solution, there will be peace with honor in the future


Hello Hogan,

Welcome back on this site.

Realities show that both Israelis and Palestinians need a new vision. Israelis need to deal with Palestinians as a nation with dignity and full right to have their sovereign state that can live in peace with all neighbors. Palestinians need to understand that Israel state is a fact and it's existence can be for their benefits.


Let us hope that the new US administration can play a non biased rule through reaching all parties with open hand of help.

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Interesting 60 Minutes report on the Isreali/Palestinian situation. People used to say Arabs were incapable of democracy, their culture is just too violent. But Iraq is showing that all people are capable of peace and freedom. People are saying that Israelis and Palestinians are incapable of living in a two state solution. My hope is they will be proven wrong too. Isrealis must believe they can give up all their holy lands on the West Bank for peace and Palestinians must want a bright future more than they want the destruction of Israel. I believe Obama will empower moderate voices and forcefully oppose extremism fairly on both sides .


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Below is an interesting article by New York Times. Ironically , it comes on the 43rd remembrance day of "naksa" June's outstanding defeat to the Arab regimes armies by the Israel.


Israel and Outremer



Published: June 6, 2010

Watching the Israeli government's botched, bloody attempt to enforce its blockade of Gaza, I kept thinking about Outremer. That's the name — French for "beyond the sea" — given to the states that the Crusaders established in the Holy Land during the High Middle Ages: the principality of Antioch, the counties of Edessa and Tripoli, and the kingdom of Jerusalem.


Out of a mix of amnesia and self-abnegation, we tend to remember the Crusader states only as deplorable exercises in Western aggression. (Never mind that in an age defined by conquest and reconquest, they were no less legitimate than the Muslim states they warred against — which had themselves been founded atop once-Christian territories.) The analogy between Israel and Outremer is usually drawn by Israel's enemies: "Jews and Crusaders" is one of Osama bin Laden's favorite epithets, and Palestinian radicals often pine for another Saladin to drive the Israelis into the sea.


But Israel's friends can learn something from Outremer as well. Like today's Jewish republic, the Crusader kingdoms were small states forged by military valor, based in the Middle East but oriented westward, with distant patrons and potential foes just next door. Like Israel, they were magnets for fanatics from east and west alike. And when they eventually fell — after surviving for longer than Israel has currently existed — it was for reasons that are directly relevant to the challenges facing the Israeli government today.


The first reason was geographic: the Holy Land is easier to conquer than defend, because its topograpy and regional position leave it perpetually vulnerable to invasion. The second was diplomatic: the Crusaders were perpetually falling out with their major neighbors, from Byzantium to Egypt, and the support they enjoyed from Western Europe was too limited to save them from extinction. The third was demographic: the ruling class of Outremer, primarily Frankish knights and their retainers, was a minority in a territory whose inhabitants were largely Eastern Orthodox and Muslim, and they had difficulty achieving the kind of integration that long-term stability required.


A decade ago, before the collapse of the peace process, the Israelis seemed to be faring better than Outremer on all three fronts. Their potent armed forces and nuclear deterrent more than offset the weakness of their geographic position. After decades of isolation, they had forged reasonably stable relationships with many regional powers — including Turkey, Jordan and Egypt — and an enduring bond with the world's superpower, the United States. Their substantial Arab minority was better-treated and better-integrated than minority populations in almost any other Middle Eastern state. And they appeared to be disentangling themselves from the long-term occupation of a much larger Arab population in Gaza and the West Bank.


Ten years later, though, only the military advantage endures. Diplomatically and demographically, Israel increasingly faces the same problems that bedeviled the 12th-century kings of Jerusalem.


In the wake of the Gaza and Lebanon wars, and now the blockade-running fiasco, the Jewish state is as isolated on the world stage as it's been since the dark Zionism-is-racism years of the 1970s. Meanwhile, its relationship with its Arab citizens is increasingly strained, the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank seems destined to continue indefinitely, and both Arab populations are growing so swiftly that Jews could soon be a minority west of the Jordan River.


Israel can probably live with diplomatic isolation so long as the American public remains staunchly on its side. But it will have a harder time surviving the demographic transformation of its territory. If the Jewish state can't extricate itself from the West Bank, it may be forced to choose between the quasi-apartheid of a permanent occupation, and the dissolution that would likely follow from giving Palestinians a significant voice in Israel's politics.


Israel's critics often make this extrication sound easy. In reality, it promises to involve enormous sacrifices, of land and everyday security alike — whether in the form of extraordinary concessions to a divided Palestinian leadership, or a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank that would be more wrenching than the 2005 retreat from Gaza.


What's more, either approach would almost certainly invite stepped-up violence from the irreconcilable Palestinian factions and their Iranian and Syrian backers, who will see any retreat as a cue to escalate the struggle.


As Walter Russell Mead put it recently, Israel may "have to pay virtually the full price for peace ... without getting full peace." Nobody should blame Israelis for shying from this possibility.


Yet it may be the only way to guarantee their survival as a nation. Outremer was finally overrun by Muslim armies. But if Israel is destroyed, it will be destroyed from within.




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Interesting article in NY Times. The writers are thinking that the Turkish take over isn't toward Israel but to liberate the Arabs mind from the control of the Revolutionary regime of Ahmedi Najad.

The current move by the Turks could be understood in the context of Arab world vacuum of legitimate leadership. While the Iranians tried their best to fill the gap using the Anti Israeli feelings among Arabs, it is the Turkish turn to use same cause. History may repeat itself so that the Arabs are back to the long siege by two poles system of Parisian-Turkish control.





Turkey's Gain Is Iran's Loss







With Turkey capturing the hearts, minds and wallets of Arabs, Iran will increasingly find it harder to carry out its agenda of destabilizing the region and the globe. For Americans, it may be hard to see the blessings in a rift with a longtime ally. But even if Turkey's interests no longer fully align with ours, there is much to be gained from a Westernized, prosperous and democratic nation becoming the standard-bearer of the Islamic world.
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