Fair Policy, Fair Discussion

July 28, 2010

Can You Believe the Spin?

Filed under: Gaza,Hamas,Israeli politics,Netanyahu government's policy,Uncategorized — quinnconnors @ 3:20 pm

In a recent visit to Turkey, the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the current blockade on Gaza and referred to the territory as a “prison camp”.   The Israeli embassy in London accordingly responded to Mr. Cameron’s remarks by asserting that the Palestinians living in Gaza are actually prisoners of Hamas, rather than prisoners of the Israeli blockade. Furthermore, the Israeli spokesperson claimed that Hamas, due to its election in 2006, is responsible for the situation in Gaza.

While the media is focusing on the visit and remarks by David Cameron, the responding statements by the Israeli embassy are, in my view, more interesting.  Both statements are clear examples of political spin, but spin that has gone so far as to place the blame for Israeli actions upon Hamas.

The logic is impossible to follow, but according to the Israeli envoy to the UK, this is what we are supposed to understand about the blockade. They want us to believe that Hamas really doesn’t care much about the well-being of the Palestinians who elected it into power.  And that Hamas is enforcing a strict blockade on the territory that they control.  Clearly, they would never want any form of international trade, freedom of movement, secure access to power, or building materials.  Instead, Hamas focuses solely on building rockets and killing Israelis, at the expense of any effort that might aid Gaza.

However, the officials who work at the Israeli Embassy are not idiots.  They most likely understand that the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and the ensuing conditions of poverty, are not the responsibility of Hamas.   But they still try to put out this kind of spin, wriggling their way out of any sort of blame or consequences and using Hamas as a scapegoat.  Unfortunately, many in the United States accept this spin without question.

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July 9, 2010

How About a Pollard Spy Exchange?

Filed under: Uncategorized — eugenebird @ 11:26 am

What should Israel give up in exchange for Pollard, its master spy in US Naval intelligence? The US supposedly has no spies in Israel, so the obvious exchange would be Pollard for Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving a life sentence in Israel and is a hero to Palestinians.

The recent Russian-American spy exchange was easy, but it was also relatively unimportant; it merely served to maintain friendly relations between the two countries. A free Marwan Barghouti, on the other hand, would be an ideal personality to bring the Palestinians together.

This is not a facetious suggestion. Barghouti has been used by Israel before–while in jail–to negotiate the eighteen point agreement between Fatah and Hamas to jointly govern the West Bank and Gaza.

Israelis often complain that there is no ‘partner’ on the Palestinian side. A Pollard-Barghouti exchange would provide one. This is exactly what the Mitchell/Obama proximity talks need.

Bibi Netanyahu raised a ruckus at the Wye River negotiations in 1997 when he demanded the release of Pollard as the final price for agreeing to sign a partial withdrawal agreement. He held out for two hours the morning the agreement was to be signed in the East room of the White House. President Clinton initially agreed to release Pollard, but the CIA director said that he would resign if this happened.

We know Prime Minister Sharon also asked for the release of Pollard, who would be a hero in Israel, but US Naval Intelligence is deeply angered by Pollard’s spying and copying of highly classified documents, which led to his conviction twenty years ago.

So why not exchange an aging Pollard for a new and vigorous leader of Palestine who would carry weight with the Palestinian public and be able to create a real negotiating ‘partner’ for Israel in the proximity talks?

July 6, 2010

Noam Chomsky to appear on Radio Show

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ayesha Yousuf @ 10:16 am

On Thursday, July 8, Noam Chomsky is set to appear on our radio show, “CNI: Jerusalem Calling” from 12-1 ET.

Noam Chomsky is a world renowned American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and political activist. He is currently a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Chomsky is a prominent cultural figure, known for his outspoken political views and commentary, especially when it comes to mass media and U.S. foreign policy. In regards to the Middle East, Chomsky has been critical of U.S. policies towards Israel as well Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. He has written books on these issues, including “Fateful Triangle,” “Middle East Illusions,” and “Peace in the Middle East? Reflections on Justice and Nationhood.”

To listen to the show, go to the show’s homepage (www.wsradio.com/cni) and click on the “Listen Live” button for Studio A, at the top left. You can call in with your questions and comments during the second half of the show by calling 877-474-3302, toll-free. International users can ask questions via Skype, by calling Skypename: WSRADIOSTUDIO.

June 29, 2010

Council for the National Interest Names Alison Weir President

Filed under: Uncategorized — frederickbutler @ 10:26 am

After a months-long search, the Council for the National Interest (CNI), a two-decades old Washington DC institute that advocates for “Middle East policies that serve the American national interest” has named former journalist and Executive Director of If Americans Knew Alison Weir as its new President.

Weir will replace retiring President Eugene Bird, a former Foreign Service officer who has led CNI for 17 years.

CNI, founded in 1989, was one of the first organizations created to oppose the power of the Israel Lobby; among its goals  “to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of a foreign country, namely Israel.”

Its founders and leaders read like a “who’s who” of veteran advocates of independent U.S. policies free from Israeli dominance:

  • Former Congressmen Paul Findley, an 11-term Congressman from Illinois who authored the groundbreaking book on the Israel lobby, “They Dare to Speak Out,” published 20 years before the recent volume on the same subject by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.
  • Paul N. “Pete” McCloskey, a former Marine officer, Presidential contender, and one of the first Congressmen to oppose the Vietnam War. (Both Findley and McCloskey were pushed out of Congress by organized campaigns when they began to suggest different U.S. policies regarding Israel.}
  • Former foreign service officers, Ambassador Andrew Killgore, current publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Richard Curtiss, editor of the Washington Report and former U.S. Information Agency chief, and outgoing CNI President Bird, a 20-year foreign service veteran.
  • Harriet Fulbright, President of the J. William and Harriet Fulbright Center, former Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and current Chairman of CNI’s board of directors. She is the widow of Senator William Fulbright, whose Congressional hearings revealed an illicit cycle in which Israel partisans would lobby Congress for money to Israel, which would then be illegally funnel some of the money back to U.S. organizations to lobby for still more money.
  • Robert Keeley, three times Ambassador to Greece, and Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Mauritius.  He was also Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and is the Chairman of the CNI Foundation, the educational arm of CNI.

New President Alison Weir is a former California journalist who founded If Americans Knew, a think tank that focuses on providing facts on Israel-Palestine to the public and specializes in media analysis on the topic.

The organization’s statistical studies reveal that American national media report on Israeli deaths at rates from seven to 14 times greater than they report on Palestinian deaths, even though far more Palestinians have been killed and were killed first. Regional media were found to contain even greater Israeli-centric distortion.

Weir also exposed the fact that many of the journalists reporting on Israel-Palestine for US news media have close family ties to the Israeli military, among them the bureau chief of the New York Times, whose son is an Israeli soldier.

Weir writes and speaks on Israel-Palestine frequently, and has given hundreds of speeches throughout the U.S. and internationally, including at Harvard Law School, Stanford, UC Berkeley, the Naval Postgraduate Institute, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and several briefings on Capitol Hill. She recently spoke at the Asia Media Summit in Beijing.

Weir will split her time between CNI and If Americans Knew, where she is Executive Director, commuting between California and Washington.

She is expected to maintain CNI’s close ties to the diplomatic community – several board members are former ambassadors, or former congressmen such as Wayne Gilchrist (R-MD) and Vice Chairman of CNI Foundation Senator James Abourezk – while increasing its national profile through an expanded web presence and grassroots campaign for  “Middle East policies that serve American interests and represent American values of fairness, justice, and morality.”

Weir states: “This issue transcends politics. Our government’s decades-long unconditional, un-debated, and uniquely massive support for Israel fuels violence, causes massive damage and instability in the region, profoundly undermines U.S. interests nationally and at home, endangers our citizens, and entangles our nation in unnecessary, futile, and tragic wars. It is time for change.”

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June 14, 2010

Rabbi Speaks on Human Rights and Zionism

Today, Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbi’s for Human Rights gave a lecture at the Middle East Institute concerning the definition of  Zionism and its impact on human rights in Israel and the  Occupied Palestinian Territories. Rabbi Ascherman started off his presentation by explaining the fact that within Israel there is a question over the ideological identity of the state. For quite a while there has been a battle between more right-wing zionists and a more liberal non-zionist left.

Ascherman defined  Zionism as the idea that Judaism is not simply a religion, but that the Jews are a people themselves and that their homeland is in Israel. He also explained that this idea existed long before it was called Zionism, and that this can be seen by the fact that for thousands of years the Jewish Holidays and other aspects of the Jewish calendar have been based upon the agricultural calendar of Israel. (more…)

May 25, 2010

An Update on Negotiations

As George Mitchell has returned fruitless from the first round of proximity talks, prospects for success of the four month long project have already dwindled.  A bleak atmosphere of cynicism surrounds Israel and the West Bank, as both Jews and Palestinians believe the talks will be exercises in futility.

The proximity talks seemed doomed from the beginning.  The spirit of negotiations was  dampened  months ago, when in March Netanyahu  announced the building of 1,600 new homes in an East Jerusalem settlement, and President Abbas retaliated by announcing that negotiations with Israel would not take place unless there was a freeze on settlement building.  However, the subsequent scolding and cajoling by the U.S. resulted in both men decreasing the intensity of their agendas, for the sake of possible negotiations. (more…)

May 18, 2010

Nonviolence: a feasible strategy?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.” But can nonviolence be the answer to the contentious issue of occupation in the West Bank?

Over the past few months, a grassroots boycott of settlement-produced goods has gripped Palestinians in the West Bank.  The boycott has recently become more organized, with volunteers (mostly students) campaigning door-to-door, distributing brochures, and burning settlement-products.  So far, the boycott of over one thousand products has resulted in the destruction of $5 million worth of settlement products.  It is estimated that $200 million worth of settlement goods are sold in the West Bank each year, which is a small portion of to Israel’s $200 billion GDP.  Although the economic effects of the boycott have been relatively minimal, it is the social and political effects that are crucial. (more…)

May 11, 2010

Colonel Harry Shaw of the effects of military aid in the Middle East

Filed under: Uncategorized — frederickbutler @ 9:02 am

Colonel Harry Shaw joined Ambassador Edward Peck on CNI: Jerusalem Calling. Colonel Shaw gave a detailed review of the role armed conflict has played in Israel’s history, and how the US has acted as both enabler and critic of Israel’s reliance on military force.

To listen click here

April 27, 2010

Mark Perry on Petraeus Briefing on

Filed under: Uncategorized — frederickbutler @ 1:37 pm

Last week, acclaimed author and former adviser to Yasser Arafat, Mark Perry joined CNIF chairman and host Ambassador Robert V. Keeley on CNI: Jerusalem Calling. Perry joined us to discuss his article in Foreign Policy Magazine on a January 16th meeting between a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To listen to the archived broadcast click on the CNI: Jerusalem Calling Archives toolbar on our website www.cnionline.org.

April 15, 2010

Job opportunity: Director of Programs and Administration, CNI and CNI Foundation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carlton Cobb @ 4:02 pm

The Council for the National Interest and the CNI Foundation are seeking applications for the position of Director of Programs and Administration. There is no deadline for submitting an application, as the position will be filled as soon as possible. (more…)

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