April 28, 2006

United States of Israel?

Robert Fisk does it again, this time meeting up with one of the authors of the recent study on the Israeli Lobby's influence on American foreign policy. The two professors have tried to stay out of the spotlight and instead respond to attacks against them through academic means. Not surprisingly, they have been attacked as anti-Semites because they dared to state the obvious: American foreign policy is heavily influenced by a pro-Israel lobby that pressures the US into making decisions that do not benefit the short or long term interests of Americans. On the contrary, this influence has had a consistently negative impact on America's relations with the rest of the world, and in particular, the Arab and Muslim world. More on the report in this earlier post.

The full text of Robert Fisk's article can be found on this great new blog, or on the Independent's website if you have access to the Portfolio accounts.
"Anyone who criticizes Israel's actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle East policy," the authors have written, "...stands a good chance of being labeled an anti-Semite. Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israeli lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism ... Anti-Semitism is something no-one wants to be accused of." This is strong stuff in a country where - to quote the late Edward Said - the "last taboo" (now that anyone can talk about blacks, gays and lesbians) is any serious discussion of America's relationship with Israel.
In the article, also Robert Fisk discusses the biased reaction of the American press to the release of the Walt & Mearsheimer study.
For a while, the mainstream US press and television - as pro-Israeli, biased and gutless as the two academics infer them to be - did not know whether to report on their conclusions... or to remain submissively silent. The New York Times, for example, only got round to covering the affair in depth well over two weeks after the report's publication, and then buried its article in the education section on page 19. The academic essay, according to the paper's headline, had created a "debate" about the lobby's influence.
The infamous Harvard professor and staunch pro-Israel advocate, Alan Dershowitz, naturally felt compelled to attack the study arguing that the professors "recycled" bigoted "accusations", in other words, he played the anti-Semitic card. The professors are working on a response to his baseless accusations.

Robert Fisk recalls his own experiences in speaking out against Israeli policies and the pressure he faced from US to Australia throughout his career.

I'll leave you with the last section of the article as I don't think there's much to add.
Across the United States, there is growing evidence that the Israeli and neo-conservative lobbies are acquiring ever greater power. The cancellation by a New York theatre company of My Name is Rachel Corrie - a play based on the writings of the young American girl crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 - has deeply shocked liberal Jewish Americans, not least because it was Jewish American complaints that got the performance pulled.

"How can the West condemn the Islamic world for not accepting Mohamed cartoons," Philip Weiss asked in The Nation, "when a Western writer who speaks out on behalf of Palestinians is silenced? And why is it that Europe and Israel itself have a healthier debate over Palestinian human rights than we can have here?" Corrie died trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home. Enemies of the play falsely claim that she was trying to stop the Israelis from collapsing a tunnel used to smuggle weapons. Hateful e-mails were written about Corrie. Weiss quotes one that reads: "Rachel Corrie won't get 72 virgins but she got what she wanted."

Saree Makdisi - a close relative of the late Edward Said - has revealed how a right-wing website is offering cash for University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) students who report on the political leanings of their professors, especially their views on the Middle East. Those in need of dirty money at UCLA should be aware that class notes, handouts and illicit recordings of lectures will now receive a bounty of $100. "I earned my own inaccurate and defamatory 'profile'," Makdisi says, "...not for what I have said in my classes on English poets such as Wordsworth and Blake - my academic speciality, which the website avoids mentioning - but rather for what I have written in newspapers about Middle Eastern politics."

Mearsheimer and Walt include a study of such tactics in their report. "In September 2002," they write, "Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes, two passionately pro-Israel neo-conservatives, established a website (www.campus-watch.org) that posted dossiers on suspect academics and encouraged students to report behaviour that might be considered hostile to Israel... the website still invites students to report 'anti-Israel' activity."

Perhaps the most incendiary paragraph in the essay - albeit one whose contents have been confirmed in the Israeli press - discusses Israel's pressure on the United States to invade Iraq. "Israeli intelligence officials had given Washington a variety of alarming reports about Iraq's WMD programmes," the two academics write, quoting a retired Israeli general as saying: "Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq's non-conventional capabilities."
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25 Comments:

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

Fisk is an imbecile, I'm afraid.

It has been pointed out by many that his works are frequently riddled with
the most elementary errors. (Jesus born in Jerusalem rather than Bethlehem? My goodness!) Here is one run down:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=19033&only

You can get the free 30-day trial subscription to Commentary if you want to read the rest of the article.

For those who put faith in Fisk, it makes for a painful read.

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger Rambling Hal said...

I am afraid I have to disagree with Tommy.

I absolutely love Fisk, and I have no problem with his English-like sensationalism of a story - I love that it's not just dry news coming out of him, and I actually got to meet the man and hang out with him, so there's nothing that can be done, I'm a fan!

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger Kel said...

Well done, Moi. Great article.

And I agree with rambling hal. Fisk is a brave man who calls it like he sees it.

I was lucky enough to be in his company once in London, when he was lecturing to promote "The Great War for Civilisation".

What struck me that night was when he spoke of his regrets that he had sacrificed any idea of family life in order to bring people the truth.

I suspect that Tommy must be one of the Israel First brigade, as I notice he didn't actually take Fisk to task on any point that he made in the article, he rather chose to dismiss Fisk in general.

That's always an indication that a poster is on shaky ground.

If he wants to argue any of the points that Fisk made, I'd be more than willing to debate them.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

OK, Kel.

So prove to me that Jesus was born in Jerusalem instead of Bethlehem? LOL!

This guy can't even get facts straight that an elementary school student could get correct.

I'm mean come on! You have to wonder if this material even passed an editor's desk. For that matter, you have to wonder if this guy even bothered proofreading or revising this crap.

But Hal said it best: "sensationalism."

Sensationalism, indeed.

 
At 3:27 PM, Blogger moi said...

Tommy, as you can see in this post I'm not discussing his most recent book. In fact, I haven't read it yet, and the only knowledge you seem to have of it is through that link. I don't think it's fair to judge a book like that.

Everything I have read from Fisk so far through the Independent has been right on the spot. Yes, he does take a strong approach, and I think more journalists need to do that. He's one of the few that writes about the Palestinian issue through the eyes of the Palestinians, as well as other issues related to the Middle East in general.

He's not alone in his agreement with the Israel Lobby paper. As you can see, he's been the target of this kind of influence so he knows first hand what it feels like to be pressured one way or another.

Hal and Kel, it looks like all his admirers have met him, hehe. Although I can't say it was a personal meeting, one of the first big events I attended during college was a lecture by Fisk and it was amazing!

 
At 4:50 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

No, moi, I'm afraid I've read plenty of Fisk's nonsense in the past. He is quite the comedian.

For you to say that Fisk's accuracy in previous writings doesn't have any bearing on his opinions concerning the matters in this article is disingenuous. Of course, he is not a reliable or truthful commentator on affairs concerning the Middle East. Far from it.

Once of my favorite Fisk quotes:

“We've had these extraordinary figures in the Middle East, like Nasser, for example, in Egypt in 1956 and people whom we are encouraged to loathe, encouraged to hate and who, ultimately, are just figureheads, who in the end are people who we just are encouraged to loathe, encouraged to hate. People who, at the end of the day, are not per se people who we need to worry about,…”

Oh, yes! Nasser, what a great fellow that Nasser! I remember seeing even Nasser's daughter on TV badmouthing her father recently. But no such harsh words from Fisk. LOL!

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2006/s1624572.htm
In this often incoherent interview, Fisk admits that Zarqawi is real after all.

http://www.themercury.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=336&fArticleId=2303751
In this hilarious piece of claptrap, Fisk attempts to (without directly saying so, of course) imply that Iyad Allawi could have had something to Margaret Hassan's death. LOL!

Fisk should just retire from writing books and get into stand-up comedy. He is such a joker!

This is just a small sampling of the humor of Robert Fisk. The man is frequently incoherent, often completely off base, full of absurd insinuations and, as mentioned earlier, frequently cannot even the most elementary facts correct. One of his favorite tactics, one he shares with that whole slew of Arab and Leftist journalists, is the "Blame America" tactic: blaming America (or the West in other situations) for something completely irrelevent and off-topic to the subject at hand as a way of diverting attention away from the uncomfortable details of whatever it is you are writing about.

Now, for a word on Fisk's Supporters:

Robert Fisk wrote:

"This rubbish followed me round the world. In Australia to launch my book, I was asked - on 10 radio and television shows and in four lectures - how it felt to be banned from the United States. I must have spent a total of two hours collectively explaining that this was untrue. I had simply travelled on an old passport that was no longer valid for entry to the US. It was useless. In Scotland, a university academic introducing me to his audience by announcing that my articles "must at last have got up the nose of the Bush administration" because I had been banned. The internet bullshit followed me to Dublin and then to Cork and then to Belfast. Nothing, it seemed, could switch off the message."

(Source: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article321389.ece)

You might remember that episode right? When all the Bush-bashers went nuts claiming that Robert Fisk had been banned from coming to the United States. Many of the stories that claimed this on the internet, don't even provide an update admitting they were incorrect. Not surprise there. For Fisk's supports, truth is often irrelevent.

 
At 12:02 AM, Blogger kilamxx said...

Hi Moi,
I admire the passion with which you post on the Palestinian cause in your blog.
Rest assured you have millions of supporters from this side of the world, if not in deeds at least in spirit.
Robert Fisk is one of the few journalists who have been consistently contributing impartial writings on what is actually happening in the Middle East.
As for Tommy, he can't even give a decent profile.

 
At 12:51 AM, Blogger shlemazl said...

Well said Kilamxx: "Impartial Fisk". I could not agree more.

Here are the reasons for 9/11 by Robert Fisk: "Our broken promises, perhaps even our destruction of the Ottoman Empire, led inevitably to this tragedy."

Such an impressive analytical mind, such fairness and knowledge of history! Two words: GREAT JOURNALISM!

 
At 12:57 AM, Blogger Tommy said...

Thank's Kilamxx,

I suppose could learn a lot about creating a profile from a person like you.

I especially enjoyed the article on your blog about the reasons why Muslims could not have possibly been responsible for 9/11.

Dude, please stop with the absurd conspiracy theories, it really is silly.
Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center; Osama has admitted it; what more do you need?

Next you'll be claiming it was the Jews who were responsible.

 
At 1:08 AM, Blogger Kel said...

Tommy said, "OK, Kel.

So prove to me that Jesus was born in Jerusalem instead of Bethlehem? LOL!"

Actually I said I'd be happy to debate with you anything Fisk said in the article that Moi was discussing, which concerns the insane influence Israel exerts over US foreign policy.

That's the point you are trying to evade by simply attacking Fisk.

 
At 3:44 AM, Blogger Tommy said...

Kel,

I'm not trying to evade anything.

However, I have a hard time putting much credibility in a man who cannot even get basic facts straight. It would be one thing if he didn't get them right during a conversation or something of that nature, but to publish a book that is so woefully inaccurate, is absurd.

Foreign aid:

As far as Israel goes: We give a few billion to Israel and a few billion to Egypt each year. What do we get for our money? With Israel, we get a country that is essentially pro-Western in outlook, democratic, and a valuable asset in intelligence gathering in the Middle East. It has a well-educated population and is a country we can, and frequently do, collaborate with on scientific and technological issues.

With Egypt we get a nation that is undemocratic, duplicitous, and has a population ungrateful for the aid we dispense (unlike Israel). A nation with a population that is increasingly and militantly Islamic in outlook, and of course, correspondingly uneducated and ignorant. We get a nation that has not fulfilled any of its obligations under the Camp David Accords, a nation that hasn't secured the Gaza border, that doesn't protect the rights of its religious minorities (namely, the Copts), and is corrupt beyond belief.

We should be cutting aid to Egypt, not to Israel.

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger moi said...

Kilamxx, thanks for your kind words.

Shlemazl, it would be better if you tried to argue on the merits of the argument which Fisk makes in the article discussed in this post. I cannot respond to a statement taken out of context like that.

Tommy, trust me, the US is not stupid enough to continue to provide billions of dollars to Egypt if it wasn't getting anything in return. The US benefits highly from providing financial and military support to Egypt as it helps sustain an autocratic regime while at the same time it makes useless calls for democracy in the country. Egypt is one of the largest Arab countries in population and is considered a leader in the region. Having Egypt fall into a democracy that would presumably be dominated by Islamist political parties is not something the US is interested in seeing at the moment. Therefore, the US continues to provide such aid to Mubarak's regime hoping and praying that it continues to stay in power and follow the conditions the US has placed on the aid.

Referring to Egyptians as uneducated and ignorant is very offensive to me and to many others. It is simply ignorant of you to throw out such repulsive attacks to not only a country, but a whole civilization that has more history than the US and Israel will ever dream of having.

In regards to the "benefits" that you claim the American relationship with Israel has garnered, I'm sorry to say that a simple cost-benefit analysis would yield a heavier cost that is simply not worth the stated benefits.

How does it matter that a country claims to be a democracy yet it flagrantly violates international law, UN resolutions, and the human rights of millions of Palestinians and even Israelis living under its control? Israel is not a Western, liberal style democracy. It is a country that clearly identifies itself through a specified religion, thereby inherently discriminating against its sizeable non-Jewish citizenry. I will not delve into the specifics of the discussion on Israel's "democracy" as I have discussed it earlier in this post.

Israel as an asset to "intelligence gathering" is laughable considering the fact that at the same time it sends spies to transmit sensitive American intelligence to its own sources. The US currently has very close relations with most Arab countries who do provide such intelligence. With regards to Iran, the US already has its own people within the country since the fall of the Shah and does not need Israel to provide it. I highly doubt that the most powerful nation on earth needs the help of Israel to get intelligence on arguably the most important region in the world today which the US is already heavily investing billions of dollars in.

A well-educated populace and collaboration on scientific and technological issues is not really worth the lives of Americans, is it? It is not worth threatening close relations with dozens of Arab and Muslim countries who are essentially of much more interest to the US than is Israel. It's not worth making the US look like Israel's puppy. It's not worth losing American credibility in most parts of the world today. The benefits of this relationship do not justify the unjust way the US has dealt with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it is not worth the money, the political leverage, the credibility, and the lives that have all been lost for the sake of this illusive "special relationship."

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

First, thank you for your response moi. I appreciate it.

To answer a few of your comments:

US benefits highly from providing financial and military support to Egypt as it helps sustain an autocratic regime while at the same time it makes useless calls for democracy in the country.

All the more argument to cut the aid, in my opinion. I'm well aware the Muslim Brotherhood would probably dominate the country's politics if Mubarak was gone. However, I believe that until the Arab world realizes just how harmful having Islamic fundamentalists rule over them is, they will continue to look to Islamists as a legitimate alternative. Only after the Islamists have failed, will they consider a truly democratic system as a viable option.

Referring to Egyptians as uneducated and ignorant is very offensive to me and to many others.

Even such Egyptian bloggers as Big Pharaoh point out, that compared to most other countries the region, Egypt suffers a high rate of illiteracy and a poorly educated population. This is a fact. If you find the truth offensive, that is too bad. There are certainly many well-educated people in Egypt. Most of my favorite Arab bloggers are Egyptians, since Egyptians (and perhaps the Lebanese also) dominate the ranks of forward and progressive-thinking Muslims. It is a shame they are only a small minority in their own country. Taken as a whole, Egypt is far more backward than Israel, for instance.

It is simply ignorant of you to throw out such repulsive attacks to not only a country, but a whole civilization that has more history than the US and Israel will ever dream of having.

Yeah, Egypt once had a great civilization. Then came Islam and that was history. ;-)

More seriously, you can't live in the past forever. Today Egypt is sadly just another Third World country. I hope that will change, eventually.

How does it matter that a country claims to be a democracy yet it flagrantly violates international law, UN resolutions, and the human rights of millions of Palestinians and even Israelis living under its control? Israel is not a Western, liberal style democracy.

I'm not going to drag this out into a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. You have stated yourself that you don't want this blog turned into a forum for that. Needless to say, I largely side with the Israelis on this conflict, so your arguments about Palestinian this or international law that are moot to me. Finally, yes, Israel is a Western liberal style democracy - unlike virtually all Muslim countries.

It is a country that clearly identifies itself through a specified religion, thereby inherently discriminating against its sizeable non-Jewish citizenry.

Whatever. Your concern about rights of religious minorities would be better focused at the lack of rights that non-Muslims suffer in Saudi Arabia or that Copts suffer in Egypt or the discrimination and abuse suffered by Palestinian Christians at the hands of Muslims. Muslim Arabs who are Israeli citizens enjoy far more religious rights (and personal safety) than do comparable minorities throughout the Muslim world. They also enjoy far more political rights than do most average citizens in Arab and Muslim countries around the world.

I highly doubt that the most powerful nation on earth needs the help of Israel to get intelligence on arguably the most important region in the world today which the US is already heavily investing billions of dollars in.

Having relatives who have some involvement in the intelligence community, I can only tell you that you have a very naive outlook on how worldwide intelligence operations work. Trust me, the United States routinely exchanges intelligence with other agencies worldwide. No nation has an absolute monopoly on good intelligence in every country in the world and no country willingly ignores intelligence provided by allies.

The Israelis have an especially good intelligence apparatus throughout the Middle East. I could get into how the Israelis provided us with intelligence on the Soviet Union that the United States would have otherwise been unable to obtain during the Cold War, but if you look around you should be able to find plenty of accounts of that yourself. Again, anyone who knows anything about intelligence in the U.S. will tell you that the Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies are the best partners CIA has in that area of the world.

A well-educated populace and collaboration on scientific and technological issues is not really worth the lives of Americans, is it?

LOL! Is that a threat? Save your jihadist threats. I'm not afraid. I don't like jihadists telling me or my fellow citizens what people or groups of people we can or cannot have a peaceful, productive relationship with.

I wish the Arab world would grow up and join us in such a relationship. Maybe someday.

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger moi said...

Tommy,
I don't want to drag this out too long because we clearly differ on most of the arguments in this debate. However, I just wanted to clarify a few points.

I never said that Egypt doesn't have problems. I simply don't like your blanket generalizations about Egyptians. I don't think Israel is the yardstick with which we measure how educated Egyptians are. And no, it wasn't Islam that brought Egypt to the current state of misery that it's in. Mind you, Egyptian civilization flourished under Muslim rule, but not until secular and Western influences arrived did the country begin to deteriorate. This past century has seen a downfall in the contributions that Egypt has provided to the region, but most importantly to its own citizens. It wasn't under the Ottomans or Islamic empires before them that Egyptians were uneducated. It is under Nasser and Sadat when the Egyptians lost their edge. High rates of illiteracy and low levels of education are a direct result of the corrupt governments that have lasted in Egypt for the past few decades, not an inherent character of Egyptians or Arabs or Muslims in general. Please, do tell the US government to stop the aid. Egyptians don't want "aid" that will cripple the progress of democracy because someone in Washington wants to prop up another Arab dictator. We could definitely do without that lame excuse for an Egyptian leader.

Finally, my rhetorical question at the end was not a threat. Unfortunately, your shortsighted jihadi alarm went off too quickly (too much jihadwatch this week?).

I wasn't only referring to the arguments made by terrorists who attack American interests using the Israeli-Palestinian issue as an excuse. I was also referring to the direct loss of American life at the hands of the Israeli government . One example: the USS Liberty attack where 34 US servicemen were killed and 71 injured when Israeli forces deliberately attacked an American ship in international waters during the Six-Day War. The majority of American officials who have seen the documents and/or were victims of the attack acknowledge that the attack was not an accident. Unfortunately, this "special relationship" with Israel continues to be an obstacle to bringing those Israelis responsible to face justice. The lives of Americans are not worth risking our relationship with Israel. That is what I meant.

Please, turn your "jihadist radar" off when visiting my blog.

 
At 6:58 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

Hi moi,

Thank you for your responses.

I'll let you have the last word again, but let me respond to a few things you've said:

I don't think Israel is the yardstick with which we measure how educated Egyptians are.

For the sake of scientific and technological cooperation it is an important yardstick, I'm afraid. Egypt has little to offer compared to Israel, in this regard.

Mind you, Egyptian civilization flourished under Muslim rule, but not until secular and Western influences arrived did the country begin to deteriorate.

Egypt, as an independent cultural entity, really declined with the ascension of Rome. Even before that it had underwent numerous ups and downs. Its history since the decline of Rome has been largely tied to the greater Arab (and later Turkish) world. Arab civilization has been on the decline (compared to Europe, at least) since perhaps a century or two before the Rennaissance. When the western and secular influences you speak of arrived in any real way, even the Ottoman Empire was already past its heyday. Still, even the "Golden Era" of Arab culture (Europe's early Middle Ages), has been greatly overromanticized by Arabs. This is something your favorite "Islamophobe," Robert Spencer, aptly points out.

In my own opinion, I think there is a tendency to look a too fondly (and unrealistically) upon that era is one of the things that keeps Arabs from being able to find a new vision of themselves as a people and pursue a better future. They are stuck fawning over (sometimes exaggerated) past achievements when they should be pursuing new ones. I hope that someday Muslims will put their own history under the same sort of rigorous and critical light that the West has put its history under to gain some perspective. I think if they did so, they would be more realistic and pragmatic about things.

It wasn't under the Ottomans or Islamic empires before them that Egyptians were uneducated. It is under Nasser and Sadat when the Egyptians lost their edge.

Are you saying Nasser wasn't a great man? ;-) Robert Fisk might throwing a hissy fit if he heard you say that. LOL! At least we agree on one thing: Egypt has only gotten worse since Nasser.

Please, do tell the US government to stop the aid.

I agree. We needed these despots and dictators during the Cold War. We don't need them today. Any foreign aid to countries like Egypt should be tied to concrete and measurable improvements in human and civil rights and to improvements in such areas as education. Otherwise, I would rather spend the money in places like Darfur.

I wasn't only referring to the arguments made by terrorists who attack American interests using the Israeli-Palestinian issue as an excuse.

Sorry, we aren't the Europeans, moi. When the Arabs get angry over something we don't, as a nation, grovel in abject fear. We don't behave like dhimmis. We don't accept the argument that because there are savage jihadists out there who would kill us over our support for Israel, or over other "offenses to Islam," that the answer is to appease these morons by giving into their demands. You may not be threatening to wage jihad against us (I was being a little sarcastic earlier, relax) but you are implying that we should worry about those who do threaten it. Sorry, I'm not ready to cower yet.

Consider Afghanistan: Prior to US involvement with the mujahideen in Afghanistan, the rebels were being ruthlessly crushed by the Soviet Union. They didn't stand a chance. That is, until the US became involved. Once we were involved and had armed and trained the resistance, they were able to expel the Soviets. Without the United States, they were doomed. So, did our support and assistance win us any friends among the mujahideen or the Arab world at large? Did the Arabs and other Muslim who came to fight in Afghanistan give the United States any credit for their victory? Of course not. The United States was still a nation of infidels, of kuffar, in their eyes. It wasn't the US that gave them a victory, it was Allah, right? Far from improving our relations with the Islamists, they actually were now more arrogant and surly than ever. If anything, giving them a victory they could attribute to their religious faith and to the superiority of Islam over other creeds only worsened things.

The same applies with Israel. The average bitter anti-American Arab such as yourself (Sarcasm Alert!) isn't a national security threat to the United States. The jihadist, however, is. If the United States were to abandon Israel or even take the Arab side in the conflict, perhaps handing the Arabs a victory, it would not win us any friends. We would still be a nation of infidels. The victory would still be attributed to Islam and Allah. The arrogance and surliness of Arab terrorists would only increase to new heights. The jihadists would simply check Israel off their list, proclaiming it to be one more victory over the kuffar, and would turn their attention to the next object of their global jihad, the "Great Satan" itself (that's us). After all, the goal of all these Islamist movements is a global caliphate, nothing less. We cannot compromise with such people.

One example: the USS Liberty attack where 34 US servicemen were killed and 71 injured when Israeli forces deliberately attacked an American ship in international waters during the Six-Day War. The majority of American officials who have seen the documents and/or were victims of the attack acknowledge that the attack was not an accident.

The USS Liberty attack was an accident. I understand the incident was controversial but your characterization that "the majority of American officials who have seen the documents...." is misleading. Yes, understandably the majority of people on the Liberty believed the Israelis acted intentionally. Given the loss of life involved that anger over the affair that is not difficult to comprehend. Most "officials" do not believe that the act was intentional, though. The NSA a year or two ago released the last remaining classified information on the USS Liberty incident. The information concerns what the Israelis thought they were attacking. The information demonstrates rather conclusively that the incident was unintentional. (Source: http://www.nsa.gov/liberty/)

All right, your turn. You get the last word.

 
At 12:38 PM, Blogger Kel said...

Needless to say, I largely side with the Israelis on this conflict, so your arguments about Palestinian this or international law that are moot to me.

I'm sorry, but I do have to say that I find the above statement simply preposterous.

So what are you saying, you support Israel in the way some people support football teams and that you'll defend the Israeli position whether it's legal or not?

That's a hardly a high moral tone you've adopted and, for all you condemn Fisk, I've heard him be just as hard on Arafat as he is on Israel. He appears to have an objectivity that you are proud not to possess.

 
At 3:37 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

Kel,

Thank you for your response.

So what are you saying, you support Israel in the way some people support football teams and that you'll defend the Israeli position whether it's legal or not?

Since you are asking me a direct question, let me clarify what I am saying for you. I am stating that I generally find the arguments of the pro-Palestinian side of this debate unconvincing.

I generally find it is supporters of the Palestinian argument who behave like they are blindly supporting "football teams." Their reaction to suicide bombings, for instance, ranges from general approval to only very mild disapproval.

That's a hardly a high moral tone you've adopted and, for all you condemn Fisk, I've heard him be just as hard on Arafat as he is on Israel.

The difference is that Fisk has condemned Israel about 100 times more often than he has condemned Arafat. In fact, he has probably condemned the United States about 100 times more often than he has condemned Arafat. Fisk has a hard time even reporting on things like the Syrian-sponsored assassinations in Lebanon without taking a jab, seemingly out of nowhere, at Israel or the United States.

He appears to have an objectivity that you are proud not to possess.

LoL! There is nothing objective about Fisk.

I leave it moi to have the last word if she wants it.

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Kel said...

Tommy: "Since you are asking me a direct question, let me clarify what I am saying for you. I am stating that I generally find the arguments of the pro-Palestinian side of this debate unconvincing.

I generally find it is supporters of the Palestinian argument who behave like they are blindly supporting "football teams." Their reaction to suicide bombings, for instance, ranges from general approval to only very mild disapproval."

Thank you for responding. The latter is much more reasoned than the comment I pulled you up on which was, "Needless to say, I largely side with the Israelis on this conflict, so your arguments about Palestinian this or international law that are moot to me."

Do you stand by your phrase that international law is moot to you?

And I do condemn suicide bombing as I condemn the killing of all innocents to further a political cause.

However, a historic wrong has been done to the Palestinians and it has to be corrected.

But, to my main point, does international law apply to Israel in your book?

 
At 9:25 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

Hello Kel,

Thanks again for your response. You've asked me a few more questions I see:

Do you stand by your phrase that international law is moot to you?

I never stated that international law was moot to me, per se. I was responding to a comment in which the term international law happened to come up.

I will tell you this, however, I don't have much faith in the United Nations to be a fair arbitrator of disputes. So if you are referring to this or that UN resolution when you speak of international law, I cannot help but state that I simply don't agree with the United Nations much of the time.

In fact, it is an utterly worthless body that I favor the United States withdrawing from it completely.

I basically adhere to the position of David Horowitz on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Horowitz has an online magazine called Frontpage.

If you wish to read some of his writings you can find it here:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/

If you search the site and read some of the articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you'll get an idea of where I stand.

I especially recommend this document as a start:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/media/pdf/BigLies.pdf

I think the "historic wrong" you mention is addressed in this document. I agree with Horowitz that there really isn't any "historic wrong" to speak of aside from the actions of Arab nations in the region.

I would be interested in hearing your reaction after reading "Big Lies". What points do you disagree with Horowitz on, do you agree with him on anything?

I'm always willing to listen to the other side, assuming their arguments are logical and founded in fact. I don't care much for appeals to emotion or ad hominem attacks.

One other interesting site, about Palestinian propaganda I came across recently:

http://seconddraft.org/movies.php

"Pallywood" and the "The Birth of an Icon" are good short documentaries on Palestinian propaganda efforts - sometimes quite humorous.

Have a nice one!

 
At 1:23 PM, Blogger Kel said...

Hi Tommy,

I have read Horowitz and find him to be no more than a mouthpiece for the Likud Party spreading Hasbara.

And I do know where you are coming from with your comments regarding the UN. This is a common stance for supporters of Israel. If we are being condemned then it must be the fault of the organisation condemning us rather than the fact we are carrying out the longest occupation in modern history, an occupation that we are using as an excuse to steal land.

But, I'm interested in this. Do you agree with International law when it condemns Saddam or Ahmadinejad? Because Bush is currently going through the UN attepting to get resolutions against Iran that he will then enforce. Is international law only wrong in relation to Israel?

And I'm interested in you saying that you'd favour the US leaving the UN. How would that work? Who would provide Israel with her much needed vetoes if the US wasn't there?

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger kilamxx said...

Tommy, you said:-
‘Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center; Osama has admitted it; what more do you need?’

This is what Bush & co want everyone to think. How convenient for them to have “found” Osama’s “confession tape” just after they invaded Afghanistan, making the tape public in December 2001 just 3 months after 9/11. Their squads of video watchers must have worked overtime going through every video tape found in every building in Afghanistan just in case one showed Osama confessing.

The video was a fake. The ‘Osama’ that was on the ‘lucky find’ video looked nothing like the pictures of Osama previously released by the FBI.
The quality of the video was very poor and the accuracy of the official translation of the tape was questioned by most Arab linguists.

There is excessive noise on the audio track, making it impossible to really hear what is being said. Given that the tape was recorded in an area supposedly devoid of audio urban signature, there should have been little ambient noise, yet the speech is masked with a great deal of noise. Then there is also a gap in the audio track. The tape was obviously doctored.

Osama’s September 28, 2001 denial of involvement in the 9/11 attacks stated his stance. Of the US and Israel relations he had the following to say:-

“This system is totally in control of the American-Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is clear that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel. In fact, it is Israel, which is giving a blood bath to innocent Muslims and the U.S. is not uttering a single word.” [Public Action]

And his views were the same in 1998:
"We say to the Americans as people and to American mothers, if they cherish their lives and if they cherish their sons, they must elect an American patriotic government that caters to their interests, not the interests of the Jews." [American Free Press]
You can check out details on the fake Osama video at this website:-

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/osamatape.html

As to Tommy’s dismissal of my article as being part of a conspiracy theory, it is the US government’s official story on the 9/11 attacks that is looking like the conspiracy theory as more US citizens start to realize that they have been lied to by their government.

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

Hello Kel,

How are you?

To answer a few of your questions:

"And I do know where you are coming from with your comments regarding the UN....If we are being condemned then it must be the fault of the organisation condemning us rather than the fact we are carrying out the longest occupation....."

My condemnation of the United Nations hardly rests on its stance toward Israel alone. The United Nations has been involved in numerous scandals such as the sexual abuse of children in Africa and the Oil-for-Food Program; its history of peacekeeping is of dubious success; it frequently delays needed multilateral action in certain parts of the world; etc. etc.

I just don't think it is a very effective organization and it is a big waste of money. Part of the United Nations problem is that it simply tries to involve itself in too broad a range of international activities. It would be better to have international bodies with more specific purposes than the United Nations.

Do you agree with International law when it condemns Saddam or Ahmadinejad?

I don't think pronouncements by international bodies amount to much, either way. Certainly I support multilateral action against people like Saddam where needed, but I don't think simply issuing condemnations is worth very much. Such actions are better off coordinated by countries outside of the framework of the UN or in international bodies with a more specific purpose (i.e. NATO).

And I'm interested in you saying that you'd favour the US leaving the UN. How would that work? Who would provide Israel with her much needed vetoes if the US wasn't there?

What else will the UN do? More pronouncements and codemnations, perhaps? Who cares? What does it matter? The UN is almost meaningless.


Kilamxx,

Sorry. I'm not going to discuss this issue with you any further. I'm not a conspiracy theory buff. It doesn't interest me. I will say one last word: If Osama didn't make the video he could have disavowed by now on one of his other videos he regularly send to al-Jazeera and other media outlets. He hasn't. Basic logic should tell you something.

 
At 8:23 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

Just a reminder, from Jihad historian Andrew Bostom, that the Muslims have always hated the Americans - even when we were an internationally unimportant country back in the 1780s:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=22314

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger Kel said...

Hi Tommy, sorry it's been a few days since I've been on here.

*My condemnation of the United Nations hardly rests on its stance toward Israel alone. The United Nations has been involved in numerous scandals such as the sexual abuse of children in Africa and the Oil-for-Food Program*

The scandals at the Oil for Food programe mostly involved American companies; and, it has been suggested, with the connivance of their government.

*its history of peacekeeping is of dubious success;*

It was set up to prevent a Third World War. It has been an unquestionable success in that regard. It's not a success in the eyes of Americans like yourself who seem to think it's there simply to rubber stamp American wars of aggression.

*I don't think pronouncements by international bodies amount to much, either way. Certainly I support multilateral action against people like Saddam where needed, but I don't think simply issuing condemnations is worth very much.*

The question is actually whether you believe in international law or not? It's a yes or no. I think you are fudging on this point.

Israel is currently outside of international law, which doesn't appear to bother you. Yet, when Saddam is outside of international law, that appears to bother you a lot.

Are you playing with a level playing field or are you making the rules up as you go along?

*Such actions are better off coordinated by countries outside of the framework of the UN or in international bodies with a more specific purpose (i.e. NATO).*

Is this a clever attempt to lead me into a corner regarding Clinton's illegal actions towards the former Yugoslavia?

*The UN is almost meaningless.*

Why do you give yourself the out of "almost?" I think that's the crux of your hypocrisy. It's meaningless when it doesn't say what you want it to say. At all other times your country demands that it's resolutions be upheld.

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Tommy said...

Hi Kel,

Thanks again for your comments and questoins.

The scandals at the Oil for Food programe mostly involved American companies

I have no doubt that plenty of American firms were involved, especially given that 40% of oil being exported under the Oil-For-Food was to the US and US companies probably were involved in an even larger share of exports but jeez, where is the oversight? If the UN can't manage to effectively oversee a program of this nature, then what good is the UN? The fact that the United Nations can't police this sort of stuff makes it next to useless in administering a program like this.

It was set up to prevent a Third World War. It has been an unquestionable success in that regard.

This is unfounded. What potential "World War" situation has the United Nations ever diffused? I understand the classic argument that an international body like the United Nations is supposed to prevent the sort of thing we saw in WW1 or WW2. The fact is, though, that if the United Nations had been around during the 1930s, I don't believe they would have been any more successful in preventing the militarization of Germany than the European powers of the time proved to be. The UN usually isn't greater than the sum of its constituent nations, unfortunately. The fact that they often have such difficulty in resolving in small localized conflicts leads me to conclude they couldn't handle a truly global one.

The question is actually whether you believe in international law or not? It's a yes or no.

Sure, I suppose I support internationa law, provided it is applied fairly. The question is whether or not the United Nations is even-handed in dispensing its pronouncements regarding what is acceptable or unacceptable. Does it apply international law fairly? The answer is clearly 'no'.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=20426
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=7631
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=7142

Besides, what can you say about a body that gives Iran a spot on its nuclear disarmament commission: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060428/ap_on_re_mi_ea/un_iran_israel_1
or provides unrepentant terrorists with awards : http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=20274&only
or when it gives the world's worst human rights abusers in the world a spot on its human rights commission: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=19417&only
or wastes a half-billion dollars in overhead trying to administer tsunami relief: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=18678&only
or tries to insert itself in the cartoon controversy: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=18508&only
or needs to spend $1.6 billion on a headquarters: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=18287&only
or gives Robert Mugabe a warm welcome: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=17903&only
or cannot even keep the peace in Haiti because UN forces are not "scary" enough: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=16431&only
or misplaces critical and sensitive documents regarding nuclear technology (whoops):
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1502378,00.html

That is to say nothing of its numerous criminal and financial scandals.

Yet, when Saddam is outside of international law, that appears to bother you a lot.

Yes, a perfect situation where the United Nations was willing to do nothing about Saddam's numerous violations. The situation was ultimately settled unilaterally by the US and a few allies.

Here is a story for you:
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=15161


Are you playing with a level playing field or are you making the rules up as you go along?

No, that would be the United Nations.

Is this a clever attempt to lead me into a corner regarding Clinton's illegal actions towards the former Yugoslavia?

Illegal actions!?! I rarely hear Muslims complain about Clinton's actions regarding Yugoslavia. That is a first. Am I to take it, that you were a non-interventionist in both the Bosnian and Kosovo conflicts, or just one or the other? Would you have preferred that nobody intervene in these conflicts or were you simply willing to wait around for the toothless UN to get involved?

Another story:
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=7286

The point I was making is that I believe that international organizations that have a specific purpose - such as a military alliance like NATO in the case of defense - are a better alternative than a multifaceted monster organization like the UN. NATO only has a single purpose: handling military matters among its members. They don't try and alleviate hunger or provide polio vaccinations. That isn't their purpose. I would like to other organizations kind of like NATO (but involving more nations) but having non-military spheres of activity: like health care (vaccinations, eradicating diseases, etc.), alleviating hunger in the Third World, providing primary education in the Third World, promoting human and civil rights, and so on and so forth. I believe that organizatons focusing on only a single core area are more likely to meet their objectives than an unaccountable behemoth like the UN.

Why do you give yourself the out of "almost?" I think that's the crux of your hypocrisy.

The United Nations is a diverse agency handling many tasks. I cannot say they've never managed to do anything right. They are involved not only in diplomatic and military issues; they also take on issues like refugees, health issues, and poverty. I think you would agree with me that the UN's handling of Palestinian refugees probably hasn't been ideal (to say the least). Still, I think you would also admit that the UN's response is better than nothing. That is the "almost" I speak of. They do a lot of things, they just don't do them particularly well. I think their are better solutions than the UN.

 

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