Lebanon: ecological disaster in Mediterranean

This video says about itself:

7 January 2010

A short film about the giant green sea turtles of Marsa Abu Dabbab found in the Red Sea, Egypt. Director Hannah Wise shot the entire film using the Cannon IXUS 100IS (from Cameras Underwater).

Associated Press reports:

Environmental Disaster Looms

Oil spill threatens Mediterranean after power plant hit

Cleanup along Lebanon‘s coast can’t begin until fighting ends

by Bassem Mroue

BEIRUT — Endangered turtles die shortly after hatching from their eggs.

Fish float dead off the coast. Flaming oil sends waves of black smoke toward the city.

In this country of Mediterranean beaches and snow-capped mountains, Israeli bombing that caused an oil spill has created an environmental disaster.

And cleanup can’t start until the fighting stops, the United Nations said.

Pools of oil disfigure a beach in the bay of Byblos, 42 kms north of Beirut.

Lebanon’s greens launched an international appeal for help to combat an environmental crisis caused by a huge oil spill south of Beirut, more than two weeks into an Israeli air war.

World attention has focused on the hundreds of people who have died in the three-week-old conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

The environmental damage has attracted little attention but experts warn the long-term effects could be devastating.

Some 110,000 barrels of oil poured into the Mediterranean two weeks ago after Israeli warplanes hit a coastal power plant.

One tank is still burning, sending clouds of thick black smoke across Lebanon.

Bush and Lebanon war, cartoon

Israel: anti war demonstration in Tel Aviv.

Israel and environmentalism: here.

Iraq: very big anti war demonstration.

US made cluster bombs in Lebanon: here.

Cluster bombs in Lebanon: here.

Sea fishing in Lebanon: here.

And here.

German troops to Lebanon and Green party: here.

23 thoughts on “Lebanon: ecological disaster in Mediterranean

  1. Dear friends,
    We haven’t been in touch very often since our work around Iraq. But with civilians in Israel and Lebanon dying daily, we’re at another critical global moment.

    Regional and global leaders continue to fail to come up with a workable plan to stop the violence in the Middle East. Our friends at the Ceasefire Campaign are urging people around the world to pressure the Security Council to come up with a real plan to get an immediate ceasefire and international peacekeepers. This is a sensible call that would curb the bloodshed while laying the groundwork for a more enduring peace.

    The Ceasefire Campaign is looking for 1 million co-sponsors to deliver their petition to the Security Council this week. Can you join them? Sign here:


    –Eli Pariser

    P.S. Here’s a message from the Ceasefire Campaign with some more detail:

    Dear friends,

    For more than three weeks now we’ve watched the bloodshed in the Middle East with horror. All the while, global and regional leaders have stood by and failed to take the necessary action to stop the violence. Finally, this weekend, the US and France reached agreement on a plan. But this compromise plan fails to call for a full ceasefire and is so weak that the violence has not—and will not—stop.


    This is unacceptable. Hundreds of innocent civilians have already been killed, thousands have been wounded, and almost a million people have been made homeless.

    The UN Security Council will be meeting early this week to try to resolve the crisis. They need to know that the world is watching them, and that anything less than an immediate ceasefire is not good enough. Click here to sign this petition demanding that the members of the UN Security Council take immediate action to end this bloodshed.


    Please sign the petition today, and then spread the word by forwarding this email on to all your friends and family. Our goal is to deliver a petition to the Security Council with 1 million signatures this week, and to publicize the petition in major newspapers in the capitals of the US, UK, France and other Security Council members.

    Thanks so much for your help,

    Ricken Patel

    P.S. Groups and leaders from across the world and from diverse perspectives agree that an urgent ceasefire is an important part of resolving this crisis. Most countries of the world, from Lebanon to Tanzania to India, have called for a ceasefire, and have been joined by major international NGOs such as Oxfam and Amnesty International. Christian leaders such as Pope Benedict XVI, and the World Council of Churches have also called for a ceasefire. Arab and Muslim organizations such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference have also been joined by Israeli and Jewish groups such as Meretz Israel, Degel HaTorah, and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom in calling for a ceasefire.


    Subscription Management:
    This is a message from MoveOn.org Civic Action. To change your email address, update your contact info, or remove yourself from this list, please visit our subscription management page at:



    Late on Memorial Day we met at the graveyard’s wrought-iron door;
    I’m one hundred percent disabled, she – a young widow-of-war
    (Of the last war, very likely, twenty three/four, couldn’t be more).

    Had we met at roulette, exchanging a glance –
    The rest of my nights I’d have staked all on a chance,
    Had we met, moonlight led, at an occult séance –
    I’d have spent all my days in deep joyous trance.
    Had we met on the floor of a jazz ballet class –
    I’d have whirled away my life in everlasting dance.

    But it was in a graveyard we came face to face
    Thus my heart goes forever wandering off to that place –
    Dark silence. No breath. Our backs rest in peaceful green hair.
    And from fertile earth rises warm misty air

    …“Am I not an almost perfect Israeli lover?”
    I enquire, eyes twinkling, in self-assured undertone –
    “You’re one-hundred-percent!” she laughs, reassuring,
    “Just don’t go tell it to them tombstones!”


    Translated by the poet


  3. While the government gave the green light to intensifiying and prolonging the war for weeks or months, today at 6pm a Stop the War demo was called opposite the Defence Ministry in Tel-Aviv. It was initiated by selective refusers (Ometz Lesarev) as an effort to unite those who opposed the war from the start with those who feel that now is the time to stop it. We will be there.

    Gush Shalom’s daily anti-war paid ads can be read also on http://www.gush-shalom.org. NB: Thanks to those of you who understood that we need your donations now more than ever.

    Also on the site: Uri Avnery’s extra frequent war commentaries. The latest follows in which Avnery is longing back for … guess whom.

    See also: Twelve arrested during protest against war crimes at Air Force base
    Decision to expand ground war shatters political consensus

    Uri Avnery

    Who? Me?!
    עברית מצורפת

    TODAY, THE war entered its fifth week. Hard to believe: our mighty army has now been fighting for 29 days against a “gang” and “terrorist organization”, as the military commanders like to describe them, and the battle has still not been decided.

    Yesterday, military sources in Israel announced that 400 of the 1200 Hizbullah “terrorists” have been killed. That’s to say, a mere 1200 fighters have been standing against the tens of thousands of our soldiers, who are equipped with the most advanced weapons on earth, and hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens are still under rocket fire while our soldiers continue to be killed.

    WHO? ME? Now everybody already admits that something basic has gone wrong in this war. The proof: the War of the Generals, that previously started only after the conclusion of a war, has now become public while the war is still going on.

    The Chief-of-Staff, Dan Halutz, has found the culprit: Udi Adam, the chief of the Northern Command. He has practically dismissed him in the middle of the battle. That is the old ploy of the thief shouting “Stop thief!” After all, it is obvious that the person mainly to blame for the failures of the war is Halutz himself, with his foolish belief that Hisbullah could be defeated by aerial bombardment alone.

    But it is not only at the top of the army that mutual accusations are flying around. The army command accuses the government, which is retaliating in kind.

    On the eve of his downgrading, Udi Adam publicly accused the government of tying his hands. Meaning: the government is guilty. Ehud Olmert did not remain silent and declared that the army had not submitted any plans for widening the campaign. That’s to say: if you are incompetent, don’t blame me!

    To justify himself, Olmert added a significant sentence: “From the first day of the war, the government has not refused the army a single request!” In other words, it is the Chief-of-Staff who makes policy and conducts the war, while the political leadership just rubber stamps everything that the army “requests”.

    But this is a sterile debate, because it ignores the main fact, which is becoming clearer from day to day: it is altogether impossible to win this war. That’s why nothing is working as planned.

    PLAN? WHAT PLAN? Years ago the military commentator of Haolam Hazeh, the magazine I was editing at the time, got fed up with the boast the our army excels in improvisation. “The ability to improvise,” he wrote, “Is just another name for our inability to plan.”

    According to the reports, the Israeli army has been preparing for this war for more than three years. The last exercise took place a month before the war started and included the invasion of Lebanon by land forces. It is clear that the command did not anticipate a campaign that would last for four weeks and more. What the hell! After all, it was against a small gang of terrorists. This just confirms the dictum that even the best war plan does not survive the first day of war.

    THE WAR OF THE POOR. It is quite clear that the army command’s wonderful plan did not include the defense of the rear within rocket range. There was no plan for the solution of the hundred and one problems emanating from the attack on Hizbullah: from the protection of the civilian population from thousands of missiles to the necessary economic arrangements when a third of the country’s population is living under bombardment and is paralysed.

    Now the public is crying out, and soon the ministers and generals will have to try to find somebody to blame for that, too.

    For this war is being fought on the backs of the weak, who cannot afford to “evacuate themselves” from the rockets’ area. The rich and well-to-do have got out long ago – in Israel as well as in Lebanon. The poor, the old, the sick and the handicapped remain in the shelters. They are the main sufferers. But that does not cause them to oppose the war. On the contrary, they are the most vociferous group in Israel demanding “to go to the end”, “to smash them”, “to wipe them out”.

    That is not new, either: the weakest in society always want to feel that they belong to the strongest nation. Those who have nothing become the biggest patriots. And they are also the main victims.

    Those who initiated and planned the war cynically flatter the inhabitants of the North, who are stuck there, calling them “heroes” and lauding their “wonderful steadfastness”.

    UNITED CYNICS. Now the end of the killing depends on the UN.

    David Ben-Gurion called it contemptuously “UNO-SHMUNO” (UM-SHMUM in Hebrew). In the 1948 war, he violated its cease-fire resolutions whenever it suited him (as a soldier I took part in some of these actions). He and all his successors over the years have violated almost all the UN decisions concerning us, arguing (not without justification) that the organization was dominated by an automatic anti-Israeli majority, consisting of the Soviet bloc and Third World countries.

    Since then, the situation has changed. The Soviet bloc has collapsed and the UN has become an arm of the US State department. Kofi Annan has become a janitor and the real boss is the US delegate, John Bolton, a raving neo-con and therefore a great friend of Israel. He wants the war to go on.

    The name of the American game is: to give the Israeli army more days, and perhaps more weeks, to go on with the war, to pursue the mirage of victory, while pretending to make great efforts to stop the war. It seems that Olmert has promised Bush to win after all, if given time.

    The new proposals of the Beirut government have lit red lights in Jerusalem. The Lebanese government proposes to deploy 15 thousand Lebanese troops along the border, declare a cease-fire and get the Israeli troops out of Lebanon. That is exactly what the Israeli government demanded at the start of the war. But now it looks like a danger. It could stop the war without an Israeli victory.

    Thus a paradoxical situation has arisen: the Israeli government is rejecting a proposal that reflects its original war aims, and instead demands the deployment of an international force, which it objected to strenuously at the start of the war. That’s what happens when you start a war without clear and achievable aims. Everything gets mixed up.

    GENERALS AND COMMENTATORS. I have a proposal to solve all the problems caused by this war: to switch the generals and the commentators.

    The generals have not excelled in conducting the war. But they and their comrades, the ex-generals, have proved themselves excellent commentators. They have crowded everyone else out of the studios, created a national consensus and silenced all real criticism. (Except one sort of criticism: Why do we not advance deeper into Lebanon? Why haven’t we reached the Litani? Why don’t we go beyond the Litani? Why don’t we eradicate the Lebanese villages from the face of the earth?)

    On the other side, the broadcasts prove that the military commentators know exactly how to wage the war. They have forceful opinions and plenty of expert advice. They know when to advance and where, which troops to deploy and what weapons to use.

    So why not let them conduct the war?

    MACHOSTAN. The battery of generals that appears every evening on all TV channels in order to give a “briefing” (a.k.a. propaganda) to the nation, are all male. They bring with them a token woman, a real beauty who bears the title of “army spokesperson” and serves mostly for diversification. The commentators on TV are, of course, tough guys, and so are almost all the other speakers.

    The rule of males is underlined by the fact that the Foreign Ministry is headed by a woman. Since the foundation of Israel, the Ministry of Defense has been the realm of he-men, who look with disdain upon the Foreign Office, which is always considered feeble and effete. Now, too, the Foreign Office is a sickly limb of the “defense establishment”. Tsipi Livni, who once aroused hopes, is a parrot of the army – as Condoleezza Rice is the parrot of Bush.

    War is, of course, a matter for men. That’s how it was from the beginning of the human race, and perhaps even before. A tribe of baboons, for example, when faced with danger, automatically adopts a defensive formation: old males, women and children in the center, young males in a circle around them. There is only one difference between them und us: their leader is always the wisest and most experienced of the tribe.

    The love of the human male for war – a phenomenon we have had the opportunity to observe from close up these last few days – is connected not only with this biological heritage. War assures the total dominance of the males over society. It also assures the total dominance of the generals over the state.

    If we believed that that would change with a government headed by civilians, we were obviously wrong. The opposite is true: the civilians who pose as war-leaders are no better then the generals. A veteran general might even have learned something from his experience.

    I am going now to say something I did not think I would ever utter: It is quite possible that we would not have slid into this foolish war if Ariel Sharon were in charge. Fact: he did not attack Hizbullah after the withdrawal in 2000. One attempt was enough for him. Which proves again that there is nothing so bad that something worse cannot be found.

    The lust for war also explains the talking choir of the hundreds of ex-generals, who think and talk in unison in favor of the war. A cynic would say: what’s the big deal, after all it’s the army that gave them their standing in society. They are important only as long as the conflict between Israel and the Arab world continues. The conflict guarantees their status. They have no interest whatsoever in its resolution.

    But the phenomenon is more profound. The army is the crucible for senior officers. It shapes their world outlook, their attitude and style. Apart from the settlers, the senior officers’ corps – in and out of uniform – is today the only ideological party in Israel and therefore has a huge influence. It can easily gobble up a thousand little functionaries like Amir Peretz before breakfast.

    This is why there is no real self-criticism. At the beginning of the fifth week, the slogans are again: Forwards! To the Litani! Further! Stronger! Deeper!

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  4. Ceasefire on paper, fire on the ground

    TOI-Billboard, August 12, 2006
    –The Other Israel’s weekly comment
    –Overview of this week’s Occupation Magazine’s daily picks attached

    So, it goes on.

    For the past week and more we had lived under the illusion that when the UN Security Council solemnly resolves to cease the fire, the fire will indeed cease. The media certainly helped create this feeling, reporting extensively and minutely on the the ups and downs of the negotiations between the French and the Americans. And when on Friday the news from New York told of an approaching breakthrough, commentators started talking of the war as if it already were a thing of the past. And a great variety of nationalists and demagogues started crying and howling over “the surrender” and “the betrayal”.

    They could have saved their breath. Olmert and his Defence Minister Amir Peretz heard last night’s news from New York while closeted in the Army’s Supreme Headquarters, with the generals making the final preparations for what seems the biggest ground offensive in this war. And after midnight the headlines on the internet websites seemed taken directly from Orwell: “Government to approve UN Ceasefire resolution, major ground offensive into Lebanon goes ahead on schedule”.

    Looking carefully at the text approved at that hallowed hall of international diplomacy, things become a bit clearer. For the framers of that new UN Security Council Resolution, 1701 (a number which we will undoubtedly hear quoted ad nauseam in the coming weeks and months) – have left a loophole in their “cessation of hostilities”. Or rather a gaping opening wide enough to allow the passage of hundreds of tanks and fighter airplanes and tens of thousands of soldiers, the full four divisions reported to be now charging northwards.

    The fifteen members of the Security Council have solemnly and unanimously determined that “the situation in Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security” and therefore called for “the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations”. However, as anybody knows who had ever attended a lesson in Basic Civics at a Tel-Aviv elementary school, the Israeli Defence Forces never have and never will conduct any offensive military operation. Each and every one of their operations, in this war as in its predecessors, is purely defensive and is conducted solely in order to defend a peace-loving population against unprovoked aggression, for which reason the IDF coat of arms is the Sword and Olive Branch, and third grade pupils are required to paste that coat of arms in their copybooks and write under it the caption “our army hates war and wants only peace”.

    So, it continues. The number of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon has tripled in the past twenty-four hours, according to Chief of Staff Halutz, all of course involved in the purely defensive race to conquer all the territory up to the Litani River, which the generals expect to take “four days to a week” and then involve “several weeks of mopping up” (not that the army was very effective in “mopping up” the limited parts of Lebanon which it already invaded two and three weeks ago). So far, at least 19 people are reported killed since the diplomats affixed their signatures to that solemn document, and a Lebanese contact just informed us that the villages east of Saida, left untouched since the war broke out, had today gotten a lethal “visit” from the Israeli Air Force.

    And so, we must continue as well. A few hours from now, there will be hundreds of us answering the call of Yesh Gvul to climb the hill overlooking Military Prison 6 at Atlit, shouting words of greetings and solidarity and warm support into the plainly visible prison courtyard – to the five soldiers who preferred imprisonment over participation in the Lebanese folly and madness, and also for their fellow-prisoners and guards. Climbing that hill is a tradition dating back to the First Lebanon War, a tradition which it seems we need to revive, like so much else.

    At least, the stifling atmosphere of “national unity” which characterized the past weeks seems to have decisively dissipated. “The Big Three” of Israeli literature – “Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman – have come out against the war, three weeks after they had endorsed it in public. (Some 60 younger authors, who opposed the war from the first minute, had been constantly snapping at these three’s heels). Also, the magnitude of the Lebanon invasion and its similarity to the fiasco of 1982 (except that the guerrillas now seem much better organized and armed…) at last nudged mainstream groups such as Peace Now and the Meretz Party out of their complacency and the “support from the left” which many of their leaders gave to this vicious war on its inception. On Thursday they were in their hundreds in front of the Ministry of Defence, with big signs reading “There is No Military Solution!”, and cracks start to appear in the Labor Party support for the mad careering of Party Leader and Defence Minister Amir Peretz – once a staunch dove and militant trade unionist, now the the most hawkish of hawks.

    As things stand, it seems that all of us – radicals and moderates, those who opposed the madness from its inception and the latecomers – will still have to go and protest again and again. And meanwhile, the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians are still there, to any who tended to forget. Yesterday afternoon, the weekly anti-Wall procession at Bil’in was viciously attacked by the army and Border Guard troops. Limor, a young Israeli activist, was hit in the head by one of the misnamed “rubber bullets” – which is actually made of metal. After emergency surgery at Tel-Hashomer hospital, he is now under medically induced coma, and only when he wakes up will it be possible to asses the permanent damage. Due to Lebanon, the case got very meagre media attention; updates will appear on the International Solidarity Movement website http://www.palsolidarity.org

    Occupation Magazine

    http://www.kibush.co.il/ (articles and action news, look at it daily – includes a useful archive)

    ISM website

    http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/ (informing especially about joint Palestinian-Israeli-international anti-Wall struggle in the villages)

    Robert Rosenberg’s summary of “peace” issues in the Israeli media

    http://www.ariga.com/ (on workdays)

    http://www.theheadlines.org/ (a variety of papers, followed dayly by Shadi Fadda)

    http://electronicintifada.net/new.shtml (Palestinian press agency, including own research)

    http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php (Palestinian on-line News agency that publishes news and articles in English from it’s own as well as other sources, including from the Hebrew press)

    TOI-Billboard current issue http://toibillboard.info/index.htm
    TOI-Billboard archive http://archives.zinester.com/93796

    TOI-Billboard is the ‘ezine’ of the independent THE OTHER ISRAEL bi-monthly peace newsletter, existing since 1983, and published by its editors Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt.

    NB: The Other Israel May issue is now online with a selection of the articles:


  5. US ‘knew of Israel bombing plan’

    Israel and the United States were in close contact about Israel’s war on
    Hezbollah long before it began, a US investigative journalist has claimed.

    “Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah, and shared it with Bush
    administration officials, well before” 12 July, Seymour Hersh wrote.

    The article in the New Yorker magazine relies on many anonymous sources
    and includes denials from US officials.

    It does not claim that the US put Israel up to attacking Hezbollah.

    Seymour Hersh is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, whose past work
    includes exposing the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and Vietnam’s My Lai

    ‘Pre-emptive visit’

    Israel’s “immediate security issues were reason enough to confront
    Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush administration wanted,” Mr Hersh
    cites “Israeli military and intelligence experts” as saying.

    We did not plan the campaign – the decision was forced on us
    Israeli foreign ministry spokesman

    But, Hersh says, Israeli officials visited Washington to secure US support
    for its plans before Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on 12 July, the
    ostensible cause of the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

    “Israel began with [Vice-President Dick] Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it
    had his support and the support of … the National Security Council,” an
    unnamed US government consultant told Mr Hersh.

    With Mr Cheney’s backing secured, “persuading [President] Bush was
    never a problem, and [Secretary of State] Condi Rice was on board,” the
    source added.

    Convergent interests

    Israel’s plan for an air war to turn the Lebanese people against Hezbollah
    was “the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for
    Iran,” the article quotes an unnamed former senior intelligence official as

    And different US government departments which do not always see eye-to-
    eye all had their own reasons for backing an Israeli assault on Hezbollah,
    Mr Hersh claims.

    The State Department reportedly saw it as “a way to strengthen the
    Lebanese government”, which does not control the south of the country
    dominated by Hezbollah.

    The White House wanted Hezbollah’s missiles eliminated so they could not
    be used as retaliation against Israel in case the US bombed Iran’s nuclear
    facilities, Mr Hersh says.

    But both the Pentagon and the National Security Council deny that the US
    knew of Israel’s plans in advance.

    Meanwhile, an Israeli embassy spokesman said Israel “did not plan the
    campaign” to attack Hezbollah, adding: “The decision was forced on us.”

    Ward Carroll, a retired US Navy officer and editor Military.com, was
    sceptical of some of Mr Hersh’s claims.

    Israel would not have relied on any American intelligence or support in its
    campaign, he told the BBC.

    “If the inference is that we are fundamentally interwoven [in the Israeli air
    campaign], that is a flawed thesis,” Mr Carroll said.

    He did not doubt that there had been communication between the US and
    Israel, but suggested Mr Hersh was reading too much into it.

    “This would have been a courtesy brief [from Israel to the United States],
    and the Bush administration saying, ‘We got the message.'”
    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2006/08/14 23:17:16 GMT

    © BBC MMVI


  6. Well versed
    (Thursday 17 August 2006)
    POETRY: Poem of the week
    edited by JOHN RETY
    Whose Child? by Eve Pearce

    Whose child is this, lying by the roadside?
    Is it Arab or Israeli?
    Lebanese or Iranian?
    Palestinian – Iraqi?
    Dead or alive?
    Is it a zionist zealot –
    a member of Hezbollah?

    This child has not yet learnt
    there is no God but Allah.
    He has no use for an eye for an eye,
    a tooth for a tooth.
    Whose child is this?

    For unto us a child is born.

    When he grows up will he attain paradise
    in an instant? Will the virgins be waiting?
    Meanwhile he has no mother to suckle him —
    to be proud when he straps on the martyr’s belt.

    For unto us a son is given.
    A son – is given – unto us.

    Whose child is this?

    About the poet
    Eve Pearce was born in Aberdeen and brought up until she was 12 in one room in a tenement.

    When she was seven, her mother died. Her father married again when she was 12 and she went to live in London. She has been an actress all her life and is still in demand.

    She started to write poetry about five years ago. Whose Child is her response to the events in the Middle East, which have made her, in common with many others, feel angry and helpless.

    • John Rety of Hearing Eye Press and Torriano Meeting House is a former editor of anarchist paper Freedom.


    source: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index2.php/free/culture/arts/well_versed


  7. Doves of prey

    TOI-Billboard, August 20, 2006
    The Other Israel’s email updates

    — Introduction
    –TOI’s selection of this week’s Occupation Magazine’s daily picks
    N.B. today’s Occ. Magazine update was edited by Adam Keller) http://www.kibush.co.il/ (also attached)

    Upon the ceasefire, in Israel war euphoria turned into a pandemonium of recriminations – in the media, but also in many overheard discussions of “men in the street.” The Army Chief-of-Staff was found out to have sold his stocks just before giving orders to the grand attack against Lebanon. But not only his career is at stake, also those of Defence Minister Peretz, and PM Olmert. The threatened trio decided yesterday upon another gamble to cover their losses: a provocative commando raid deep in Lebanon, not really gaining them much “glory.”
    Meanwhile, the anti-war coalition is trying to get the attention back to that underreported bloodletting in Gaza – and also quite some in the West Bank – which continued and continues day after day.

    Doves of prey
    B. Michael – YNET – “Israel`s belligerent doves should pause to ponder one small question: If they – famous peace lovers – have turned into doves of prey after deaths of 100 Israelis, then what do they suppose is going through the minds of doves, hawks alike who have suffered 1,000 casualties, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, and scores of pounded villages?”

    From City to Town to Village, Israeli `Summer Rains` Continue to fall on Gaza
    Rami Almeghari — IMEMC News — “According to the latest Palestinian Health Ministry reports, since the June 26 military attack codenamed `Summer Rains` has begun, the Israeli occupation army has killed 203 Palestinians, including 58 children and 25 women, and wounded 783 others, including 281 children, and 86 women. 72 of the injured have had limbs amputated”

    Weekly Digest: Reports from Checkpoints, 6.8.06–12.8.06
    MachsomWatch — Military Court Ofer, Monday, 7.8.06: ?One of the fringe benefits of observing in the military court is to witness the bursts of joy of the prisoners when they can see their family members for the short time of their hearing. It is the only opportunity they have to exchange some words, some news, some smiles and to receive encouragement [?] Sometimes it seems that the prisoners are less interested in their trial than in the conversations with their family [?] Given the complete lack of influence the prisoners have on the outcome of their case, this is not surprising?

    Deepening the fault lines
    Omar Yousef Shehabi – The Electronic Intifada – “Olmert and Bush know that the Israeli public has lost its nerve and its stomach for a unilateral withdrawal from one inch of the West Bank.”

    3 Palestinian Civilians Killed and 3 Others Wounded by IOF in the Northern Gaza Strip
    PCHR – Detailed description of the chain of events leading to the army shooting at a civilian unarmed crowd, killing three.

    We told Olmert the army is hollow
    Akiva Eldar – Haaretz – “This was not the first time Olmert had heard the army is not properly prepared for war.”

    Nasrallah didn`t mean to
    Amira Hass – Haaretz – ” What is permitted to us is forbidden to others. What hurts us does not hurt others (because they are “other”).”

    Hezbollah gaining strength where democracy once dwelt
    Rashid Khalidi – Chicago Tribune -“The Israeli government and the Bush administration both suffer from the foolish illusion (one easy to understand among warmongers in Washington who have never been near a battlefield) that war is the solution to problems in the Middle East. The idea that Arabs understand only force, which underlies American and Israeli policies, is racist and profoundly mistaken. As long as such dangerous illusions reign, innocents will continue to die in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Israel.” http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=15811

    Talking only to ourselves
    Daniel Ben Simon – Haaretz – “Instead of speaking with our enemies we speak with our friends, not to say our patrons, the Americans, as though we were lowly vassals. We have adopted English almost as a mother tongue and we relate to Arabic as almost an existential threat. Thus far, the subordination of our lives, our values and our future to the Americans has not proved itself. We have never been as insecure as we are today. As part of our despair we are surrounding ourselves with a wall and turning the symbol of national rebirth into a fortified Jewish ghetto closed on all sides.”

    American support may no longer be enough
    Martin Jacques — The Guardian — Israel`s long-term future lies in connecting with its Arab neighbours, not a western superpower thousands of miles away

    Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory No. 32/2006, 10– 16 Aug. 2006

    The war to end the war
    Yehonatan Gefen – Maariv – “How much time did our leaders, the deep thinkers, spend in asking themselves whether we would really achieve something by starting this war? How much? Thirty seconds? Five minutes? When you buy yourself a new t-shirt or decide which film to see tonight, you spend more time on thinking.”

    Class war in the IDF
    Staff Sgt. (res.) Ori Berzak – Haaretz – “On the hills covered in pine and cypress trees in Israel, the fighting class is burying its dead and licking its wounds. The commanding class is granting another interview to reporters and waiting for the findings of the committees of inquiry.”

    Not Sparta – and just as well
    Doron Rosenblum – Haaretz – “Israel is not Sparta, and this is a good thing. It was not established in order to be a spearhead against global Islam, or in order to serve as an alert squad for the Western world.”

    Occupation Magazine

    http://www.kibush.co.il/ (articles and action news, look at it daily – includes a useful archive)

    ISM website

    http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/ (informing especially about joint Palestinian-Israeli-international anti-Wall struggle in the villages)

    Robert Rosenberg’s summary of “peace” issues in the Israeli media

    http://www.ariga.com/ (on workdays)

    http://www.theheadlines.org/ (a variety of papers, followed dayly by Shadi Fadda)

    http://electronicintifada.net/new.shtml (Palestinian press agency, including own research)

    http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php (Palestinian on-line News agency that publishes news and articles in English from it’s own as well as other sources, including from the Hebrew press)

    TOI-Billboard current issue http://toibillboard.info/index.htm
    TOI-Billboard archive http://archives.zinester.com/93796

    TOI-Billboard is the ‘ezine’ of the independent THE OTHER ISRAEL bi-monthly peace newsletter, existing since 1983, and published by its editors Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt.

    NB: The Other Israel May issue is now online with a selection of the articles:

    For a one time hard-copy (free sample), send your address to: otherisr@actcom.co.il,
    US addresses to: aicipp@igc.org

    Visit also the archive under construction of issues since 1994


  8. What Can Israel Achieve?
    by Immanuel Wallerstein

    (Commentary No. 190)

    What Can Israel Achieve?

    The State of Israel was established in 1948. Ever since, there has been continuous violence between Jews and Arabs in Israel, and between Israel and its neighbors. Sometimes, the violence was low-level and even latent. And every once in a while, the violence escalated into open warfare, as now. Whenever full- scale violence broke out, there was an immediate debate about what started it, as though that mattered. We are now in the midst of warfare between Israel and Palestine in Gaza and between Israel and Lebanon. And the world is engaged in its usual futile debate about how to reduce the open state of warfare to low-level violence.

    Every Israeli government has wished to create a situation in which the world and Israel’s neighbors recognize its existence as a state and intergroup/interstate violence ceases. Israel has never been able to achieve this. When the level of violence is relatively low, the Israeli public is split about what strategy to pursue. But when it escalates into warfare, the Jewish Israelis and world Jewry tend to rally around the government.

    In reality, Israel’s basic strategy since 1948 has been to rely on two things in the pursuit of its objectives: a strong military, and strong outside Western support. So far this strategy has worked in one sense: Israel still survives. The question is how much longer this strategy will in fact continue to work.

    The source of outside support has shifted over time. We forget completely that in 1948 the crucial military support for Israel came from the Soviet Union and its eastern European satellites. When the Soviet Union pulled back, it was France that came to fill the role. France was engaged in a revolution in Algeria, and it saw Israel as a crucial element in defeating the Algerian national liberation movement. But when Algeria became independent in 1962, France dropped Israel because it then sought to maintain ties with a now- independent Algeria.

    It is only after that moment that the United States moved into its present total support of Israel. One major element in this turn-around was the Israeli military victory in the Six Days War in 1967. In this war, Israel conquered all the territories of the old British Mandate of Palestine, as well as more. It proved its ability to be a strong military presence in the region. It transformed the attitude of world Jewry from one in which only about 50% really approved of the creation of Israel into one which had the support of the large majority of world Jewry, for whom Israel had now become a source of pride. This is the moment when the Holocaust became a major ideological justification for Israel and its policies.

    After 1967, the Israeli governments never felt they had to negotiate anything with the Palestinians or with the Arab world. They offered one-sided settlements but these were always on Israeli terms. Israel wouldn’t negotiate with Nasser. Then it wouldn’t negotiate with Arafat. And now it won’t negotiate with so-called terrorists. Instead, it has relied on successive shows of military strength.

    Israel is now engaged in the exact same catastrophic blunder, from its own point of view, as George Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Bush thought that a show of military strength would establish U.S. presence unquestionably in Iraq and intimidate the rest of the world. Bush has discovered that Iraqi resistance was far more formidable militarily than anticipated, that American political allies in Iraq were far less reliable than he assumed they would be, and that the U.S. public’s support of the war was far more fragile than he expected. The United States is heading towards a humiliating withdrawal from Iraq.

    Israel’s current military campaign is a direct parallel of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The Israeli generals are already noting that Hezbollah’s military is far more formidable than anticipated, that U.S. allies in the region are already taking wide distance from the United States and Israel (note the Iraqi government’s support of Lebanon and now that of the Saudi government), and soon will discover that the Israeli public’s support is more fragile than expected. Already the Israeli government is reluctant to send land troops into Lebanon, largely because of what it thinks will be the reaction of its own people inside Israel. Israel is heading towards a humiliating truce arrangement.

    What the Israeli governments do not realize is that neither Hamas nor Hezbollah need Israel. It is Israel that needs them, and needs them desperately. If Israel wants not to become a Crusader state that is in the end extinguished, it is only Hamas and Hezbollah that can guarantee the survival of Israel. It is only when Israel is able to come to terms with them, as the deeply-rooted spokespersons of Palestinian and Arab nationalism, that Israel can live in peace.

    Achieving a stable peace settlement will be extremely difficult. But the pillars of Israel’s present strategy – its own military strength and the unconditional support of the United States – constitute a very thin reed. Its military advantage is diminishing and will diminish steadily in the years to come. And in the post-Iraqi years, the United States may well drop Israel in the same way that France did in the 1960s.

    Israel’s only real guarantee will be that of the Palestinians. And to get this guarantee, Israel will need to rethink fundamentally its strategy for survival.

    Copyright by Immanuel Wallerstein, distributed by Agence Global. For rights and permissions, including translations and posting to non-commercial sites, and contact: rights@agenceglobal.com, 1.336.686.9002 or 1.336.286.6606. Permission is granted to download, forward electronically, or e-mail to others, provided the essay remains intact and the copyright note is displayed. To contact author, write: immanuel.wallerstein@yale.edu.


  9. (Seymour Hersh: The New Yorker)

    Watching Lebanon

    In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. “It’s a moment of clarification,”

    President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. “It’s now become clear why we don’t have peace in the Middle East.” He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the “root causes of instability,” and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until “the conditions are conducive.”

    The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American pre_mptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

    Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the country’s immediate security issues were reason enough to confront Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, Israel’s foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, “We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America’s requirements, that’s just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.”

    Hezbollah is seen by Israelis as a profound threat – a terrorist organization, operating on their border, with a military arsenal that, with help from Iran and Syria, has grown stronger since the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon ended, in 2000. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has said he does not believe that Israel is a “legal state.” Israeli intelligence estimated at the outset of the air war that Hezbollah had roughly five hundred medium-range Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets and a few dozen long-range Zelzal rockets; the Zelzals, with a range of about two hundred kilometres, could reach Tel Aviv. (One rocket hit Haifa the day after the kidnappings.) It also has more than twelve thousand shorter-range rockets. Since the conflict began, more than three thousand of these have been fired at Israel.

    According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah – and shared it with Bush Administration officials – well before the July 12th kidnappings. “It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,” he said, “but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.”

    The Middle East expert said that the Administration had several reasons for supporting the Israeli bombing campaign. Within the State Department, it was seen as a way to strengthen the Lebanese government so that it could assert its authority over the south of the country, much of which is controlled by Hezbollah. He went on, “The White House was more focussed on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush wanted both. Bush was going after Iran, as part of the Axis of Evil, and its nuclear sites, and he was interested in going after Hezbollah as part of his interest in democratization, with Lebanon as one of the crown jewels of Middle East democracy.”

    Administration officials denied that they knew of Israel’s plan for the air war. The White House did not respond to a detailed list of questions. In response to a separate request, a National Security Council spokesman said, “Prior to Hezbollah’s attack on Israel, the Israeli government gave no official in Washington any reason to believe that Israel was planning to attack. Even after the July 12th attack, we did not know what the Israeli plans were.” A Pentagon spokesman said, “The United States government remains committed to a diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program,” and denied the story, as did a State Department spokesman.

    The United States and Israel have shared intelligence and enjoyed close military coöperation for decades, but early this spring, according to a former senior intelligence official, high-level planners from the U.S. Air Force – under pressure from the White House to develop a war plan for a decisive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities – began consulting with their counterparts in the Israeli Air Force.

    “The big question for our Air Force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully,” the former senior intelligence official said. “Who is the closest ally of the U.S. Air Force in its planning? It’s not Congo – it’s Israel. Everybody knows that Iranian engineers have been advising Hezbollah on tunnels and underground gun emplacements. And so the Air Force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, ‘Let’s concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.’ ” The discussions reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he said.

    “The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”

    A Pentagon consultant said that the Bush White House “has been agitating for some time to find a reason for a pre_mptive blow against Hezbollah.” He added, “It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it.” (As this article went to press, the United Nations Security Council passed a ceasefire resolution, although it was unclear if it would change the situation on the ground.)

    According to Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term – and who, in 2002, said that Hezbollah “may be the A team of terrorists” – Israel’s campaign in Lebanon, which has faced unexpected difficulties and widespread criticism, may, in the end, serve as a warning to the White House about Iran. “If the most dominant military force in the region – the Israel Defense Forces – can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. “The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis.”

    Several current and former officials involved in the Middle East told me that Israel viewed the soldiers’ kidnapping as the opportune moment to begin its planned military campaign against Hezbollah. “Hezbollah, like clockwork, was instigating something small every month or two,” the U.S. government consultant with ties to Israel said. Two weeks earlier, in late June, members of Hamas, the Palestinian group, had tunnelled under the barrier separating southern Gaza from Israel and captured an Israeli soldier. Hamas also had lobbed a series of rockets at Israeli towns near the border with Gaza. In response, Israel had initiated an extensive bombing campaign and reoccupied parts of Gaza.

    The Pentagon consultant noted that there had also been cross-border incidents involving Israel and Hezbollah, in both directions, for some time. “They’ve been sniping at each other,” he said. “Either side could have pointed to some incident and said ‘We have to go to war with these guys’ – because they were already at war.”

    David Siegel, the spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said that the Israeli Air Force had not been seeking a reason to attack Hezbollah. “We did not plan the campaign. That decision was forced on us.” There were ongoing alerts that Hezbollah “was pressing to go on the attack,” Siegel said. “Hezbollah attacks every two or three months,” but the kidnapping of the soldiers raised the stakes.

    In interviews, several Israeli academics, journalists, and retired military and intelligence officers all made one point: they believed that the Israeli leadership, and not Washington, had decided that it would go to war with Hezbollah. Opinion polls showed that a broad spectrum of Israelis supported that choice. “The neocons in Washington may be happy, but Israel did not need to be pushed, because Israel has been wanting to get rid of Hezbollah,” Yossi Melman, a journalist for the newspaper Ha’aretz, who has written several books about the Israeli intelligence community, said. “By provoking Israel, Hezbollah provided that opportunity.”

    “We were facing a dilemma,” an Israeli official said. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “had to decide whether to go for a local response, which we always do, or for a comprehensive response – to really take on Hezbollah once and for all.” Olmert made his decision, the official said, only after a series of Israeli rescue efforts failed.

    The U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel told me, however, that, from Israel’s perspective, the decision to take strong action had become inevitable weeks earlier, after the Israeli Army’s signals intelligence group, known as Unit 8200, picked up bellicose intercepts in late spring and early summer, involving Hamas, Hezbollah, and Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader now living in Damascus.

    One intercept was of a meeting in late May of the Hamas political and military leadership, with Meshal participating by telephone. “Hamas believed the call from Damascus was scrambled, but Israel had broken the code,” the consultant said. For almost a year before its victory in the Palestinian elections in January, Hamas had curtailed its terrorist activities. In the late May intercepted conversation, the consultant told me, the Hamas leadership said that “they got no benefit from it, and were losing standing among the Palestinian population.” The conclusion, he said, was ” ‘Let’s go back into the terror business and then try and wrestle concessions from the Israeli government.’ ” The consultant told me that the U.S. and Israel agreed that if the Hamas leadership did so, and if Nasrallah backed them up, there should be “a full-scale response.” In the next several weeks, when Hamas began digging the tunnel into Israel, the consultant said, Unit 8200 “picked up signals intelligence involving Hamas, Syria, and Hezbollah, saying, in essence, that they wanted Hezbollah to ‘warm up’ the north.” In one intercept, the consultant said, Nasrallah referred to Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz “as seeming to be weak,” in comparison with the former Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, who had extensive military experience, and said “he thought Israel would respond in a small-scale, local way, as they had in the past.”

    Earlier this summer, before the Hezbollah kidnappings, the U.S. government consultant said, several Israeli officials visited Washington, separately, “to get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear.” The consultant added, “Israel began with Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of his office and the Middle East desk of the National Security Council.” After that, “persuading Bush was never a problem, and Condi Rice was on board,” the consultant said.

    The initial plan, as outlined by the Israelis, called for a major bombing campaign in response to the next Hezbollah provocation, according to the Middle East expert with knowledge of U.S. and Israeli thinking. Israel believed that, by targeting Lebanon’s infrastructure, including highways, fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it could persuade Lebanon’s large Christian and Sunni populations to turn against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official. The airport, highways, and bridges, among other things, have been hit in the bombing campaign. The Israeli Air Force had flown almost nine thousand missions as of last week. (David Siegel, the Israeli spokesman, said that Israel had targeted only sites connected to Hezbollah; the bombing of bridges and roads was meant to prevent the transport of weapons.)

    The Israeli plan, according to the former senior intelligence official, was “the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran.” (The initial U.S. Air Force proposals for an air attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity, which included the option of intense bombing of civilian infrastructure targets inside Iran, have been resisted by the top leadership of the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps, according to current and former officials. They argue that the Air Force plan will not work and will inevitably lead, as in the Israeli war with Hezbollah, to the insertion of troops on the ground.)

    Uzi Arad, who served for more than two decades in the Mossad, told me that to the best of his knowledge the contacts between the Israeli and U.S. governments were routine, and that, “in all my meetings and conversations with government officials, never once did I hear anyone refer to prior coördination with the United States.” He was troubled by one issue – the speed with which the Olmert government went to war. “For the life of me, I’ve never seen a decision to go to war taken so speedily,” he said. “We usually go through long analyses.”

    The key military planner was Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, the I.D.F. chief of staff, who, during a career in the Israeli Air Force, worked on contingency planning for an air war with Iran. Olmert, a former mayor of Jerusalem, and Peretz, a former labor leader, could not match his experience and expertise.

    In the early discussions with American officials, I was told by the Middle East expert and the government consultant, the Israelis repeatedly pointed to the war in Kosovo as an example of what Israel would try to achieve. The NATO forces commanded by U.S. Army General Wesley Clark methodically bombed and strafed not only military targets but tunnels, bridges, and roads, in Kosovo and elsewhere in Serbia, for seventy-eight days before forcing Serbian forces to withdraw from Kosovo. “Israel studied the Kosovo war as its role model,” the government consultant said. “The Israelis told Condi Rice, ‘You did it in about seventy days, but we need half of that – thirty-five days.’ ”

    There are, of course, vast differences between Lebanon and Kosovo. Clark, who retired from the military in 2000 and unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for the Presidency in 2004, took issue with the analogy: “If it’s true that the Israeli campaign is based on the American approach in Kosovo, then it missed the point. Ours was to use force to obtain a diplomatic objective – it was not about killing people.” Clark noted in a 2001 book, “Waging Modern War,” that it was the threat of a possible ground invasion as well as the bombing that forced the Serbs to end the war. He told me, “In my experience, air campaigns have to be backed, ultimately, by the will and capability to finish the job on the ground.”

    Kosovo has been cited publicly by Israeli officials and journalists since the war began. On August 6th, Prime Minister Olmert, responding to European condemnation of the deaths of Lebanese civilians, said, “Where do they get the right to preach to Israel? European countries attacked Kosovo and killed ten thousand civilians. Ten thousand! And none of these countries had to suffer before that from a single rocket. I’m not saying it was wrong to intervene in Kosovo. But please: don’t preach to us about the treatment of civilians.” (Human Rights Watch estimated the number of civilians killed in the NATO bombing to be five hundred; the Yugoslav government put the number between twelve hundred and five thousand.)

    Cheney’s office supported the Israeli plan, as did Elliott Abrams, a deputy national-security adviser, according to several former and current officials. (A spokesman for the N.S.C. denied that Abrams had done so.) They believed that Israel should move quickly in its air war against Hezbollah. A former intelligence officer said, “We told Israel, ‘Look, if you guys have to go, we’re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later – the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.’ ”

    Cheney’s point, the former senior intelligence official said, was “What if the Israelis execute their part of this first, and it’s really successful? It’d be great. We can learn what to do in Iran by watching what the Israelis do in Lebanon.”

    The Pentagon consultant told me that intelligence about Hezbollah and Iran is being mishandled by the White House the same way intelligence had been when, in 2002 and early 2003, the Administration was making the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. “The big complaint now in the intelligence community is that all of the important stuff is being sent directly to the top – at the insistence of the White House – and not being analyzed at all, or scarcely,” he said. “It’s an awful policy and violates all of the N.S.A.’s strictures, and if you complain about it you’re out,” he said. “Cheney had a strong hand in this.”

    The long-term Administration goal was to help set up a Sunni Arab coalition – including countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt – that would join the United States and Europe to pressure the ruling Shiite mullahs in Iran. “But the thought behind that plan was that Israel would defeat Hezbollah, not lose to it,” the consultant with close ties to Israel said. Some officials in Cheney’s office and at the N.S.C. had become convinced, on the basis of private talks, that those nations would moderate their public criticism of Israel and blame Hezbollah for creating the crisis that led to war. Although they did so at first, they shifted their position in the wake of public protests in their countries about the Israeli bombing. The White House was clearly disappointed when, late last month, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, came to Washington and, at a meeting with Bush, called for the President to intervene immediately to end the war. The Washington Post reported that Washington had hoped to enlist moderate Arab states “in an effort to pressure Syria and Iran to rein in Hezbollah, but the Saudi move . . . seemed to cloud that initiative.”

    The surprising strength of Hezbollah’s resistance, and its continuing ability to fire rockets into northern Israel in the face of the constant Israeli bombing, the Middle East expert told me, “is a massive setback for those in the White House who want to use force in Iran. And those who argue that the bombing will create internal dissent and revolt in Iran are also set back.”

    Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, the former senior intelligence official said. “There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this,” he said. “When the smoke clears, they’ll say it was a success, and they’ll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran.”

    In the White House, especially in the Vice-President’s office, many officials believe that the military campaign against Hezbollah is working and should be carried forward. At the same time, the government consultant said, some policymakers in the Administration have concluded that the cost of the bombing to Lebanese society is too high. “They are telling Israel that it’s time to wind down the attacks on infrastructure.”

    Similar divisions are emerging in Israel. David Siegel, the Israeli spokesman, said that his country’s leadership believed, as of early August, that the air war had been successful, and had destroyed more than seventy per cent of Hezbollah’s medium- and long-range-missile launching capacity. “The problem is short-range missiles, without launchers, that can be shot from civilian areas and homes,” Siegel told me. “The only way to resolve this is ground operations – which is why Israel would be forced to expand ground operations if the latest round of diplomacy doesn’t work.” Last week, however, there was evidence that the Israeli government was troubled by the progress of the war. In an unusual move, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, Halutz’s deputy, was put in charge of the operation, supplanting Major General Udi Adam. The worry in Israel is that Nasrallah might escalate the crisis by firing missiles at Tel Aviv. “There is a big debate over how much damage Israel should inflict to prevent it,” the consultant said. “If Nasrallah hits Tel Aviv, what should Israel do? Its goal is to deter more attacks by telling Nasrallah that it will destroy his country if he doesn’t stop, and to remind the Arab world that Israel can set it back twenty years. We’re no longer playing by the same rules.”

    A European intelligence officer told me, “The Israelis have been caught in a psychological trap. In earlier years, they had the belief that they could solve their problems with toughness. But now, with Islamic martyrdom, things have changed, and they need different answers. How do you scare people who love martyrdom?” The problem with trying to eliminate Hezbollah, the intelligence officer said, is the group’s ties to the Shiite population in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and Beirut’s southern suburbs, where it operates schools, hospitals, a radio station, and various charities.

    A high-level American military planner told me, “We have a lot of vulnerability in the region, and we’ve talked about some of the effects of an Iranian or Hezbollah attack on the Saudi regime and on the oil infrastructure.” There is special concern inside the Pentagon, he added, about the oil-producing nations north of the Strait of Hormuz. “We have to anticipate the unintended consequences,” he told me. “Will we be able to absorb a barrel of oil at one hundred dollars? There is this almost comical thinking that you can do it all from the air, even when you’re up against an irregular enemy with a dug-in capability. You’re not going to be successful unless you have a ground presence, but the political leadership never considers the worst case. These guys only want to hear the best case.”

    There is evidence that the Iranians were expecting the war against Hezbollah. Vali Nasr, an expert on Shiite Muslims and Iran, who is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and also teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California, said, “Every negative American move against Hezbollah was seen by Iran as part of a larger campaign against it. And Iran began to prepare for the showdown by supplying more sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah – anti-ship and anti-tank missiles – and training its fighters in their use. And now Hezbollah is testing Iran’s new weapons. Iran sees the Bush Administration as trying to marginalize its regional role, so it fomented trouble.”

    Nasr, an Iranian-American who recently published a study of the Sunni-Shiite divide, entitled “The Shia Revival,” also said that the Iranian leadership believes that Washington’s ultimate political goal is to get some international force to act as a buffer – to physically separate Syria and Lebanon in an effort to isolate and disarm Hezbollah, whose main supply route is through Syria. “Military action cannot bring about the desired political result,” Nasr said. The popularity of Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a virulent critic of Israel, is greatest in his own country. If the U.S. were to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, Nasr said, “you may end up turning Ahmadinejad into another Nasrallah – the rock star of the Arab street.”

    Donald Rumsfeld, who is one of the Bush Administration’s most outspoken, and powerful, officials, has said very little publicly about the crisis in Lebanon. His relative quiet, compared to his aggressive visibility in the run-up to the Iraq war, has prompted a debate in Washington about where he stands on the issue.

    Some current and former intelligence officials who were interviewed for this article believe that Rumsfeld disagrees with Bush and Cheney about the American role in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. The U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said that “there was a feeling that Rumsfeld was jaded in his approach to the Israeli war.” He added, “Air power and the use of a few Special Forces had worked in Afghanistan, and he tried to do it again in Iraq. It was the same idea, but it didn’t work. He thought that Hezbollah was too dug in and the Israeli attack plan would not work, and the last thing he wanted was another war on his shift that would put the American forces in Iraq in greater jeopardy.”

    A Western diplomat said that he understood that Rumsfeld did not know all the intricacies of the war plan. “He is angry and worried about his troops” in Iraq, the diplomat said. Rumsfeld served in the White House during the last year of the war in Vietnam, from which American troops withdrew in 1975, “and he did not want to see something like this having an impact in Iraq.” Rumsfeld’s concern, the diplomat added, was that an expansion of the war into Iran could put the American troops in Iraq at greater risk of attacks by pro-Iranian Shiite militias.

    At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on August 3rd, Rumsfeld was less than enthusiastic about the war’s implications for the American troops in Iraq. Asked whether the Administration was mindful of the war’s impact on Iraq, he testified that, in his meetings with Bush and Condoleezza Rice, “there is a sensitivity to the desire to not have our country or our interests or our forces put at greater risk as a result of what’s taking place between Israel and Hezbollah. . . . There are a variety of risks that we face in that region, and it’s a difficult and delicate situation.”

    The Pentagon consultant dismissed talk of a split at the top of the Administration, however, and said simply, “Rummy is on the team. He’d love to see Hezbollah degraded, but he also is a voice for less bombing and more innovative Israeli ground operations.” The former senior intelligence official similarly depicted Rumsfeld as being “delighted that Israel is our stalking horse.”

    There are also questions about the status of Condoleezza Rice. Her initial support for the Israeli air war against Hezbollah has reportedly been tempered by dismay at the effects of the attacks on Lebanon. The Pentagon consultant said that in early August she began privately “agitating” inside the Administration for permission to begin direct diplomatic talks with Syria – so far, without much success. Last week, the Times reported that Rice had directed an Embassy official in Damascus to meet with the Syrian foreign minister, though the meeting apparently yielded no results. The Times also reported that Rice viewed herself as “trying to be not only a peacemaker abroad but also a mediator among contending parties” within the Administration. The article pointed to a divide between career diplomats in the State Department and “conservatives in the government,” including Cheney and Abrams, “who were pushing for strong American support for Israel.”

    The Western diplomat told me his embassy believes that Abrams has emerged as a key policymaker on Iran, and on the current Hezbollah-Israeli crisis, and that Rice’s role has been relatively diminished. Rice did not want to make her most recent diplomatic trip to the Middle East, the diplomat said. “She only wanted to go if she thought there was a real chance to get a ceasefire.”

    Bush’s strongest supporter in Europe continues to be British Prime Minister Tony Blair, but many in Blair’s own Foreign Office, as a former diplomat said, believe that he has “gone out on a particular limb on this” – especially by accepting Bush’s refusal to seek an immediate and total ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. “Blair stands alone on this,” the former diplomat said. “He knows he’s a lame duck who’s on the way out, but he buys it” – the Bush policy. “He drinks the White House Kool-Aid as much as anybody in Washington.” The crisis will really start at the end of August, the diplomat added, “when the Iranians” – under a United Nations deadline to stop uranium enrichment – “will say no.”

    Even those who continue to support Israel’s war against Hezbollah agree that it is failing to achieve one of its main goals – to rally the Lebanese against Hezbollah. “Strategic bombing has been a failed military concept for ninety years, and yet air forces all over the world keep on doing it,” John Arquilla, a defense analyst at the Naval Postgraduate School, told me. Arquilla has been campaigning for more than a decade, with growing success, to change the way America fights terrorism. “The warfare of today is not mass on mass,” he said. “You have to hunt like a network to defeat a network. Israel focussed on bombing against Hezbollah, and, when that did not work, it became more aggressive on the ground. The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.”


  10. We want to live here in 100 years, in 500 years. Our most basic national interests demand that we extend our hands to the Arab nations that accept us, and act together with them for the rehabilitation of this region. (Avnery in ‘America’s Rottweiler’ – full text follows.)


    Uri Avnery

    America’s Rottweiler

    IN HIS latest speech, which infuriated so many people, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uttered a sentence that deserves attention: “Every new Arab generation hates Israel more than the previous one.”

    Of all that has been said about the Second Lebanon War, these are perhaps the most important words.

    The main product of this war is hatred. The pictures of death and destruction in Lebanon entered every Arab home, indeed every Muslim home, from Indonesia to Morocco, from Yemen to the Muslim ghettos in London and Berlin. Not for an hour, not for a day, but for 33 successive days – day after day, hour after hour. The mangled bodies of babies, the women weeping over the ruins of their homes, Israeli children writing “greetings” on shells about to be fired at villages, Ehud Olmert blabbering about “the most moral army in the world” while the screen showed a heap of bodies.

    Israelis ignored these sights, indeed they were scarcely shown on our TV. Of course, we could see them on Aljazeera and some Western channels, but Israelis were much too busy with the damage wrought in our Northern towns. Feelings of pity and empathy for non-Jews have been blunted here a long time ago.

    But it is a terrible mistake to ignore this result of the war. It is far more important than the stationing of a few thousand European troops along our border, with the kind consent of Hizbullah. It may still be bothering generations of Israelis, when the names Olmert and Halutz have long been forgotten, and when even Nasrallah no longer remember the name Amir Peretz.

    IN ORDER for the significance of Assad’s words to become clear, they have to be viewed in a historical context.

    The whole Zionist enterprise has been compared to the transplantation of an organ into the body of a human being. The natural immunity system rises up against the foreign implant, the body mobilizes all its power to reject it. The doctors use a heavy dosage of medicines in order to overcome the rejection. That can go on for a long time, sometimes until the eventual death of the body itself, including the transplant.

    (Of course, this analogy, like any other, should be treated cautiously. An analogy can help in understanding things, but no more than that.)

    The Zionist movement has planted a foreign body in this country, which was then a part of the Arab-Muslim space. The inhabitants of the country, and the entire Arab region, rejected the Zionist entity. Meanwhile, the Jewish settlement has taken roots and become an authentic new nation rooted in the country. Its defensive power against the rejection has grown. This struggle has been going on for 125 years, becoming more violent from generation to generation. The last war was yet another episode.

    WHAT IS our historic objective in this confrontation?

    A fool will say: to stand up to the rejection with a growing dosage of medicaments, provided by America and World Jewry. The greatest fools will add: There is no solution. This situation will last forever. There is nothing to be done about it but to defend ourselves in war after war after war. And the next war is already knocking on the door.

    The wise will say: our objective is to cause the body to accept the transplant as one of its organs, so that the immune system will no longer treat us as an enemy that must be removed at any price. And if this is the aim, it must become the main axis of our efforts. Meaning: each of our actions must be judged according to a simple criterion: does it serve this aim or obstruct it?

    According to this criterion, the Second Lebanon War was a disaster.

    FIFTY NINE years ago, two months before the outbreak of our War of Independence, I published a booklet entitled “War or Peace in the Semitic Region”. Its opening words were:

    “When our Zionist fathers decided to set up a ‘safe haven’ in Palestine, they had a choice between two ways:

    “They could appear in West Asia as a European conqueror, who sees himself as a bridge-head of the ‘white’ race and a master of the ‘natives’, like the Spanish Conquistadores and the Anglo-Saxon colonists in America. That is what the Crusaders did in Palestine.

    “The second way was to consider themselves as an Asian nation returning to its home – a nation that sees itself as an
    heir to the political and cultural heritage of the Semitic race, and which is prepared to join the peoples of the Semitic region in their war of liberation from European exploitation.”

    As is well known, the State of Israel, which was established a few months later, chose the first way. It gave its hand to colonial France, tried to help Britain to return to the Suez Canal and, since 1967, has become the little sister of the United States.

    That was not inevitable. On the contrary, in the course of years there have been a growing number of indications that the immune system of the Arab-Muslim body is starting to incorporate the transplant – as a human body accepts the organ of a close relative – and is ready to accept us. Such an indication was the visit of Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem. Such was the peace treaty signed with us by King Hussein, a descendent of the Prophet. And, most importantly, the historic decision of Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian people, to make peace with Israel.

    But after every huge step forward, there came an Israeli step backward. It is as if the transplant rejects the body’s acceptance of it. As if it has become so accustomed to being rejected, that it does all it can to induce the body to reject it even more.

    It is against this background that one should weigh the words spoken by Assad Jr., a member of the new Arab generation, at the end of the recent war.

    AFTER EVERY single one of the war aims put forward by our government had evaporated, one after the other, another reason was brought up: this war was a part of the “clash of civilizations”, the great campaign of the Western world and its lofty values against the barbarian darkness of the Islamic world.

    That reminds one, of course, of the words written 110 years ago by the father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, in the founding document of the Zionist movement: “In Palestine?we shall constitute for Europe a part of the wall against Asia, and serve as the vanguard of civilization against barbarism.” Without knowing, Olmert almost repeated this formula in his justification of his war, in order to please President Bush.

    It happens from time to time in the United States that somebody invents an empty but easily digested slogan, which then dominates the public discourse for some time. It seems that the more stupid the slogan is, the better its chances of becoming the guiding light for academia and the media – until another slogan appears and supersedes it. The latest example is the slogan “Clash of Civilizations”, coined by Samuel P. Huntington in 1993 (taking over from the “End of History”).

    What clash of ideas is there between Muslim Indonesia and Christian Chile? What eternal struggle between Poland and Morocco? What is it that unifies Malaysia and Kosovo, two Muslim nations? Or two Christian nations like Sweden and Ethiopia?

    In what way are the ideas of the West more sublime than those of the East? The Jews that fled the flames of the auto-da-fe of the Christian Inquisition in Spain were received with open arms by the Muslim Ottoman Empire. The most cultured of European nations democratically elected Adolf Hitler as its leader and perpetrated the Holocaust, without the Pope raising his voice in protest.

    In what way are the spiritual values of the United States, today’s Empire of the West, superior to those of India and China, the rising stars of the East? Huntington himself was compelled to admit: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.” In the West, too, women won the vote only in the 20th century, and slavery was abolished there only in the second half of the 19th. And in the leading nation of the West, fundamentalism is now also raising its head.

    What interest, for goodness sake, have we in volunteering to be a political and military vanguard of the West in this imagined clash?

    THE TRUTH is, of course, that this entire story of the clash of civilizations is nothing but an ideological cover for something that has no connection with ideas and values: the determination of the United States to dominate the world’s resources, and especially oil.

    The Second Lebanon War is considered by many as a “War by Proxy”. That’s to say: Hizbullah is the Dobermann of Iran, we are the Rottweiler of America. Hizbullah gets money, rockets and support from the Islamic Republic, we get money, cluster bombs and support from the United States of America.

    That is certainly exaggerated. Hizbullah is an authentic Lebanese movement, deeply rooted in the Shiite community. The Israeli government has its own interests (the occupied territories) that do not depend on America. But there is no doubt that there is much truth in the argument that this was also a war by substitutes.

    The US is fighting against Iran, because Iran has a key role in the region where the most important oil reserves in the world are located. Not only does Iran itself sit on huge oil deposits, but through its revolutionary Islamic ideology it also menaces American control over the near-by oil countries. The declining resource oil becomes more and more essential in the modern economy. He who controls the oil controls the world.

    The US would viciously attack Iran even it were peopled with pigmies devoted to the religion of the Dalai Lama. There is a shocking similarity between George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, The one has personal conversations with Jesus, the other has a line to Allah. But the name of the game is domination.

    What interest do we have to get involved in this struggle? What interest do we have in being regarded – accurately – as the servants of the greatest enemy of the Muslim world in general and the Arab world in particular?

    We want to live here in 100 years, in 500 years. Our most basic national interests demand that we extend our hands to the Arab nations that accept us, and act together with them for the rehabilitation of this region. That was true 59 years ago, and that will be true 59 years hence.

    Little politicians like Olmert, Peretz and Halutz are unable to think in these terms. They can hardly see as far as the end of their noses. But where are the intellectuals, who should be more far-sighted?

    Bashar al-Assad may not be one of the world’s Great Thinkers. But his remark should certainly give us pause for thought.


  11. Noam Chomsky
    The Guardian

    Their View Of The World Is Through A Bombsight

    In Lebanon, a little-honored truce remains in effect – yet another in a decades-long series of ceasefires between Israel and its adversaries in a cycle that, as if inevitably, returns to warfare, carnage and human misery. Let’s describe the current crisis for what it is: a US-Israeli invasion of Lebanon, with only a cynical pretense to legitimacy. Amid all the charges and counter-charges, the most immediate factor behind the assault is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    This is hardly the first time that Israel has invaded Lebanon to eliminate an alleged threat. The most important of the US-backed Israeli invasions of Lebanon, in 1982, was widely described in Israel as a war for the West Bank.

    It was undertaken to end the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s annoying calls for a diplomatic settlement. Despite many different circumstances, the July invasion falls into the same pattern.

    What would break the cycle? The basic outlines of a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict have been supported by a broad international consensus for 30 years: a two-state settlement on the international border, perhaps with minor and mutual adjustments.

    The Arab states formally accepted this proposal in 2002, as the Palestinians had long before. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has made it clear that though this solution is not Hizbullah’s preference, they will not disrupt it. Iran’s “supreme leader” Ayatollah Khamenei recently reaffirmed that Iran too supports this settlement. Hamas has indicated clearly that it is prepared to negotiate for a settlement in these terms as well.

    The US and Israel continue to block this political settlement, as they have done for 30 years, with brief and inconsequential exceptions. Denial may be preferred at home, but the victims do not enjoy that luxury.

    US-Israeli rejectionism is not only in words but, more importantly, in actions. With decisive US backing, Israel has been formalizing its program of annexation, dismemberment of shrinking Palestinian territories and imprisonment of what remains by taking over the Jordan valley – the “convergence” program that is, astonishingly, called “courageous withdrawal” in the US.

    In consequence, the Palestinians are facing national destruction. The most meaningful support for Palestine is from Hizbullah, which was formed in reaction to the 1982 invasion. It won considerable prestige by leading the effort to force Israel to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000. Also, like other Islamic movements including Hamas, Hizbullah has gained popular support by providing social services to the poor.

    To US and Israeli planners it therefore follows that Hizbullah must be severely weakened or destroyed, just as the PLO had to be evicted from Lebanon in 1982. But Hizbullah is so deeply embedded in society that it cannot be eradicated without destroying much of Lebanon as well. Hence the scale of the attack on the country’s population and infrastructure.

    In keeping with a familiar pattern, the aggression is sharply increasing the support for Hizbullah, not only in the Arab and Muslim worlds beyond, but also in Lebanon itself. Late last month, polls revealed that 87% of Lebanese support Hizbullah’s resistance against the invasion, including 80% of Christians and Druze. Even the Maronite Catholic patriarch, the spiritual leader of the most pro-western sector in Lebanon, joined Sunni and Shia religious leaders in a statement condemning the “aggression” and hailing “the resistance, mainly led by Hizbullah”. The poll also found that 90% of Lebanese regard the US as “complicit in Israel’s war crimes against the Lebanese people”.

    Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Lebanon’s leading academic scholar on Hizbullah, observes that “these findings are all the more significant when compared to the results of a similar survey conducted just five months ago, which showed that only 58% of all Lebanese believed Hizbullah had the right to remain armed, and hence continue its resistance activity”.

    The dynamics are familiar. Rami Khouri, an editor of Lebanon’s Daily Star, writes that “the Lebanese and Palestinians have responded to Israel’s persistent and increasingly savage attacks against entire civilian populations by creating parallel or alternative leaderships that can protect them and deliver essential services”.

    Such popular forces will only gain in power and become more extremist if the US and Israel persist in demolishing any hope of Palestinian national rights, and in destroying Lebanon.

    Even King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Washington’s oldest ally in the region, was compelled to say: “If the peace option is rejected due to the Israeli arrogance, then only the war option remains, and no one knows the repercussions befalling the region, including wars and conflict that will spare no one, including those whose military power is now tempting them to play with fire.”

    It is no secret that Israel has helped to destroy secular Arab nationalism and to create Hizbullah and Hamas, just as US violence has expedited the rise of extremist Islamic fundamentalism and jihadi terror. The latest adventure is likely to create new generations of bitter and angry jihadis, just as the invasion of Iraq did.

    Israeli writer Uri Avnery observed that the Israeli chief of staff Dan Halutz, a former air force commander, “views the world below through a bombsight”. Much the same is true of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice and other top Bush administration planners. As history reveals, that view of the world is not uncommon among those who wield most of the means of violence.

    Saad-Ghorayeb describes the current violence in “apocalyptic terms”, warning that possibly “all hell would be let loose” if the outcome of the US-Israel campaign leaves a situation in which “the Shia community is seething with resentment at Israel, the US and the government that it perceives as its betrayer”.

    The core issue – the Israel-Palestine conflict – can be settled by diplomacy, if the US and Israel abandon their rejectionist commitments. Other outstanding problems in the region are also susceptible to negotiation and diplomacy. Their success can never be guaranteed. But we can be reasonably confident that viewing the world through a bombsight will bring further misery and suffering, perhaps even in “apocalyptic terms”.

    Noam Chomsky’s most recent book is Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy; he is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology http://www.chomsky.info


  12. Tyre, Under Siege

    Israeli jets hurl rockets at Tyre,
    the Queen City of the Sea, formerly known as Sur.
    She has endured against the Assyrians,
    the Chaldeans, the Persians, and the
    hated Crusaders who defiled her land.

    Israel forgets that David was once friend and ally
    of this seafaring people and makers of purple cloth
    whose city was visited by Herodotus.

    Ancient Tyre was reduced to rubble when its people
    stood up against Alexander the Great;
    Once again, it stands strong,
    against the onslaught from Israel,
    Gone are the lovers who walked peacefully
    in this country skirting the blue Mediterranean.
    Now there is only mourning
    under the great sad stars at night.

    Luis L. Tijerina



  13. Israelis and Hezbollah Haven’t Always Been Enemies
    by Jimmy Johnson, 11 September, 2006

    When Hezbollah operative and diamond trader Samih Ossailly was arrested in Belgium in April of 2002, one of the items found in a search of his apartment was an End-Use Certificate (EUC) for a shipment of 113 tons of arms from the Ukraine to the Ivory Coast. So what was an Israeli arms dealer doing in possession of an identical EUC? The answer is convoluted but revealing. Ready?

    The story begins with Al Qaeda diamonds. Shortly after the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the US began aggressively searching for ways to disrupt Al Qaeda’s financing. In 1998 the Clinton Administration succeeded in freezing some $240 million in assets belonging to either Al Qaeda or the Taliban. This led Al Qaeda to restructure its finances. Since Afghanistan was mineral rich yet had no regulating authority, both the Taliban, along with its allies, and the Northern Alliance gained experience in trading gemstones for arms, and to fund their political operations. Civil war-torn Sierra Leone and the endemic corruption in Liberia provided perfect conditions for Al Qaeda operatives to do the same providing they had a way to enter the area. Luckily they had an old friend in Ibrahim Bah.

    Long before his current trial in The Hague for war crimes, former Liberian President Charles Taylor underwent training in Libya under Bah, a Senegalese national and ex-Mujahadeen/ex-Hezbollah. Upon his return to Liberia in 1989, Taylor led a rebellion which eventually led to his 1997 election and ensuing dictatorship. Taylor bestowed upon Bah the rank of general in the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group backed by Taylor that was seeking power in Sierra Leone, infamous for amputating the limbs of noncombatants. The RUF launched its civil war in 1991 with Bah as the official arms and diamonds broker for both the RUF and Taylor. The violence generated by Taylor in both Liberia and Sierra Leone led the United Nations to establish an arms embargo on Liberia in 1992 and in 1997 against Sierra Leone, followed by an embargo of West African “blood diamonds” that financed the violence.

    In January of 2006, retired Israeli Defense Forces Colonel Yair Klein was invited to Liberia by Simon Rosenblum, an Israeli businessman formerly based in Abdijan, Ivory Coast. During Taylor’s reign, Rosenblum was a member of his inner circle. He carried a Liberian diplomatic passport, owned logging and road constructions interests in Liberia and his trucks were used to carry weapons from Liberia to the border with Sierra Leone. Klein arrived in Liberia after Taylor had been deposed, but when his presence became known he was forced to flee the country, and with good reason. From 1996 until 1999, Klein provided material and training to Liberia’s Anti-Terrorism Unit and, in violation of the UN embargo, to the RUF as part of a diamonds-for-arms operation involving Klein and two other Israelis, Dov Katz and Dan Gertler. In January of 1999 Klein was arrested in Sierra Leone on charges of smuggling arms to the RUF. Those transactions went through Bah, the “gatekeeper” for such dealings in the RUF-controlled territory as well as being an Al Qaeda businessman.

    Klein’s Anti-Terrorism Unit, a group widely criticized for gross abuses of human rights, was headed by “Chuckie” Taylor, the president’s son, but Klein and Rosenblum weren’t the only Israelis involved with the Taylors and Bah. Along with the $500,000 worth of diamonds in his possession, in a briefcase searched upon his August, 2000 arrest in Italy, Leonid Minin, a Ukrainian-born Israeli member of the “Odessa Mafia,” was found to be in possession of correspondence detailing his sale to the Liberian government of millions of dollars worth of arms in exchange for diamonds and timber concessions. Minin had extensive dealings with Bah, but perhaps the most interesting item found in Minin’s briefcase was that End-Use-Certificate for 113 tons of ammunition and arms that exactly matched the End-Use-Certificate found in the apartment of Hezbollah operative Samih Ossailly.

    Hezbollah has a long history of diamond trading in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other West African countries. Samih Ossailly and Aziz Nassour, Hezbollah operatives who also provided services for Al Qaeda diamond merchants, stand out in particular as traders. When Al Qaeda approached Bah for an “in” to diamond trading in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Bah went to Nassour for help.

    Hezbollah’s activity in diamond trading has mostly been limited to Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Israel, too, has long had ties in the area. Back in 1983, Israel was contracted to train and equip Mobutu Sese Seko’s presidential guard, the notorious Division Speciale Presidentielle. It was during this time that Shimon Yelnik, an Israeli army officer in charge of Seko’s presidential guard, became acquainted with Aziz Nassour. About a decade later, in late 2000, when Nassour needed arms to ensure his continued diamond enterprises in Liberia and Sierra Leone, he contacted his Yelnik, by then brokering arms in Panama, as revealed in an investigation by the Organization of American States into Yelnik’s involvement with Columbian paramilitaries. The investigation also uncovered faxes between Bah and Yelnik and attempts to both avoid and make fraudulent End-Use Certificates in order to break the UN arms embargo. Investigative journalist Douglas Farah quotes one European intelligence agent as saying, “The likelihood these types of weapons were going to the RUF rebels in the bush is very hard to believe,” leading to speculation that the weapons were actually destined for the Taliban in Afghanistan. The contact between Israeli diamond dealers, extending beyond Sierra Leone and Liberia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, and their counterparts in Hezbollah and Al Qaeda is well summed up by Farah in his book Blood from Stones:

    An Israeli diamond dealer, who regularly did business with buyers he knew were Hezbollah and some he suspected were Al Qaeda, agreed. “Here it is business,” he said. “The wars are over there. Here we do business, there they do war.”

    This picture that emerges from these relationships is not only one of war crimes, profiteering, massive environmental destruction, corruption and greed, but one of Israelis, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda all working together in mutually profitable enterprises, regardless of principle or ideology. With nationals or operatives of all three known to be operating in the region still today, it remains to be seen if such relationships continue.

    Jimmy Johnson is a researcher on Israel’s arms exports with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He can be reached at jimmy@icahd.org

    Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
    PO Box 2030
    91020 Jerusalem

    Office: 972 (0)2 624 5560
    Fax: 972 (0)2 622 1530


  14. Here follows the translation of Wednesday’s Gush Shalom press release

    Dan Halutz, shooting himself in the wing

    Press release, 17/01/07

    On the day when Dan Halutz entered upon his career as Army Chief of Staff, activists of Gush Shalom and Yesh Gvul stood protesting outside. We flew across the Defence Ministry walls little paper airplanes bearing quotations from Halutz’s infamous interview, where he stated that he was sleeping well at night after his pilots had killed fifteen civilians, nine of them children, in a single minute of dropping a bomb on Gaza, and that he felt nothing but “a slight tremor in the wing, as the bomb departs”. Two years have passed, in which Dan Halutz was directly responsible for shedding the blood of thousands – Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese.* The arrogant man who had no feeling at the death of Palestinian civilians also led his own soldiers into an unnecessary, cruel war, hastily and without preparation, and ended with a shameful fiasco for which he is today paying the price. Dan Halutz has today been thrown out of the job which he should never have gotten, and we do not feel even a slight tremor in the wing. Halutz’s successor would do well to remember that even the commander of the most powerful army in the Middle East is far from being almighty.

    By coincidence or not, the day of Halutz’s resignation is also the day that the military authorities withdrew their intention to add yet another to the innumerable iniquities of the occupation, and rescinded the intention of imposing an Apartheid ordinance forbidding Israelis and Palestinian from travelling together on the West Bank roads.** May that be a sign of things to come.

    Contact: Adam Keller – Gush Shalom spokesperson adam@gush-shalom.org

    * Demonstration Against Dan Halutz 10/06/2006

    ** Friday’s ‘freedom rides’ canceled – for the best of reasons http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/events/1168809863


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