Archive for August, 2012


This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

The expected verdict in the death of Rachel Corrie, killed under the wheels of an Israeli-modified Caterpillar bulldozer in 2003, came down today and the court found no fault with the Israel Defense Forces. That was no surprise. But the deafening silence about it in Washington is nonetheless reprehensible.

I’ve met Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel’s parents, on several occasions. I cannot imagine the lives they lead. I cannot imagine the death of my child, much less the death of a child at the hands of a supposed ally of my country with no accountability. I can’t imagine my child being killed by that ally and then seeing my child being blamed for the incident. Yet the Corries have lived through all this, and somehow, while their frustration has grown, it has never morphed into hate. Somehow they always cling to the hope

Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel’s parents

that Israel, an ostensible ally and fellow democracy, will at some point do the right thing.

I’m sure, though I haven’t spoken with them in years, that the Corries held out little hope that this verdict would be that point. But what is perhaps most stunning is that there is no clamor in the United States, aside from those whose sympathies would be with Rachel’s cause in trying to protect Palestinians from the ravages of occupation, for some kind of action on behalf of a US citizen who lost her life on foreign soil under, to be kind, questionable circumstances.

Take Cindy Corrie’s words today: “This was a bad day, not only for us, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law, and the country of Israel.” Someone was missing on that list, but Cindy got to them inanother comment: “The diplomatic process between the United States and Israel failed us.”

I admire Cindy Corrie’s restraint. But the US failure here is much broader than what she is saying. And it’s a long term one.

On March 25, 2003, Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling on the US government to “undertake a full, fair, and expeditious investigation” into Corrie’s death. The bill gathered 77 co-sponsors, which is not a large number, though a larger one than is typical for a bill critical of Israel. But none had the political muscle to counter defenders of Israel in the House, so the bill died in the Committee on International Relations. Its death, like its existence, generated little attention. (more…)

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Yep, three articles coming out today, the third being this one at Alternet, exploring what is really behind the crocodile tears neoconservatives and liberal hawks are shedding for innocent lives being lost in Syria.

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In my latest piece for Souciant, I look again at the shenanigans of Bibi and Barak and how Shimon Peres was so worried they might damage Israel’s “special relationship” with the US, he took unprecedented steps to stop them.

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I’m not convinced that this is the end of the story by any means, but it does seem that the tide has turned sharply against Bibi’s and Barak’s efforts to either unilaterally attack Iran or use the threat of such to blackmail the US into doing it for them. My report for Inter Press Service.

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My piece in Souciant this week understandably has generated some questions. The sort of thing in that piece is precisely the kind of thinking I often try to counter. And, under the current circumstances, where whatever the goals and motivations, Netanyahu and Barak are obviously trying to stir up fear and pressure through the media, it is a level head that is called for. It doesn’t help that the article came out around the same time as another blogger was embroiled in controversy, and opened to questions of having been manipulated by Israel’s hasbara efforts, over an obviously bogus document he presented as an Israeli plan for an attack.

“Come, Ehud, sit and we’ll figure out how to get this done…”

Of course, I strongly considered the idea that I was falling victim to some sort of hasbara scheme. It’s possible that’s just what this was, though I don’t think so. Of course, if I thought so, we wouldn’t have this discussion in the first place, would we?

I don’t buy what my source told me whole cloth, in any case. As I stated repeatedly in the piece, I still don’t think Israel is going to attack Iran unilaterally. But where I was once 95% sure of that, now I’d say I’m 85% sure, because I do give some weight to what I was told. So why is that?

A reasonable question. Obviously, since I remain 85% sure, as I said numerous times in the piece, that the attack will not come off, I remain dubious. On the other hand, it did cause me to doubt my assessment more than I have in the past, and this is the case for a number of reasons.

1. The Source. Although I don’t know who the inside source is on this, the person I got it from is an someone I’ve known for a decade and who I trust very much. I also know, first-hand, that this person has genuine inside sources in the Israeli governmental and military establishment, and they have proven themselves sound to me numerous times over the years. Thus, even though the view I presented in my piece doesn’t line up well with my thinking, and I have serious questions about it, I can’t dismiss it out of hand. (more…)

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This week at Souciant, I got a different view from a well-placed source on the potential of an Israeli attack on Iran. I haven’t changed my view–I don’t think it will happen. But I still thought it sufficiently important to explore what this source told me, even if it didn’t sway me to his view. You might find it interesting…

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog, which is a treasure trove of valuable foreign policy analysis. I hope you will check the site out, I’m sure you’ll find it worth your while. 

Headlines today featured news of a spike in oil prices based on fears of an Israeli strike on Iran. That fear is based on last week’s major uptick in Israeli rhetoric — mostly from Defense Minister Ehud Barak — which was geared toward goading the United States into military action against Iran. While tension has indeed risen, Israel’s tactics could backfire.

Netanyahu and Barak

The most recent surge of tension began with an“anonymous” leak, widely believed to have come from Barak, stating that the US had a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that showed Iran to be a greater threat than previously believed. Barak then told Israeli Radio that there was a new report, perhaps not a NIE, which brought the US assessment closer to “ours.”

The “ours” Barak referred to was that of himself and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose assessment differs not only from the Obama Administration’s, but also from Israel’s own military and intelligence establishment. Netanyahu and Barak’s take also differs from Israeli public opinion about the threat Iran poses. In a poll conducted by Israel’s Channel 10 and announced earlier today (Hebrew only), only 23% of Israelis support a strike on Iran, while 46% oppose it.

But Netanyahu and Barak had indeed attempted to sway public opinion. The day after Barak’s statements, Israeli headlines were devoted to a possible strike on Iran. Netanyahu also proceeded to rekindle Holocaust fears and another article appeared in the Israeli daily, Ha’aretz, with an anonymous “decision maker” — almost certainly Barak again — warning about the unspeakable consequences of a nuclear Iran and urging action.

It’s no surprise that markets are reacting with fear to all of this, but what can we make of recent events with a more sober eye? For one, Netanyahu and Barak are growing more concerned about the potential for an attack on Iran — something they want very badly. They are also now playing a much higher-stakes political game in order to get Iran attacked.

As Ha’aretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn points out, Netanyahu and Barak have been screaming hysterically about Iran while other world leaders haven’t been all that concerned about their complaints. Israeli rhetoric has been escalating steadily for years now, but there are good reasons to believe that there will not be an Israeli attack. First, there is serious internal opposition. Second, Israel isn’t likely to strike Iran because it doesn’t have, by itself, the capacity to destroy or substantially set back the Iranian nuclear program. In other words, Israel can’t make the minimal gains required to justify the risks and consequences of taking on Iran alone. (more…)

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