A Declaration of U.S. Independence from Israel

This is a talk given at the Nassau Club in Princeton by Chris Hedges, former New York Times Middle East bureau chief:

Israel, without the United States, would probably not exist. The country came perilously close to extinction during the October 1973 war when Egypt, trained and backed by the Soviet Union, crossed the Suez Canal and the Syrians poured in over the Golan Heights. Huge American military transport planes came to the rescue.

They began landing every half-hour to refit the battered Israeli army, which had lost most of its heavy armor. By the time the war as over, the United States had given Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid. The intervention, which enraged the Arab world, triggered the OPEC oil embargo that for a time wreaked havoc on Western economies. This was perhaps the most dramatic example of the sustained life-support system the United States has provided to the Jewish state.

Israel was born at midnight May 14, 1948. The U.S. Recognized the new state 11 minutes later. The two countries have been locked in a deadly embrace ever since.Washington, at the beginning of the relationship, was able to be a moderating influence. An incensed President Eisenhower demanded and got Israel’s withdrawal after the Israelis occupied Gaza in 1956.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed the USS Liberty. The ship, flying the U.S. Flag and stationed 15 miles off the Israeli coast, was intercepting tactical and strategic communications from both sides. The Israeli strikes killed 34 U.S. Sailors and wounded 171.

The deliberate attack froze, for a while, Washington’s enthusiasm for Israel. But ruptures like this one proved to be only bumps, soon smoothed out by an increasingly sophisticated and well-financed Israel lobby that set out to merge Israel and American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Israel has reaped tremendous rewards from this alliance. It has been given more than $140 billion in U.S. Direct economic and military assistance. It receives about $3 billion in direct assistance annually, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. Foreign aid budget. Although most American foreign aid packages stipulate that related military purchases have to be made in the United States, Israel is allowed to use about 25 percent of the money to subsidize its own growing and profitable defense industry. It is exempt, unlike other nations, from accounting for how it spends the aid money.

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Your last chance: Israel’s warning

ISRAEL’S Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has warned the radical Islamic movement Hamas that the truce due to take effect today is the last chance to avoid a massive military incursion into the Gaza Strip.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald – his first interview with the Australian media in four years – Mr Olmert said the people of Gaza were “pissed off with Hamas” and sick and tired of the years of violence.

Since Israel withdrew from Gaza three years ago, the 250,000 residents who surround Gaza have been subjected to almost daily rocket attacks from Palestinian militants.

“You think the people of Adelaide would put up with this?” demanded Mr Olmert. “Or the people of Brisbane?

“I think the strategy of Hamas, which does not want to recognise Israel’s right to exist in the first place, and the extremism, and the fanaticism, and the religious dogmatism is the enemy of peace. We are at the end of our tolerance with regard to terror in Gaza.”

Read moreYour last chance: Israel’s warning

Israeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran


The Israeli Air Force is known for its “inventive solutions to military problems,” says Bruce Riedel, a Middle East expert who has strong contacts to Israel. “Israeli military planners tell me it is mission doable.”

The Israeli government no longer believes that sanctions can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. A broad consensus in favor of a military strike against Tehran’s nuclear facilities — without the Americans, if necessary — is beginning to take shape.

Dani Yatom, a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, was invited to attend a NATO conference in Brussels last year. While reviewing the agenda, Yatom, a retired major general, was surprised to see that the meeting was titled “The Iranian Challenge” and not “The Iranian Threat.”

When a speaker with a French accent mentioned that a US military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities would be the most dangerous scenario of all, Yatom said, politely but firmly: “Sir, you are wrong. The worst scenario would be if Iran acquired an atom bomb.”

Yatom, 63, has spent most of his life in the military. He was a military adviser to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and, in the mid-1990s, was named head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Nevertheless, Yatom, a member of the Labor Party, is not some reckless hawk. Unlike most Knesset members, he flatly rejects, for example, a major Israeli offensive against the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

But Yatom’s willingness to strike a compromise ends when he is asked what he considers to be the best response to the Iranian nuclear program. “We no longer believe in the effectiveness of sanctions,” says Yatom. “A military operation is needed if the world wants to stop Iran.”

When Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister, expressed similar sentiments 10 days ago, they were viewed, especially in Europe, as the isolated opinions of a card-carrying hardliner seeking to score points with the electorate in a bid to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In truth, however, there is now a consensus within the Israeli government that an air strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities has become unavoidable. “Most members of the Israeli cabinet no longer believe that sanctions will convince President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to change course,” says Minister of Immigrant Absorption Yaakov Edri.

The one question over which Israel’s various political groups disagree is the timing of an attack. The doves argue that diplomatic efforts by the United Nations should be allowed to continue until Iran is on the verge of completing the bomb. That way, Israel could at least argue convincingly that all non-military options had been exhausted.

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Israeli officials: We will invade Gaza before truce deal takes effect

Israeli army officials told the Jerusalem Post news paper that the Israeli government will conduct a medium range ground offensive targeting Gaza before any truce deal with the Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza takes effect.

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert - File 2008
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert

The officials said that it’s likely the operation will be approved this coming Tuesday during the meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his defense Minister Ehud Barak.

According to army officials, Israel does not want to appear weak, by accepting the truce deal while Palestinian resistance groups are still firing home made-shells from Gaza toward nearby Israeli areas.

Read moreIsraeli officials: We will invade Gaza before truce deal takes effect

Israel ready for Military Operation in Gaza

Gaza decision in days

Army is ready for Gaza operation, waiting for Olmert to make final decision

“The sand in the hourglass is running out,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised Thursday in a meeting with municipal leaders in the Gaza region.

His words could be understood to mean that a significant IDF operation in Gaza is in the cards, and that we are not talking about months or weeks from now, but rather, something that will take place within days. The military blow, he said, will come before the lull.

Barak is attempting to blur his message and refrain from giving Hamas any clues, but it appears he already decided – even before the cabinet meeting and consultations with other ministers – that a truce with Hamas without a military blow that precedes it is no longer a realistic option.

It appears that on this issue he is in agreement with the prime minister. The IDF chief of staff also decided that there is no other way but a military operation, even though the political leadership is unable to point to a required diplomatic achievement that would stem from this high-risk military move.

The army would perhaps prefer air attacks accompanied by some ground operations against a very large number of Hamas targets. Yet this is not very realistic, because for such activity to take place military intelligence and the Shin Bet are supposed to provide hundreds of high-quality targets, and this, how shall we put it, is not quite working out.

What is left is to take over problematic areas on the ground, using the air power lever, in the hopes that developments would not require a reserves call-up and full occupation of the Strip.

On Thursday, we still saw contacts between the Defense Ministry and the Egyptians regarding the answers Israel is supposed to provide to the truce offer and regarding a trip by top defense official Amos Gilad to Egypt. For the time being, Gilad is not going anywhere, Hamas is not giving any good reason to believe in the truce, and the IDF is on alert ahead of various types of operations in the Strip.

We are talking about phased activity, the plans are in place, and the army is practicing at this time. If the activity expands to occupying significant parts of the Strip for long periods of time there is also a plan for a reserves call-up.

Hamas must be laughing

The IDF is prepared to engage in fighting vis-à-vis Gaza within a short period of time. What are we waiting for? Why does it have to take days? We’ve already been there. Bush came and went, and the 60th birthday celebrations are over. So what’s the excuse now for not taking off the gloves against Gaza? The Shavuot holiday? Indeed, that’s a good reason not to spoil the people’s mood and the trips to the Negev. But Shavuot will be followed by summer vacation and then by Rosh Hashana. We can always find reasons to postpone tough decisions.

(Madness alive and well. – The Infinite Unknown)

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Israelis open fire on Gazan protesters

Six Palestinians demonstrators, who were among thousands peacefully protesting the siege on Gaza, have been injured by Israeli fire.

Thousands of people took to streets to join a rally called by Islamic Hamas movement to demand Israel to lift its crippling blockade on the sliver.

The protesters marched from the cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis in southern Gaza towards the Sufa crossing, calling for the end of Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

The demonstrators waving Hamas flags chanted anti-Israeli slogans, condemning the regime for committing a holocaust in Gaza.

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Palestinian police get training in riot control

JERICHO, West Bank (AP) – Palestinian police officers in riot gear trained under the desert sun Tuesday as part of a European Union-sponsored public order course begun after a deadly clash between police and demonstrators last fall.

Palestinian instructors barked commands at a squad of men who stamped their boots and rapped their clubs on their shields as they advanced on an imaginary demonstration – a tactic designed to intimidate without bloodshed.

Next week, the 64 graduates of the 12-day course will report for duty in their hometown of Jenin, an unruly hotbed of militants and heavily armed gangs.

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Carter says Israel has arsenal of 150 nuclear weapons

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has said Israel holds at least 150 nuclear weapons, the first time a U.S. president has publicly acknowledged Israel’s atomic arsenal.

Asked at a news conference at Wales’s Hay literary festival on Sunday how a future U.S. president should deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, Carter put the risk in context by listing atomic weapons held globally.

“The U.S. has more more than 12,000 nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union (Russia) has about the same, Great Britain and France have several hundred, and Israel has 150 or more. We have a phalanx of enormous weaponry … not only of enormous weaponry but of rockets to deliver those missiles on a pinpoint accuracy target,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks.

Carter also condemned Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as “one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth,” according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.

Carter said in reference to the situation of Palestinians in Gaza that, “There is no reason to treat these people this way.”

The 83-year-old was subjected to criticism on a recent visit to Israel for his meetings with officials from Palestinian militant group Hamas as well as his trip to Syria where he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal.

He has also in the past branded a “crime and an atrocity” the Israeli blockade of Gaza, imposed in response to ongoing rocket attacks launched from the territory.

Related articles:

  • Our debt to Jimmy Carter
  • Ex-U.S. President Carter answers questions from Haaretz Editor-in-Chief
  • Jimmy Carter: Israel’s ‘apartheid’ policies worse than South Africa’s
  • Last update – 21:23 26/05/2008

    Source: Haaretz.com

    Israeli siege leads to soaring anemia in Gaza newborns

    The Israeli siege of Gaza that has restricted access to food, water, and medicine is beginning to cause serious problems for newborn babies and pregnant mothers. “Many babies are born suffering from anemia that they have inherited from their mothers,” said Dr. Salah al-Rantisi, head of the women’s health department at the Palestinian ministry of health in Gaza. The mothers are becoming anemic because they do not get enough nutrition during pregnancy due to the Israeli blockade that has choked the supply of food and medicines.

    Dr. al-Rantisi also heads the women’s health unit at Nasser hospital, where 30 to 40 children are born every day. Many suffer from anemia, he said.

    Anwaar Abu Daqqa, 30, has lost three babies prematurely. The fetuses were malformed as a result of lack of nutrition and medicine for the mother, Dr. al-Rantisi said. In the last case, Daqqa got to the hospital late because she could not find transport. “Premature babies born dangerously underweight are a daily and increasing phenomenon in Gaza’s hospitals,” he said.

    Read moreIsraeli siege leads to soaring anemia in Gaza newborns

    A human rights crime in Gaza

    By Jimmy Carter
    First Published 5/6/2008

    The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza, where a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world by sea, air, or land. An entire population is being brutally punished.

    This gross mistreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza was escalated dramatically by Israel, with United States backing, after political candidates representing Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority parliament in 2006. The election was unanimously judged to be honest and fair by all international observers.

    Israel and the US refused to accept the right of Palestinians to form a unity government with Hamas and Fatah and now, after internal strife, Hamas alone controls Gaza. Forty-one of the 43 victorious Hamas candidates who lived in the West Bank are now imprisoned by Israel, plus an additional ten who assumed positions in the short-lived coalition cabinet.

    Regardless of one’s choice in the partisan struggle between Fatah and Hamas within occupied Palestine, we must remember that economic sanctions and restrictions in delivering water, food, electricity, and fuel are causing extreme hardship among the innocent people in Gaza, about one million of whom are refugees.

    Israeli bombs and missiles periodically strike the encapsulated area, causing high casualties among both militants and innocent women and children. Prior to the highly publicized killing of a woman and her four little children last week, this pattern was illustrated by a previous report from B’Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights organization: 106 Palestinians were killed between February 27 and March 3. Fifty-four of them were civilians who didn’t take part in the fighting, and 25 were under 18 years of age.

    Read moreA human rights crime in Gaza