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Jewish Lobby Gives Obama His Marching Orders - By Michael Collins Piper (LATEST UPDATE - 24/1/09)

THE POWERFUL JEWISH LOBBY in Washington is already issuing marching orders to President-elect Barack Obama. One of the most influential voices of the lobby has published an array of “working papers” designed to tell the president how he must maintain the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel, increase pressure on a variety of Arab and Muslim states that are perceived as dangers to Israel, and generally assure that Israel’s interests will always be first and foremost in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, not only in the Middle East but around the globe.

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a particularly vocal force in the Jewish lobby, published an entire edition of its Journal of International Security Affairs (dated fall 2008), sending the official word to Obama. JINSA was founded by one Stephen Bryen who—along with a host of other well known names connected to JINSA—was once investigated by the FBI on charges of espionage for Israel.

A variety of articles in the journal addressing “Middle East Policy and the Next President” and “Iran, Iraq and Beyond,” make it clear that JINSA—best known as a nest of the infamous “neo-conservatives” who misdirected U.S. foreign policy during the outgoing Bush administration, sparking the war in Iraq and continuing to clamor for action against Iran—wants Obama to pursue Bush-style policies.

AIPAC is particularly obsessed with using U.S. military and economic power to force Arab and Muslim nations to “reform” from within. Talk of “democracy” flows freely within AIPAC’s assorted essays, demanding that Israel’s neighbors conform to the Western version of democracy. But when the Palestinian people voted the Hamas movement into power in the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza strip, AIPAC and other elements in the Jewish lobby immediately began calling for the United States to reject that freely elected government.

Now, of course, Hamas is largely only in control of the beleaguered Gaza—which many refer to as “ghetto”— and the Palestinian statehood movement has been eviscerated, at least for now. This makes AIPAC and the lobby for Israel quite happy, for Israel has long encouraged U.S. policies—and helped create conditions—that have the effect of “divide and conquer” in the Arab and Muslim world.

Israel is not like any other nation in the world, in that it seems to thrive best (and enjoys the benefits of) having its neighbors quarreling among themselves and rent within. Other nations prefer neighbors that are peaceful and internally secure. Israel wants its neighbors in chaos, because this prevents them from waging war against Israel, either individually or united. And although in the wake of the debacle in Iraq, which led many Israelis and their allies in the United States to suddenly proclaim that the Iraq war should never have been waged, the fact is that Israel and its U.S.-based agents-in-place were the prime movers behind that war and it was Israeli intelligence that was providing what critics now recognize was the “bad intelligence” that led the Bush administration to “mistakenly” conclude that Iraq was working toward an assembly of nuclear weapons to rival that of Israel.

The Israelis and their American spokesmen evidently now believe that if they tell the “big lie” often enough—the lie that Israel’s interests played no part in orchestrating the debacle in Iraq—that it will make Americans forget that Israel was the foremost advocate of the war in the first place.

However, the evisceration of Iraq by the United States is part and parcel of a long-standing Israeli national security policy aimed toward “balkanizing” the Muslim world.

Yet, AIPAC, in its journal, is now working to perpetuate the myth of Iraqi nuclear weapons and suggesting that Iraq’s weapons were transported into Syria, another nation which has been on the “wish list for war” of Israel and its lobby in America. And AIPAC makes it clear that the destruction of Iran’s nuclear development program is a “must.”

AIPAC is not the only Israeli lobby unit sending the message to the new president. Commentary magazine, long affiliated with the American Jewish Committee, has—in recent issues—been trumpeting a similar bellicose refrain directed at Obama. The editorial director of the Jewish lobby journal is John Podhoretz, a longtime close personal and political associate of the ubiquitous William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard magazine, which is the most infamous voice of the neo-conservative, hard-line pro-Israel elements operating in the media, in the think tanks, and in official policy making and national security and intelligence circles in Washington.

Their fathers, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, are two of the founding fathers of the neoconservative network, both Trotskyite Marxists who announced their “conversion” to conservatism during the latter days of the Cold War, banging the drum for intensified U.S. support for Israel.

A complete overview of the neo-conservative power structure and its rather bizarre origins in the days when American Jewish communists like Kristol and Podhoretz turned on the Soviet Union when then- Soviet chief Josef Stalin began moving against Jewish and Zionist elements inside Russia can be found in The High Priests of War and The Judas Goats, two works by this author.

Whether President Obama intends real change, as he promised, or whether he will advance the Israeli agenda (which saw its power expand exponentially in the Republican administration of George W. Bush) remains to be seen. But “the lobby” is making its voice heard and Obama knows that he better not ignore it.

A journalist specializing in media critique, Michael Collins Piper is the author of The High Priests of War, The New Jerusalem, Dirty Secrets, The Judas Goats, The Golem, Target Traficant and My First Days in the White House All are available from AFP.
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Worse Than An Earthquake - By Kathy Kelly (LATEST UPDATE - 24/1/09)

January 22, 2009 Commondreams

RAFAH - Traffic on Sea Street, a major thoroughfare alongside Gaza's coastline, includes horses, donkeys pulling carts, cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and cars, mostly older models. Overhead, in stark contrast to the street below, Israel's ultra modern unmanned surveillance planes criss-cross the skies. F16s and helicopters can also be heard. Remnants of their deliveries, the casings of missiles, bombs and shells used during the past three weeks of Israeli attacks, are scattered on the ground.

Workers have cleared most of the roads. Now, they are removing massive piles of wreckage and debris, much as people do following an earthquake.

"Yet, all the world helps after an earthquake," said a doctor at the Shifaa hospital in Gaza. "We feel very frustrated," he continued. "The West, Europe and the U.S., watched this killing go on for 22 days, as though they were watching a movie, watching the killing of women and children without doing anything to stop it. I was expecting to die at any moment. I held my babies and expected to die. There was no safe place in Gaza."

He and his colleagues are visibly exhausted, following weeks of work in the Intensive Care and Emergency Room departments at a hospital that received many more patients than they could help. "Patients died on the floor of the operating room because we had only six operating rooms," said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan, M.D, an ICU doctor who grew up in Chicago. "And really we don't know enough about the kinds of weapons that have been used against Gaza."

In 15 years of practice, Dr. Abuhassan says he never saw burns like those he saw here. The burns, blackish in color, reached deep into the muscles and bones. Even after treatment was begun, the blackish color returned.

Two of the patients were sent to Egypt because they were in such critical condition. They died in Egypt. But when autopsies were done, reports showed that the cause of death was poisoning from elements of white phosphorous that had entered their systems, causing cardiac arrests.

In Gaza City, The Burn Unit's harried director, a plastic surgeon and an expert in treating burns, told us that after encountering cases they'd never seen before, doctors at the center performed a biopsy on a patient they believed may have suffered chemical burns and sent the sample to a lab in Egypt. The results showed elements of white phosphorous in the tissue.

The doctor was interrupted by a phone call from a farmer who wanted to know whether it was safe to eat the oranges he was collecting from groves that had been uprooted and bombed during the Israeli invasion. The caller said the oranges had an offensive odor and that when the workers picked them up their hands became itchy.

Audrey Stewart had just spent the morning with Gazan farmers in Tufaa, a village near the border between Gaza and Israel. Israeli soldiers had first evacuated people, then dynamited the houses, then used bulldozers to clear the land, uprooting the orange tree groves. Many people, including children, were picking through the rubble, salvaging belongings and trying to collect oranges. At one point, people began shouting at Audrey, warning her that she was standing next to an unexploded rocket.

The doctor put his head in his hands, after listening to Audrey's report. "I told them to wash everything very carefully. But these are new situations. Really, I don't know how to respond," he said.

Yet he spoke passionately about what he knew regarding families that had been burned or crushed to death when their homes were bombed. "Were their babies a danger to anyone?" he asked us.

"They are lying to us about democracy and Western values," he continued, his voice shaking. "If we were sheep and goats, they would be more willing to help us."

Dr. Saeed Abuhassan was bidding farewell to the doctors he'd worked with in Gaza. He was returning to his work in the United Arab Emirates. But before leaving, he paused to give us a word of advice. "You know, the most important thing you can tell people in your country is that U.S. people paid for many of the weapons used to kill people in Gaza," said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan. "And this, also, is why it's worse than an earthquake."

Kathy Kelly ( kathy@vcnv.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( www.vcnv.org ) She and Audrey Stewart have been in Gaza for the past six days.
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