Friday, February 16, 2007

Iran accuses U.S. of backing terrorists who killed soldiers

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran — A car bomb killed 11 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday in the deadliest attack in years near the Pakistani border, and Iran accused the United States of backing militants to destabilize the country.

A Sunni Muslim militant group called Jundallah, or God's Brigade, which has been blamed for past attacks on Iranian troops, claimed responsibility for the bombing, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.

An al-Qaida-linked group of the same name has carried out attacks in neighboring Pakistan. Iranian officials say the militants in southeast Iran find a safe haven in Pakistan, but it is not clear whether the two groups are connected. Pakistani officials say they are not.

The blast represented a sharp flare-up of violence in the remote southeast corner of Iran, near Pakistan and Afghanistan, that has long been plagued by lawlessness. The area is a key crossing point for opium from Afghanistan and often sees clashes between police and drug gangs.

At the same time, Jundallah has waged a low-level insurgency in the area, led by Abdulmalak Rigi, a member of Iran's ethnic Baluchi minority, a community that is Sunni Muslim and is present in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rigi has said his group is fighting for the rights of impoverished Sunnis under Iran's Shiite government.

Five of those behind Wednesday's explosion were arrested, Soltan Ali Mir, a local Interior Ministry official, told the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The Fars news agency reported four arrested and cited officials saying they were not Iranian citizens.

Iranian officials blamed "insurgents" and "terrorists" for Wednesday's bombing — and accused the United States of backing them to sow instability in Iran.

"This was done by a group that gets support from America," the Islamic Republic News Agency said, quoting unidentified officials.

Iran has increasingly raised the alarm that the United States may attack it or try to foment an uprising against the government as the standoff between the two countries has escalated in recent weeks over the country's nuclear program and over the turmoil in Iraq.

President Bush on Wednesday repeated accusations that Iran was supplying weapons to militants in Iraq and vowed to stop the support. The U.S. has also built up its military presence in the Persian Gulf and has vowed action against Iranian operatives in Iraq.

Iranian officials have often raised concerns that Washington might incite members of Iran's many ethnic and religious minorities against the Shiite-led government.

Wednesday's bombing took place near Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, when a car packed with explosives pulled to a stop in front of a bus carrying members of the Revolutionary Guard.

The car exploded, killing 11 guards and wounding 31, the provincial governor, Hassan Ali Nouri, told IRNA. He said one attacker was also killed.

In Iraq, anyone can make a bomb

Improvised explosive devices don't require international conspiracies.

By Andrew Cockburn

ANDREW COCKBURN is the author of "Rumsfeld, His Rise, Fall and Catastrophic Legacy," published this month by Scribner.

February 16, 2007

PRESIDENT BUSH HAS now definitively stated that bombs known as explosively formed penetrators — EFPs, which have proved especially deadly for U.S. troops in Iraq — are made in Iran and exported to Iraq. But in November, U.S. troops raiding a Baghdad machine shop came across a pile of copper disks, 5 inches in diameter, stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order. This ominous discovery, unreported until now, makes it clear that Iraqi insurgents have no need to rely on Iran as the source of EFPs.

The truth is that EFPs are simple to make for anyone who knows how to do it. Far from a sophisticated assembly operation that might require state supervision, all that is required is one of those disks, some high-powered explosive (which is easy to procure in Iraq) and a container, such as a piece of pipe. I asked a Pentagon analyst specializing in such devices how much each one would cost to make. "Twenty bucks," he answered after a brief calculation. "Thirty at most."

EFPs work by using explosives to compress, melt and shoot a metal projectile — formed from those disks, molded in a concave shape — in a particular direction. They are feared above all else by troops in Iraq because not only can they punch a hole through the armor of an M-1 tank, they are small and light, and thus far easier to carry and plant undetected than the traditional Iraqi improvised explosive device, which is often made from hefty artillery shells.

"You can do as much or more damage with a 5-pound EFP, which is aimed, as with a 200-pound conventional IED, where most of the energy is dissipated away from the target," the Pentagon analyst said. The U.S. has (belatedly) responded to the IED threat by "up-armoring" Humvees and other vulnerable vehicles, but EFPs can cleave through the very thickest armor "like butter," as one Iraq veteran told me.

As of now, these weapons represent only a small fraction of the bombs used against U.S. forces. Last month, according to my Pentagon sources, out of 3,000 IEDs directed at occupation troops, only 2.5% were EFPs. But a further statistic explains why these particular weapons are so feared by soldiers encased in their armored vehicles: Despite the relatively tiny number deployed, since November they have accounted for fully 15% of U.S. bomb casualties, and that percentage is ticking up. Anyone pondering the implications of this trend need only look to the Israeli experience in Lebanon during the 1990s to see where it might end. "These bombs drove the Israelis out of Lebanon," a former Pentagon weapons-effects expert told me unequivocally.

Hezbollah's expertise with EFPs is one reason why the administration, despite minimal intelligence, has been quick to blame Hezbollah's Iranian allies for the proliferation of the devices in Iraq. But EFPs have a venerable history. The IRA used them with lethal effect against British troops in Northern Ireland, as did French resistance fighters against the Germans in World War II. It is only a question of time before someone shows the Taliban how to make them, and then NATO forces in Afghanistan will begin the same ordeal.

Despite their known lethality, these weapons weren't taken into account by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's program of military "transformation." Indeed, Rumsfeld bequeathed the Army the Future Combat Systems, a $168-billion extravaganza of computers, sensors and robots deemed by its proponents so deadly to a foe that armor on U.S. military vehicles might be dispensed with altogether.

Once it became impossible to ignore the threat of all kinds of "home-made" bombs, and EFPs in particular, Rumsfeld responded in orthodox fashion by throwing money at the problem.

A "joint IED defeat" task force was created to address the issue, and last year it was granted $3.32 billion, but with little result. True, each Humvee patrolling Iraqi roads now carries two specially designed jammers, costing $100,000 apiece, that jam radio signals detonating roadside bombs. The other side has simply switched to wire detonators or infrared systems. One hundred towers spouting remote cameras, at $12 million each, watch main roads for bomb planters, with no improvement in attack and casualty statistics.

Rumsfeld's mentor, defense intellectual Andrew Marshall, marketed the phrase "revolution in military affairs" as a justification for high-tech programs such as Future Combat Systems. But those copper disks represent the real revolution in military affairs, and it is not in our favor.

US Soldiers Run an Iraqi Off the Road

NY Sun on Lowey’s $86-Million ‘Hold’: Carrying Water for Neocon Republican; AIPAC’s Reply to Mecca Accord

Another of my Jewish journalist friends met with Nita Lowey yesterday, who firmly rejected the notion that she'd coordinated her hold with AIPAC. According to the reporter, Lowey sounded completely sincere and he believed her. The State Dept. also seemed to approve of the hold believing (falsely imo) that it will give them "leverage" in the upcoming summit with Olmert and Abbas. In reality, I think the party we really need leverage with is Israel, not the Palestinians. State also claims the hold will only last "two weeks." We shall see.

I do wonder though whether Lowey ever stopped to consider how her action would look to others, especially those in the peace camp and among Arabs. I'll concede that it's possible she was entirely sincere and not following someone else's agenda. But given the history of actions like hers, the world would be entirely justified in suspecting an ulterior motive. What, I wonder, is Lowey prepared to do to advance the cause of peace in terms of bringing the two sides together to negotiate? Because putting a hold on $86 million doesn't do that.

UPDATE: I just spoke to Nita Lowey's foreign affairs press representative who again confirmed that Lowey has "legitimate concerns" that the $86 million might not end up in the right hands. When I asked on what basis she made that judgment, he replied that it was based on a "classified briefing" whose content Lowey could not reveal. When I pointed out to him that Reuters reported that Lowey had also not made clear what answers she needed before she would remove her hold, he said that the answers Lowey needs also are in the realm of classified intelligence. I noted to the press rep that some outsiders might construe this as Lowey saying that nothing could allay her concerns.

Lowey's staffer assured me that the hold was not indefinite, but rather was meant for a short time until she received the answers she needed. I reminded him that Shmuel Rosner has not reported this, but rather has mentioned the hold was indefinite, thus giving the impression that Lowey might not intend to remove it. The Lowey rep told me that was unfortunate and that the NY Sun had also gotten the story wrong and issued a correction. When I mentioned that Rosner was reporting the hold as an act of the "U.S. Congress," rather than a single representative, he said such a statement was "flat out erroneous." I suggested he get in touch either with Rosner or Haaretz to tell them that.

I closed the interview by saying that while some in the Jewish community and neocon camp might be happy with this hold, many other might construe it as a act hostile to the possibility for peace.

UPDATE II: Lowey's rep pointed me to a New York Sun story which renews my suspicions of AIPAC complicity in the entire 'hold' deal:

The original push for delaying the funding for security training came from Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking minority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who first asked Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the Democratic chairman of the committee, to place a hold on the $86 million. Only committee chairman are allowed to place information-related holds on foreign operations funding.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Lantos, Lynne Weil, said the congressman declined Ms. Ros-Lehtinen's request in January because the White House had yet to announce its intention to send the money to the Palestinian Authority. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen then took up the matter with Ms. Lowey, who placed the hold on the funding last week.

The $86 million, intended for the training of a small security service loyal to Mr. Abbas, has been a worry for America's pro-Israel lobby

Ros-Lehtinen is a devout Republican neocon, notorious anti-Castro warrior who also supports the most conservative pro-Israel positions. It is telling that Tom Lantos, no slouch when it comes to supporting Israel's interests in Congress, would not do Ros-Lehtinen's bidding. One wonders why Nita felt compelled to do so.

To be fair, Lowey's press rep said the Sun ran a correction on this story, but I don't see any link to it on the Sun site.

· Filed under Mideast Peace, Politics & Society

aipac opposed funding for palestinians new york sun nita lowey congressional hold on funds for abbas ros lehtinen requested $86 million hold on palestinian appropriation



Lowey’s Hold on $86-Million Palestinian Appropriation, AIPAC’s Reply to Mecca Accord

I wrote yesterday about Nita Lowey's semi-mysterious hold on the $86-million appropriation approved by Congress recently which was meant to bolster Mahmoud Abbas' position within Palestinian politics. My surmise was that first of all this was done at the behest of AIPAC and that it was meant as a shot across the bow aimed at Condi Rice as she prepares for the three-way (Israel, Palestine, U.S.) summit on Monday.

A journalist writing for a nation Jewish publication provided some eye-opening background. He says this move is "typical of AIPAC's influence in Congress." The hold was invoked before the Mecca conference, almost "reflexively." In other words, Lowey placed the hold in the expectation that a Palestinian unity government might come out of the talks. And she wished to signal that such a government, no matter what it's composition or platform, would NOT receive any support from the U.S. government, just as Hamas' government has not until now. The reporter surmises that Lowey may not have even consulted AIPAC because it was something "she knew they'd want."

Amazing. That would make members of Congress something like the Golem. AIPAC programs them with its acronym engraved on their foreheads like the word emet on the Golem's, and they go out and do the masters bidding without even a needing specific directions to do specific acts. They're internally programmed. What does this say about our legislative process and AIPAC's influence upon it?

As if to buttress the point, the journalist adds, "a lot of stuff that makes AIPAC happy happens without their even asking for it." In this particular case, Lowey knew it was common practice to "slow down any allocation for the Palestinians." This also reminds me of your trusty pet dog who brings you your slippers in the morning and then rolls over for you to scratch her tummy. What do you think Nita's reward might be? A scratch on the tummy? Or a few more tens of thousands in pro-Israel PAC money? Or a behind the scenes call when she wants a committee chairmanship (a la Jane Harman)?

I understand from my source that dovish groups which favor the allocation - Israel Policy Forum and Americans for Peace Now - "are pushing back." Keep on pushing.

And on the Rosner front, those of you who read yesterday's post will remember my critique of Rosner's abysmally inaccuate reporting on this story. After writing to David Landau, Haaretz's English editor, the paper retained yesterday's erroneous article on the site. But now, they've put up a newer version which corrects two small mistakes which I reported to them. But of course, it still leaves a whole host of other mistakes, some even more significant. The new headline still mistakenly describes Lowey's individual hold as a hold placed by the "U.S. Congress." But it no longer refers to the $86 million as destined for the "PA." Instead it more correctly notes it is meant for "Abbas." The new article no longer claims "a number of congressmen [sic] are skeptical about the funding." Instead it now says: "Due to the uncertainty of a few legislators, the transfer has been postponed." Which is virtually the same intent. I'd noted to Landau that Lowey couldn't reasonably be called a "congressman." So they changed the word to "legislators," but retained the unsupported charge that others beside Lowey supported the hold. The new article also retains the mistake of calling Mahmoud Abbas "chairman" of the PA, when he is "president." Gotta watch that Rosner. He'll carry water for AIPAC every time. Just like Lowey.

· Filed under Mideast Peace, Politics & Society

aipac opposes palestinian unity government jane harman aipac mecca accords nita lowey hold on $86 million palestinian appropriation


On "IRAN": There Is No "THERE" There : Juan Cole on Olbermann

Keith Olbermann Shows Convincingly How The Bush Administration is Trying To Play The Same "Dog and Pony" Show That it Did On Iraq, and The Yellow Cake Uranium, Now On Iran. But, With Everyone Being "STUNG" Once, They are Very Apprehensive in "OWNING UP" To This Information. That includes The Chairman of The Joint Chief of Staff, General Pace.

The Battle of Stalingrad, er, Baghdad

February 12, 2007 Issue
Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative

Feeding the Guerillas

Combating Iraq’s militias means declaring war on the communities they govern.

by Martin Sieff

Think 20,000 more American troops in Baghdad will make Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and the other Iraqi militias roll over and say uncle? Think again.

The Bush administration’s policymaking in Iraq remains where it has always been—at least three years behind what is actually happening on the ground. Gen. Dave Petraeus is being sent out as the new U.S. ground forces commander. Middle and junior level U.S. Army and Marine officers are eagerly snapping up copies of the just republished paperback version of Sir Alistair Horne’s A Savage War of Peace, his classic account of the Algerian War of Independence against France. (Let us here pause to note that Paul Wolfowitz, in testimony before a congressional committee, referred to it as a war against Spanish colonial occupation. He couldn’t even get that right.) None of this will make the slightest bit of difference.

U.S. policymakers are finally paying lip service to the idea that the Sunni insurgents in Iraq are indeed waging a full-scale guerrilla war against American forces. The trouble is that this conception of the Iraq conflict has been obsolete ever since Sunni insurgents bombed the al-Askariya Mosque in Samara on Feb. 22, 2006. Shi’ite militias across Iraq, and especially in Baghdad, responded with a savage wave of random killings in reprisal. That was the key moment when the Iraq conflict metastasized into a sectarian civil war between the entire Sunni and Shi’ite communities.

It is not even a “clean” or simple civil war, for it involves conflicts between rival warring militias within each community. Yet none of the 1,500 overpaid civilian analysts in the U.S. Department of Defense have yet awakened to this truth: paramilitary militias in both communities provide the only effective government in Iraq. The Rube Goldberg constitutional machinery that the Bush administration so lovingly labored over to produce free and fair elections, an independent parliament, and then a Shi’ite-dominated government, has failed to provide reliable basic services or security. The new Iraqi army and police are thoroughly penetrated by the Shi’ite militias, and every Iraqi knows it. The more U.S. forces come into conflict with the Shi’ite militias in Baghdad, the more they run the risk that the guns they provide to the new Iraqi army and police will be turned on them, at first in increasingly common “random incidents” and eventually in a general uprising.

The British had to deal with three general and very popular uprisings of the Iraqi army—in 1936, 1941, and 1958. And they had spent decades ensuring its loyalty and dependability. This is what makes the “three-to-one” formula—putting three Iraqi army battalions into Baghdad for every single American battalion backstopping them—that Rep. Duncan Hunter, the former Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, continues to push on the Bush administration so unconnected to reality. The Iraqi army is fated to eventually turn its guns on the troops that empowered it.

But suppose this grim scenario does not come to pass. Surely the overwhelming firepower of the five existing American combat brigades in Baghdad and the “surge” so touted by President Bush, combined with an avid reading by U.S. combat officers of Horne’s classic text on Algeria will bring Baghdad to heel?

Alas no. First, champions of the Algiers-Baghdad analogy neglect to note that the entire population of Algiers in 1956 was only half a million. It doubled to a million by 1960. The Casbah that was the heart of the FLN guerrilla forces before they were tactically smashed in the 1958 Battle of Algiers was less than 100,000. But the total population of Baghdad today is 7 million with 2 million of those living in the Shi’ite-dominated working-class district of Sadr City alone. And the U.S. Armed Forces, thanks to the political pusillanimity of President Bush and the romantic fantasies of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his neocon “experts” that they could wage sci-fi super-war on the manpower cheap does not have the half million conscript soldiers that the French Fourth Republic, determined to hold on to Algeria, flooded into that unhappy country. Adding an extra 20,000 troops to make the difference in pacifying a city of 7 million is a drop in the ocean—or, perhaps more aptly, a spoonful of sand in the Arabian Desert.

Neither the U.S. Armed Forces nor the ramshackle Iraqi parliamentary-democratic system that American authorities have imposed on Iraq have brought peace, prosperity, security, or basic daily services to the Iraqi capital. For these, the people of Baghdad, especially the ever-growing Shi’ite majority, have come to rely on their neighborhood militias, which have become the real government of the Iraqi capital. “Beirut Rules” or “Belfast Rules” now operate in the city of Baghdad.

In Belfast from 1969 through 1994 and in Beirut from 1975 through 1991, the professional armies of major states never made the mistake of thinking they could totally annihilate the guerrilla/paramilitary forces operating in the country.

Belfast had always been a British city, so the British army was never an army of military occupation. The guerrilla insurgency of the Irish Republican Army came only from a small minority of the Catholic community of Northern Ireland, which itself was only one-third of the total population. The British army managed to tame the IRA only by waging relatively limited military operations against it and putting its main emphasis on intelligence and diplomatic/political dialogue with the political wing of Sinn Fein.

The Syrian Army in Beirut was far more of an outside, foreign presence than the British army in Northern Ireland ever was. Yet for all their famed ruthlessness, after their initial entry into Lebanon in the mid-1970s, the Syrians never made the mistake of trying to wage a direct war of annihilation against any of the most powerful sectarian militias.

The reason for this was that in both cases the militia forces were deeply rooted in their own local community strongholds and were seen by a significant plurality—and often a majority—of their inhabitants as the community’s defenders. War against them was therefore seen as war against the entire community. The more force that was used by outsiders against militia forces and the more civilian casualties incurred, the more the remaining civilians, especially the families and friends of the dead and injured, would be motivated to rally to the militias’ cause.

That is the nightmare scenario that the U.S. Armed Forces could face if they are forced to fight a campaign of annihilation or repression against the dominant Shi’ite militias that increasingly control the city of Baghdad.

The idea is for the American military to act in a supportive role in partnership with the Iraqi police and army, which would be operating on behalf of the democratically elected Iraqi government. But the reality would be far different. The Iraqi armed forces and police remain highly unreliable. Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the commander of the U.S. military’s effort to train Iraqi forces, publicly admitted on Dec. 18 that as many as 25 percent of the senior commanders of the Iraqi police had significant ties to the Shi’ite militias.

The more U.S. firepower and military force used against the militias, and the more civilian casualties inflicted as a by-product of military operations, the more the Shi’ite population of Baghdad would become bitterly opposed to America’s presence. As the conflict escalated, U.S forces would become embattled and besieged. The Iraqi government—a government in little more than name—at best would try to help ineffectually and at worst could easily become a conduit for intelligence and sabotage on behalf of the Shi’ite militias.

The U.S. Army historically has had little experience with the complexities, viciousness, and enormous casualties of full-scale street-fighting in urban environments. Horne’s great book is no guide to that kind of experience nor does it pretend to be. Horrific as the Algerian War of Independence and its Battle for Algiers were, they were not remotely on that scale.

That is because the tactical doctrine of street fighting in cities is one of the most difficult to master in modern war, and it requires far more expertise than the overwhelming firepower that the U.S. Marines and other combat forces poured into Fallujah and other Iraqi towns and Baghdadi districts whenever they felt they had to take them. The German Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army at Stalingrad were 300,000 strong, more than double the current total U.S. troop strength for the whole of Iraq. They outnumbered the combat troops of Red Army Gen. Vassili Chuikov’s 62nd Army by factors of four or five to one. And their use of firepower was unrestrained, to put it mildly: an estimated half a million Russian civilians died in the great siege. Yet it was the Wehrmacht forces that were outfought, decimated, and eventually annihilated. For the previously invincible Wehrmacht had no operational doctrine for street fighting in large cities, and Chuikov was the world’s leading expert on the subject. He had played a major role in successfully defending Madrid for the forces of the Spanish Republic in 1936.

The U.S. Army today has no effective systematic doctrine for the capture, pacification, and holding of entire cities either. Rumsfeld, his Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and their Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith did not think the subject was important enough to warrant their attention during their fateful stewardship of the Armed Forces of the United States.

As the Battle of Baghdad escalates in the coming months, the book American combat officers will find most timely to read for useful and accurate historical analogies will no longer be Savage War of Peace but another recent classic of military history by another British historian of renown: Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-43 by Anthony Beevor.

Martin Sieff is national security correspondent for United Press International. He has reported from more than 60 countries, covered seven guerrilla wars and ethnic conflicts, and been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

Experience a dynamic and intensive exploration of the last days of Hitler's Germany

You cannot make stuff like this up.


Feb 16, 2007

The Ultimate Mission to Israel June 11-18,2007

Israel Law Center

Experience a dynamic and intensive eight day exploration of Israel's struggle for survival and security in the Middle East today.

  • Briefings by Mossad officials and Shin Bet commanders.
  • Briefing by officers in the IDF Intelligence and Operations branches.
  • Inside tour of the IAF unit who carries out targeted killings.
  • Live exhibition of penetration raids in Arab territory.
  • Observe a trial of Hamas terrorists in an IDF military court.
  • First hand tours of the Lebanese front-line military positions and the Gaza border check-points.
  • Inside tour of the controversial Security Fence and secret intelligence bases.
  • Meeting Israel's Arab agents who infiltrate the terrorist groups and provide real-time intelligence.
  • Briefing by Israel's war heros who saved the country.
  • Meetings with senior Cabinet Ministers and other key policymakers.
  • Small airplane tour of the Galilee, Jeep rides in the Golan hights, water activities on Lake Kinneret, a cook-out barbecue and a Shabbat enjoying the rich religious and historic wonders of Jerusalem's Old City.

Operation Darius: U.S Nuclear Attack on Iran

Friday, 2/16/07 3:14:48 PM

Operation Darius

Unbeknownst to Congress and the American people, on November 15, 2006 Bush and Cheney launched their previously approved 12-Phase secret plan to attack Iran with nuclear weapons.

The 12-Phase Plan, now fully underway, is a déjà vu of the way Bush and Cheney deceived and manipulated Congress and the American people into supporting the first invasion and occupation of Iraq – making people believe that Iraq was an immediate world threat – exactly as they are now doing with Iran.

And the cowardly Congress who was elected to stop the war in Iraq will do nothing but play political games while the mentally compromised, delusional Bush and Cheney plunge the world into this nuclear holocaust.

Here is how the secret 12-Phase Plan – already fully underway - will work, resulting in the first nuclear war and greatest human catastrophe in history.

The nuclear attack on Iran would be in 12 phases:

Phase 1: Create a national diversion by focusing the Congress and the voters’ attention on whether or not to escalate our troops in Iraq, completely occupying Congress, the media and the voters.

Phase 2: Bush and Cheney are fully aware this fifth surge will fail as certainly as the previous four surges, but it will preoccupy America and the world while they secretly move forward with their nuclear attack on Iran.

Phase 3: While everyone is focused on the escalation in Iraq, make an illegal, immoral Preemptive Strike on the Sovereign Nation of Somalia, on the pretense of getting a dangerous 9 year old terrorist, but for the real purpose of testing how the public, the Congress and the world would react to another Bush preemptive strike, whose real purpose is to prepare the world for Bush’s preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear building sites.

Phase 4: If there was no real outcry to this violation of Somalia’s sovereignty, a further provocation of Iran would take place by attacking, killing and imprisoning Iran nationals and envoys in Iraq with an intense propaganda campaign that these were Iranians helping Iraq’s insurgents by attacking Americans directly, i.e., Iran surreptitiously attacking America. Of course some Iranians in Iraq were, and always have been, but others were sovereign envoys protected by international law, a clear way of provoking Iran.

Phase 5: Quietly send two full carrier groups – not one, but two - into the area loaded with patriot missiles, and in their top secret cargos, secretly developed nuclear field weapons - shoulder holstered nuclear “bunker buster” missiles - secretly developed against Congress’s explicit refusal to develop and pay for these incredibly dangerous weapons that could fall into the hands of terrorists and other American enemies all over the world.

Phase 6: Continue preparing America and the world for the nuclear attack on Iran by Bush casually mentioning, almost in passing in his 2007 State of the Union Address, that he send patriot missiles and air carrier groups to Iran.

Phase 7: If there was no real outcry, either in America or the world, to the first international illegal preemptive strike in Somalia, do a second strike in Somalia to desensitize world outrage for any future preemptive strikes – especially the crucial preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Phase 8: Do a preemptive, absolutely illegal air strike in violation of international law on Iran’s key 3,000 newly developed nuclear facilities with traditional bombs.

Phase 9: Depending on the severity of world response, especially Iran and North Korea’s, send a second preemptive air attack with one plane carrying one nuclear weapon.

Phase 10: Should North Korea threaten to send, actually send, or even think of sending their over one-million man army across the border to South Korea’s capitol, Seoul, just 30 miles from the border, with only our 37,000 troops standing in the way, we will – for the first time in history - through Special Op forces who have been fully operational in Iran for months, launch an attack on a key Iranian nuclear facility with a Nuclear Field Weapon - one of our secretly developed Shoulder Holstered Bunker Buster Nuclear Missiles.

Iran, Syria and North Korea’s Fatal Miscalculation

Phase 11: Every Head of State, including Iran and North Korea, are absolutely convinced that no sane leader would use a nuclear weapon to attack another country. Unfortunately not one realizes the extremely serious mental illness and delusions of grandeur of Bush and Cheney. (See evidence of how seriously Bush and Cheney are both mentally compromised).

All of the Military experts, politicians, pundits and talking heads who say we’ll never attack Iran because we are already spread hopelessly thin militarily, are wrong – and for the same reason: The same delusions of grandeur that caused Bush and Cheney to predict repeatedly that we would be greeted as liberators with rose petals in Iraq, have Bush and Cheney absolutely certain that we will have to unleash only two nuclear weapons – one via air and the other a land missile – and the whole world will cave in to our military power. No one will dare fight back, and Bush and Cheney will be the only military superpower in the world.

Bush and Cheney are absolutely convinced every nation will be so terrified, especially by the nuclear land missile’s flexibility, that this fear will completely nullify any troop numbers, no matter how overwhelming. Bush and Cheney are absolutely convinced our overwhelming nuclear power, and willingness to use these air and land nuclear weapons, will force all opponents, from Iran and North Korea, to Syria and Chavez, into immediate submission and our control, forcing them to submit to all conditions we request, and ending any nuclear threat they, or any other nation, might be thinking of developing.

They are absolutely convinced that every nation will so fear a Special Ops use of a nuclear bunker buster in their nation, they will restore Bush and Cheney to being masters of the universe which they stopped being with their failures in Afghanistan (“Forgot-us-stan”), Iraq, Lebanon – and even Katrina.

Bush and Cheney are convinced that whatever negative reaction there will be towards the US at this first use of nuclear weapons in a war, it will be more than offset by the United States regaining its position as the world’s sole military superpower able to crush any opposition, actual or developing, to America’s goals, and give us complete control over all the oil and gas reserves in the Middle East, and elsewhere. In short, it will restore The Bush Doctrine, making America the world’s only superpower, and keep nuclear weapons from being developed anywhere else.

Phase 12: Bush and Cheney are certain that the cowardly Congress, who have brutally betrayed the 2006 voters who gave them control of Congress to stop the Iraq war, are so afraid of even passing aggressive legislation to stop the war, cut off funding, etc., and are so intimidated they spend their time endlessly debating non-binding resolutions and playing partisan games for the 2008 election, will never have the backbone to stop them - even when they discover the hard proof of Bush and Cheney’s mentally ill, already underway plans to attack and invade Iran.

The only possible way to stop them at this late stage is by a Congressional Impeachment Inquiry (not even an Impeachment Trial, but just an Impeachment Inquiry. See Impeachment Process).

And they are right!

The only thing that can stop Bush and Cheney plunging the world into a nuclear holocaust is an Impeachment Hearing. Nothing else will come close.

Because the Congress is so cowardly they won’t even pass binding resolutions to end the war, they will never call for an impeachment inquiry.

Only we, the people, the betrayed 2006 voters, can stop the war we voted to stop!

Only we, the betrayed 2006 voters, can rise up and demand an immediate impeachment inquiry.

And if Congress continues to play their political, non-partisan games for the 2008 elections, we - the people, the betrayed 2006 voters - could hold our own nationally televised Citizens Impeachment Inquiry in a desperate bid to stop this nuclear crisis from becoming a nuclear war.

We have 90-120 days to do it, or the madness of Bush and Cheney will plunge the world into a nuclear Armageddon.

Journey of a ("Self-Hating") Jew

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Among other events in recent history, the formation of the group Independent Jewish Voices in the UK has once again pushed the debate on Israel and Palestine into the spotlight. Along with this, the usual, tired and outrageously misplaced allegations of “self-hatred” are made by the more shrill voices among the “Israel can do no wrong” lobby. Here are some of my ruminations on this discussion.

David Rovics

There are few issues more divisive in US society, including on the left, than the issue of Israel and Palestine. Even the word “Palestine” is divisive! The state of Israel claims to represent Jews worldwide. This is a preposterous and plainly incorrect claim, but one often made and often assumed, to the detriment of much of humanity. People who vocally oppose Israeli policies are labelled anti-Semites. Jews who oppose Israeli policies – or who dare to question the right of this apartheid state to exist as such – are labelled “self-hating Jews.” Supporters of Israel are using historic anti-Semitism and the memory of the Nazi holocaust as a means to stifle dissent. Reason and compassion is not on their side, so they resort to name-calling. I have some personal experiences with this state of affairs, and I thought I’d recount some of them and share some thoughts on the subject.

I used to be lovers with a woman from Germany. She and I were visiting my grandmother at her retirement community in Florida. It seems about half the Jewish population of Brooklyn ends up in Florida by the time they’re 65, and grandma Diane was among them. One of the women grandma played Bridge with was a German Jewish holocaust survivor. When she met my partner, there was something she clearly felt compelled to tell her. “We were Germans,” she said. “We were Germans.” That was all, three words.

Any non-fascist historian can confirm this fact. By the early twentieth century most German Jews were what they call “assimilated.” They were about as German as any other German. For many, their Jewish identity was about as important to them as which Christian denomination their neighbors belonged to. They were integrated members of a European society, Europeans, Germans. They were communists, social democrats, conservatives. They were laborers and they were bosses. They were renters and landlords, rich, poor, and in between. Obviously, the rise of Hitler changed all that, and suddenly Jews recognized themselves as Jews again. The Nazis wanted to kill all of them, so Jewish identity suddenly became a matter of life and death. When people are thus threatened, oppressed, and ultimately slaughtered in their millions, this sort of thing tends to bring people together to attempt to defend themselves. Thus from this disparate group of people once again is born a “community.”

Enter 21st-century USA. There is no such thing as a “Jewish community.” There is no such thing as a “Christian community” either, or an “Irish community,” “Italian community,” etc. There is no oppression to speak of in the US or Europe directed at people based on their Jewish or Christian identity, any more than there is still oppression against people of Irish or Italian descent. Certainly there used to be all of these things, but it’s been a while. In the forty years I’ve been living in the US I have hardly ever heard a serious anti-Semitic remark. I’ve never been victimized in any way as a result of being Jewish, and I don’t think I have ever met anyone of my generation who has had a problem with anti-Semitism of any significance, either.

Jewishness of course is an unusual phenomenon that is often defined as a religious, ethnic, and/or quasi-national identity, depending on who’s doing the defining. Regardless of the definition, there is plenty of common history for Jews anywhere, but like Catholics, Poles or whoever else in the modern US, Jews do not have a common identity in terms of their politics, professions, geography, etc. Jews are not ghettoized anymore, whether by law or by a generalized discrimination. They are rich, poor and in between, and they live anywhere in the country where you might find other people. Sometimes in large numbers, sometimes in very small numbers. Sometimes they have contact with each other as Jews for one reason or another, usually they don’t.

Once I had a gig at a law school in Vermont. Three people came to hand out literature about my alleged anti-Semititic views to people coming to the show. These three people were in a group that called itself The Jewish Community, as I recall. But in the civilized discussion that followed my concert, it turned out that there were more than three people of Jewish lineage in the crowd who were not members of The Jewish Community and didn’t share their views on Israel. It didn’t seem to me that these Jews were any less Jewish than The Jewish Community -- they just weren’t in a group that called itself The Jewish Community.

This also, it seems to me, is the distinction between groups like AIPAC and the rest of the Jewish population. The rest of us don’t tend to organize as a “Jewish community,” but as whoever we are – environmentalists, anarchists, union members, real estate developers, whatever.

Of course, there is plenty of oppression in the US. Racism, for example, permeates society. Race, of course, is a social construct with no biological basis, but it is a social construct that is the basis for both historical and ongoing discrimination of massive proportions. But if a Jew, a Catholic, or even a Muslim is white, then he or she is white, and treated as such. This is how modern US society functions. There is a sort of caste system, and it changes in various ways over time. It used to be a liability to be most anything other than a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. This is no longer the case. Over the course of the post-war period the “white” category has expanded to include light-skinned Jews and other historically-oppressed ethnic and religious groups such as Irish and Italian Catholics.

This is not to say that white people don’t suffer from discrimination. You can still be discriminated against according to your regional accent, how you dress, whether you can read or write, etc. As a youthful, long-haired hippie driving an old beat-up car, I was pulled over by the cops many times more than most other white people, probably for all of those offenses – being young, having long hair, and driving an old car. But I’m quite certain it was not for being Jewish.

History is another matter entirely. While the label of “self-hating” is generally misapplied and used to try to silence Jews critical of Israel, self-hatred certainly exists, and other conditions like it. I think of my nanny when I was very young, living in upper Manhattan. She was a deeply loving woman full of enthusiasm for life, and children, her own two sons and the many young children she took care of. I visited her now and then for decades after my family moved from New York City when I was a small child. She was full of stories. She talked about all the gangsters in the area and how they never pick on her because she’s known them all since they were babies. New York was her city. She had a strange accent, impossible to place. She said she was English. She met an Italian-American jazz musician there in England and moved back to New York with him after the war. She talked about being a teenager in London during the blitz, and how she used to use the air raids to her advantage, to spend more time with boys. “Sorry mom, I can’t come home now, there’s an air raid happening.”

She raised her kids to be Irish-American Catholics in New York City. Several years ago I was visiting New York and I gave her a call. Her eldest son answered the phone. His mother had died a few months before, he told me. He also told me that he had found out during the last year or so of her life that she was not from England -- she was a German Jew. She was one of the last Jewish children sent to England during the Kindertransports. For whatever reason, she had hidden her identity from everyone, her friends, her family. She told her son on her deathbed about how her society, Germany, had rejected her. Perhaps the rejection was too much to bear, and she had to try to forget about her past, her German and Jewish identity. Perhaps the term “self-hating” could in some measure apply to this wonderful, vibrant, but apparently troubled woman, although the term seems far too simplistic to fit such a complex person so full of love for humanity.

Perhaps it was experiences she had after arriving in the US that strengthened her resolve to keep her ethnic and national identity hidden. My grandmother’s mother was from Russia, and spoke Yiddish, never becoming very fluent in English. When my dad was young it was Yiddish that the matriarchs of the house spoke, their secret language which they never taught him. Grandma Diane’s parents were refugees, leaving Russia because they didn’t want to be killed in the pogroms and didn’t wanted to be drafted into the Tsar’s army, a death sentence in itself. Before the Nazi holocaust, Diane Rovics and her mother were in touch with dozens of relatives in Europe, Diane once told me. Her mother died soon after the war, and I don’t know how much Diane tried to get back in touch with her relatives across the ocean, but she said she never heard from any of them, and presumed them all to be dead.

Grandma Diane’s Jewish identity was always terribly complex for her. For a long time she was looking for housing outside of Brooklyn. This search went on for years before she eventually moved to New Jersey and then Florida. In every community she visited there were either too many Jews or not enough Jews. She wanted the safety of having lots of Jews around, but didn’t want anybody else to notice. When I was a child she often told me that I was lucky to have blond hair and blue eyes and not to “look Jewish.” She’d say the same about our last name, from Grandpa Alvin’s part of the family, Rovics, which she informed me was not a typical Jewish last name.

Once when she left the safety of New York City to visit Connecticut about a half century ago, land of the “gentiles” back then, there was a sign on the beach saying “no Jews or dogs allowed.” I’m sure she had many other similar experiences. Being Jewish was for her a source of strength and a source of anguish, but mostly anguish. She always just wanted to fit in, to be an American, and ultimately, she did, and she was. She was traumatized by her family history and by the Nazi holocaust, but she wanted to put it behind her. She would often tell her idealistic leftwing grandson, “you can’t change the world.” She’d tell me to just look out for myself, get a good job, go to business school, become a dentist, be a respectable part of society and hopefully you will be respected in turn, or at least left alone.

For other assimilated, white, light-haired, blue-eyed US citizens such as Diane’s daughter, my aunt Judy, who knows where life could have gone. But as with so many others, the Jewish genocide that was going on when she was born in 1941 made a lasting impact. The Zionist movement for a Jewish homeland, not very popular among Jews worldwide before the Nazi holocaust, became much more popular after it. Lots of Jews – though far from all – joined that bandwagon, and my aunt was one of them. We haven’t spoken in years, but from what I understand, for her and her synogogue in New Jersey, criticism of Israel is completely unacceptable, there is no room for debate.

For people like Judy, “never again” means “never again to us.” Fuck everybody else, especially Arabs. The fascists in Europe killed us, nobody stopped them, and now if we need to steal somebody else’s land in order to have a home, so be it. People like Judy invent all kinds of outrageous theories to justify the fundamentally racist movement that has led to the state of Israel. There are no Palestinians, they’re all Arabs, and the 800 million Arabs in the world all hate Jews and want to “drive the Jews into the sea.” The Palestinians are really Jordanians and should be just as happy there as in the land of their ancestors. The hundreds of Palestinian villages destroyed by the Zionists never really existed. The Palestinians were all nomads if they weren’t Jordanian. The refugee problem is one created by the Arab states -- not the Jews who drove the refugees off their land.

People like Judy live in a sea of lies, and are miserable. At least they’re miserable. Hating other people so vehemently – Arabs, your fellow Jewish critics, and whoever else – causes one to be miserable. I’m sure there must be some happy ones out there, but the “ardent Zionists” I meet tend to be about as miserable as other members of hate groups I’ve met. I remember seeing the Orange marchers in Glasgow one time. What a miserable bunch. They all looked so pathetic, those men and boys dressed in their antiquated outfits, singing songs about being “knee-deep in Fenian blood.” These people have decided that the solution to their perceived problems lies in the oppression of another people. Not only does this kind of mentality breed misery, but it also doesn’t work.

Disenfranchised people always struggle for their liberty. Sometimes their struggles will be crushed, as in the case of the German left in the 1930’s. Sometimes their struggles will meet with relative success, such as the European labor movements that have been largely responsible for creating many of the most prosperous societies on Earth. Other times the oppression of a people leads to an ongoing struggle for justice that goes on for decades, such as the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. There can never possibly be peace and security for Israel as long as there are millions of impoverished, angry refugees surrounding it, no matter how high the walls they build, no matter how many children they massacre, no matter how many youths they torture in their prisons. History has demonstrated this fact, over and over again. Where there is oppression there will be resistance. The resistance may or may not be successful, but it will always harm the oppressor to one degree or another. This is not mere rhetoric. It is history and current events, all over the world.

There are those for whom “never again” takes on a very different meaning than for people like my aunt. For them, these lessons of history are learned. Of course, such people have existed since long before the Nazi holocaust, but the holocaust also was responsible for creating lots more of them. People who believe oppression should be opposed in all it’s forms, and those struggling for their lives and liberty should be supported. For these people, the term “us” means something much bigger than Jews, Catholics, Americans, or some other such limited category. Bob Steck is one such example.

Bob Steck died last December at the age of 95. He was a friend of mine, who I used to see much more of back when he lived near my mother in Connecticut, before he and his wife moved to Arizona. Bob grew up near Davenport, Iowa. When he was a boy in the 1920’s, Davenport was a town full of socialist intellectuals. The countryside around the town was full of radical farmers. When the fascist generals rebelled against the democratically-elected government in Spain in 1936, Bob was one of many thousands of Americans who volunteered – against the wishes of the US government – to fight fascism in Europe. Bob had never been to Spain, and I’m not sure if he had ever even met a Spaniard before, out there in the middle of the farm belt. He was not fighting for people he knew, or for “his people” in some kind of limited sense – he was fighting for humanity, for the future, for justice, for dignity.

Along with Bob, thousands of young men and women joined the International Brigades from England, Ireland and elsewhere. The biggest contingents of people ready to die in the fight against fascism came from Germany and Italy. After more than a year fighting the war in Spain he was captured, and spent 16 months in a concentration camp where he was regularly beaten, where the conditions were atrocious. Some German Nazis visited the camp once and measured everybody’s faces, thinking they could tell the Jews apart from the others by the size of their noses. He was Jewish, though that never occurred to me until one morning at his house when he made a particularly tasteless Matzo Ball omelette for me. Most of the Americans to go to Spain were killed there, but Bob was one of the those who ultimately returned home.

More than anything, Bob was a communist, and a historical optimist. He would tell me that ever since society has been divided into classes, several thousand years ago for much of the planet, there has been a class struggle, and this struggle will continue until we eventually abolish poverty, racism, and these sorts of divisions in society. Just as he fought against fascism in Europe, he fought against racism in the US. He was the Director of Activities of Camp Unity, a daring inter-racial working-class resort in upstate New York. He saw himself as a part of a movement, not as an exceptional individual, though he was most certainly both. He taught history for 30 years in the public schools of New York City, playing his part in the evolution of society, with books and lectures, just as he had in Spain with rifles and supply trucks. Yes, he was Jewish, and like so many Jews and so many other people of his generation, he was a communist first and foremost.

Bob was a very stoic man, by his own admission. He was stoic before the Spanish Civil War, but being held in the concentration camp taught him stoicism to a much larger degree. Never let the guards know how badly you are suffering, or it will demoralize the other prisoners. This was his view. I don’t know how much he may have had to question his beliefs from time to time, but when I asked him what his thoughts were on Israel, his response was quick and unequivocal. There must be justice for the Palestinians.

Long before I ever went to Israel I had strong opinions on the behavior of the Israeli government, and whether there should even be an Israeli government as such (that is, a government wherein non-Jews are systematically discriminated against, disenfranchised or killed). I had never been there, but my impression was that it was a colonial state, a society of settlers, like South Africa, Australia, the US, Canada and others. One of many societies where European invaders had colonized the place at gunpoint and either killed or driven out the indigenous population. The scars of living in societies like these can be seen on anybody living in them, whether they are members of one of the oppressed groups or one of the privileged groups. Whether they are being killed, doing the killing, or giving the orders to fire.

I was uncertain what to do when in 1999 I received an invitation from the Israeli Folk Music Society to do a tour of Israel that they would set up. But I quickly decided I should do it. I lived in one society that was brutally colonized by European invaders, so it seemed silly not to go, just because Israel was much more recently-conquered territory than the US. Besides, I wanted to see first-hand what was up there, and the offer to organize a tour was a perfect way to meet real Israelis.

And that’s what I did. Not Peace Now, not Gush-Shalom, not Women In Black, not Anarchists Against the Wall. They’re not members of the Israeli Folk Music Society. I met regular Israeli Jewish anglophone folk music fans. Like so many Israelis, the vast majority of the men and women I met were not born in Israel. Many were from New York, and others originally came from Britain, Australia and elsewhere. I was trying to be sort of undercover, wanting to see what Israeli Jews thought about their situation, not wanting to impose my viewpoint first. Besides, I hadn’t yet written any songs about the Palestinian struggle (at least nothing I liked enough to sing in public), so that made it easier for me.

What I found in my ten-day tour of Israel was the most racist society I had ever encountered. The secular yuppies of Tel Aviv were the worst, while the most compassionate people opposed to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza tended to be very religious, which was an unexpected revelation for me. The most sensible person I met on that trip was a religious man who was in the Israeli military for the wars of both 1967 and 1973. It was after 1973 that he had an awakening, and came to recognize the brutal reality of the Israeli occupation.

I met some other fairly decent folks there, but most people I encountered seemed to be right out of a Klan rally in 1950’s Alabama. Very odd, since many of the Americans among them had been involved with the Civil Rights movement back in the day. But they seemed to have no problem talking about “the Arab mind,” refusing to use the term “Palestinian” in conversation, even when avoiding it meant jumping through all kinds of verbal hoops. They talked fondly of one friend living on a West Bank settlement, whose politics were often described as “somewhere to the right of Ghengis Khan.” One of them talked often of her “Christian Arab” friend who lived in a “Christian Arab” town in Israel, who we should visit at some point. (We never did.)

Once I was doing a house concert there. As long as I sang about oppression elsewhere in the world people loved it. They were reminiscing of their days in the movement against the Vietnam war and their time in SDS. I was trying to end my show after quite a while, but they wanted more, more. It was at least the fifth encore, and I thought, OK, now I’m gonna hit ‘em with a song against the US bombing raids and UN sanctions that were currently causing mass suffering in Iraq. It was the first time I sang a song at a gig and nobody clapped.

After a very pregnant silence, a self-described socialist originally from Scotland began clapping, but no one joined him. There was basically unanimity in the room. The song was wrong, the bombing of Iraq was right. And how outrageous to sing that song in Israel, I was told, since “we had to put gas masks on our children and hide in bomb shelters.” A handful of Israelis were killed by the Scud missiles, a few years after Israel had itself bombed Iraq, and the Israelis had to sleep in bomb shelters, all emerging safely the next morning, unlike the Iraqis who were being killed in their hundreds of thousands, including those incinerated by the US Air Force while hiding in their bomb shelters.

But for these people, the suffering of the Iraqis simply was irrelevant. The Iraqis didn’t matter, they all wanted to kill the Jews, even the Iraqi children, I was told there to my unbelieving face.

My German girlfriend was with me on that tour. In the long discussion that followed me singing the song about the war on Iraq, she and I were told that the bombing of Dresden was a good thing. This man was telling us that the killing of a hundred thousand women and children, for no reason other than to kill them, was a good thing. He was telling us that one of the great war crimes of world history -- right up there with other mechanized mass killings, such as the blitz, the Nazi holocaust or the carpet-bombing of Korea and Vietnam – was a good thing. He couldn’t justify it in any way, but it was good, and he wanted us to know that.

This was around the time that I realized that the whole of Israeli society is full of trauma survivors of one sort or another. Palestinians inside and outside Israel traumatized by ongoing oppression of so many sorts, and Jews traumatized by living in the war zone they created when they declared their “independence” (from whom?) in 1948. Traumatized by their parents and other relatives being killed in Europe. Traumatized in such a way that most of them had decided, it seemed, that “never again” clearly meant “never again to us Jews.” To hell with everybody else.

About a year later, to my surprise, the Israeli Folk Music Society offered to organize another tour for me. I again decided in favor of constructive engagement. But then, a couple months before the tour was to happen, Ariel Sharon took a thousand troops to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the spark – along with the settlement-building, the road closures, the increasing numbers of checkpoints, the bulldozing of houses and olive groves -- that lit the powder keg that set off the second Intifada. And then I wrote a song about the Israeli soldiers gunning down children with live ammunition soon after Sharon’s visit to the mosque, and it was all over.

The organizer of the tour didn’t cancel it right away. One by one, the organizers of nine of the ten shows I was scheduled to do wrote me outraged emails. How could you write a song like this, how could you say these things, we thought you were one of us, you sound like them. From most of the presenters there, and then from other supporters of Israel from the US and elsewhere, I started receiving emails regularly calling me a self-hating Jew, a neofascist, a fascist, a Nazi, etc. One of the ten presenters wrote me and said he liked the lyrics and looked forward to hearing them. He was the veteran of 1967 and 1973 I mentioned earlier.

Then a few days later I started receiving emails from Palestinians throughout the diaspora who had gotten the lyrics to my song somehow, too. These emails far outnumbered the ones from the Israel supporters. Many were short, just thanking me for making this statement. Others were much longer and full of stories of the nakba, “the catastrophe,” as they call the events of 1948. Others wrote about the brutality and humiliation of life under occupation, or life in the refugee camps. I started meeting Palestinians of all walks of life, in the US, Canada, England, and eventually in Palestine itself.

The news lately is full of factional fighting between Fatah and Hamas. But this is not the sort of thing that characterizes Palestinian society. Palestinians do have a community. One reason for this is the fact that they are all under siege, and all struggling to live under the occupation, all wanting it to end. The Muslims and Christians get along fine. They are all Palestinian. When you’re there, these things are obvious, especially if you’ve visited other communities engaged in resistance. You see those common signs, that universal sense of determination, purpose, existing in the moment, not knowing what horrors tomorrow may bring, whether their house will be bulldozed, whether their daughter will be shot by a sniper while sitting in school, whether the olive grove will be burned by settlers. On the ground in Palestine, it’s very clear what’s happening. This is a place under occupation by a massive, fundamentally racist military power.

Most people in the world with a knowledge of world events recognize the situation for what it is. This is certainly true in Europe. According to polls I’ve seen lately, most Jews in Europe and in North America do not identify with Israel as a country that represents them. Most people in Europe do not have any problems with Jews. There are always a few boneheads here and there desecrating cemetaries. It doesn’t take many people to do that. But generally, serious acts of anti-Semitism are virtually unheard of in Europe or North America. Most Europeans, however, are very critical of Israel and concerned about the plight of the Palestinians. And most Europeans recognize that there is no contradiction here, since they understand that “Israel” and “Jews” are, thankfully, two different things.

Germany, however, is a unique case, where as far as Israel and Palestine are concerned, it’s a different story.

In my family there’s long been a bit of a suspicion of Germany and Germans. Most of us have been to Europe, but only a couple have actually visited Germany. Bordering countries, yes – Holland, France, Denmark, but not Germany. Of course, the neighboring countries are all much more attractive, since most of their cities survived WWII intact, while almost all of Germany’s were destroyed by British and American carpet-bombing. But the comparative lack of pre-war architecture wasn’t why my family avoided visiting Germany.

I was a bit hesitant about it the first time I visited. I didn’t know a lot about recent German history. I mostly knew German accents from WWII movies. After spending quite a bit of time there, though, I developed a real affection for German society. Spending lots of time with lots of Germans, I found so much beauty, and so much anguish. As much as German society suffered from the Allied bombardments, from a generation of young men being sent off to kill and be killed in battle, from so many non-Jewish Germans also being killed in the camps, Germans as a whole are even more paralyzed with an unbearable guilt about the genocide of their Jewish brethren. Most Germans today have no recollection of what society was like with millions of German Jews in it, but their absence is like a ghost standing on every street corner.

Most Germans would be horrified to be accused of anti-Semitism. Whereas the left throughout almost the entire world is critical of Israel and supports Palestinian sovereignty, the German left is largely quiet about it, or actively and uncritically supporting Israel.

I remember one guy in the neighborhood in Hamburg where I spent quite a bit of time, who had a radio show at the local free radio station (equivalent of what we’d call community radio in the US). For one of his shows he interviewed a Palestinian doctor about life under the Israeli occupation.
Specifically about the challenges of providing medical care under the circumstances, with the checkpoints delaying ambulances for hours or turning them back, with tanks firing at ambulances, etc. By consensus, the collective board that ran the radio station canned his show permanently for this offense. What did he do? He failed to have an Israeli on his show at the same time. To dare to have a Palestinian doctor with no Israeli to somehow balance out his views was unacceptable.

Many Germans on the left who have dared to try to be consistent internationalists in solidarity with oppressed people around the world, and have included Palestinians within that worldview, have suffered similar fates. When you know that this is the environment on the German left and in German society in general, the Autonomen become even more impressive. These were Germans in the tradition of Bob Steck, true internationalists who supported liberation everywhere, including for Palestinians.

In the 1980’s the German autonomous movement followed in the footsteps of the Italian autonomous movement a decade before. They ccupied buildings, reclaiming the commons, building a different society. They rejected the Soviet model as well as the capitalist one. They opposed US as well as German military and economic intervention in the Third World. They were antifascists to the core, spending much of their time physically battling Nazi boneheads on the streets of Germany, and often battling the German police as well. (When they have to choose, the police almost always side with the right in these situations.) They supported struggles for self-determination around the world. And, consistent with the rest of their principles around anti-racism and Third World liberation, at the top of their flagship squat in Hamburg, Haffenstrasse, were two words that shocked German society probably more than anything else coming from the Autonomen: “free Palestine.”

But with the decline of the Autonomen has come, among other things, the rise of a uniquely German organization known as the Anti-Deutsche.

I’ll be returning to Germany for the G8 protests this summer, but the last time I was there was several years ago, and the last concert I did there was in the town of Marburg. I had seen a flyer that the Anti-Deutsche had made, criticizing me and my music the night before. This time, when I got to the arts center in Marburg where my concert was to happen, there were eight or so blond men and women in their early twenties, forming a gauntlet in front of the entrance to the building, handing out the flyers. Some people didn’t go to the show as a result, I don’t know how many.

The flyers claimed I was an anti-Semite. I was clearly an anti-Semite because I support the Palestinian struggle, and the Palestinians all hate women and hate their own children, since they fail to prevent them from being shot by Israeli tanks. They furthermore argued that since I was critical of capitalism, I was therefore anti-Semitic because making statements against institutions like the World Bank is a veiled anti-Semitic thing to do. This kind of thinking seems to be supporting all kinds of strange anti-Semitic myths about the ranks of Jews being filled with rich bankers, but there you go. Also, since I opposed the war in Iraq, I was an anti-Semite, since the war in Iraq was being waged to benefit Israel, and therefore it was good, and therefore the US should be supported most of the time, and Israel all of the time. I approached them politely to try to have a civil discourse about the flyer, but was told by one of them that “we don’t talk to fascists,” so there would be no discussion.

If this was an isolated cult of wingnuts it would be one thing, but the Anti-Deutsche are a fairly common phenomenon all over Germany, with their base in Leipzig. They actually originally come out of the more communist end of the German left. Many Germans will privately acknowledge them as nutters, but they’re often loathe to confront them, fearing the label of anti-Semitism.

To their credit, the Anti-Deutsche apparently spend much of their time opposing actual fascists. But they seem to spend at least as much time harassing people like me. I haven’t seen any overviews on this sort of thing, but my friend Attila the Stockbroker, a punk rock songwriter and poet from England who tours in Germany regularly, has recently been banned from a number of music venues on account of his fairly mild opposition to Israeli policies. He hasn’t written any songs specifically on the subject, but just mentioning his opposition to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza was enough to get the Anti-Deutsche to actively denounce him. And that was enough to get several venues to ban him, and for some of his traditional leftwing punk audience to stop coming to his shows.

As irrational as the Anti-Deutsche patently are, they have a chilling effect on the German left, and they are a real product of German history, and of the German collective guilt complex. So in order to avoid being anti-Semitic, that is, in order to avoid being anti-racist, they must support a racist regime. It’s convoluted logic that most people outside of Germany can see through, but in Germany this logic plays pretty well. Two wrongs make a right. We are traumatized because our people killed millions of Jews, therefore we must support the traumatized victims of the Nazi holocaust as they act out their displaced feelings of aggression towards us and focus them against the Palestinians, slaughtering thousands of them annually and making sure the rest live in a state of squalor.

Jews like my aunt or like so many Israelis say “never again to us,” while the Anti-Deutsche and other Germans say “never again to them.” The Autonomen and the Bob Stecks of the world say never again to anyone.

Who holds the moral high ground is obvious. The thing that allows people like me to sleep well at night, though, is having the knowledge that not only is this the moral view, the view that is easier to live with as a human being with a conscience, but it is also the sensible understanding of history and reality. Blinded by rage, trauma, or guilt, what the pro-Israel people apparently don’t see is that no matter what you do, a subjugated people will fight back. As anybody who’s visited a VA clinic in the US can tell you, the cost of oppression is also very high for those doing the oppressing.

So I say save the Jews and free Palestine!

Report: Bomb explodes in Tehran near last deadly blast; police clash with gunmen

Bomb blast in Iran, police clash with gunmen Reuters, 21 minutes ago

Bomb explodes in Tehran near last blast

AP 44 minutes ago

A bomb exploded in southeastern Iran late Friday, near the site where an earlier explosion this week killed 11 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, the state-run news agency IRNA reported.

"Minutes ago, the sound of a bomb explosion was heard in one of Zahedan's streets," the agency said. The report offered no further details, including whether there were casualties.

On Wednesday, a car blew up a bus owned by the elite troops in Zahedan, capital of the Sistan-Baluchestan province on the border with Pakistan.

House Passes Iraq Resolution With 17 Votes From G.O.P.

The House voted 246 to 182 today to denounce President Bush’s plan to send more American troops to Iraq. Two Democrats voted against the non-binding resolution.

Spies, Lies & KPMG

Business Week Online

FEBRUARY 26, 2007


Spies, Lies & KPMG
An inside look at how the accounting giant was infiltrated by private intelligence firm Diligence

In the spring of 2005, Guy Enright, an accountant at KPMG Financial Advisory Services Ltd. in Bermuda, got a call from a man identifying himself in a crisp British accent as Nick Hamilton. Hamilton said he needed to see Enright about matters of utmost importance.

Over the course of two meetings, Hamilton led Enright to believe he was a British intelligence officer, according to a person familiar with the encounters. He told Enright he wanted information about a KPMG project that Hamilton said had national security implications for Britain. Soon, Enright, who was born in Britain, was depositing confidential audit documents in plastic containers at drop-off points designated by Hamilton.

But Nick Hamilton was not an agent of Her Majesty's secret service, and the documents never found their way to the British government.

Nick Hamilton was in fact Nick Day, now 38, a onetime British agent and co-founder of Diligence Inc., a Washington private intelligence firm that counts William Webster, former director of the CIA and FBI, among its advisory board members. Diligence's client was not Britain's Queen, but Barbour Griffith & Rogers, one of the most formidable lobbying firms in Washington. Barbour Griffith represented a Russian conglomerate whose archrival, IPOC International Growth Fund Ltd., was being audited by KPMG's Bermuda office.

A 2006 scandal involving Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ ) put the issue of corporate espionage in the headlines. Diligence's methods, revealed in court documents and interviews by BusinessWeek, show how far some in the corporate investigation business will go.

Without denying this account of events in Bermuda, Diligence's Day says: "We've always respected the laws of the jurisdictions in which we operate." He adds that corporate intelligence firms like his provide an invaluable service. "We essentially help businesses deal with the risks of operating in challenging markets," Day says. "It's a role which government agencies don't necessarily have the resources or understanding to be able to fulfill."

From the start, Diligence's goal was clear, if far from simple: Infiltrate KPMG to obtain advance information about the audit of IPOC, an investment fund based in Bermuda. Russian conglomerate Alfa Group Consortium hired Barbour Griffith & Rogers through a subsidiary, and the lobbying firm in turn hired Diligence. Alfa is dueling with IPOC for a large stake in the Russian telecom company MegaFon. "We have a good chance of success on this project," Day wrote in an internal Diligence memo, referring to the Bermuda espionage effort. The memo, which BusinessWeek reviewed, added: "We are doing it in a way which gives plausible deniability, and therefore virtually no chance of discovery." Similar Diligence operations, the memo noted, had been successful before.

Within Diligence the KPMG campaign was dubbed Project Yucca, and it unfolded in stages, according to people familiar with the operation and documents filed in a court proceeding involving IPOC and Alfa in the British Virgin Islands. First, two Diligence employees contacted KPMG's Bermuda offices pretending to be organizers of a legal conference on the island, according to a person familiar with the operation. The Diligence staff members called KPMG secretaries and asked about how the office worked. Soon, Diligence had the names of a handful of KPMG employees who might have access to the IPOC data. But Diligence wanted to narrow the list.

The intelligence firm was originally looking for people who fit one of two profiles for sources likely to leak the audit information, according to a Project Yucca planning memo. One personality type was a "male in his mid-20s who is somewhat bored...has a propensity to party hard, needs cash, enjoys risk, likes sports, likes women, is disrespectful of his managers, fiddles his expenses, but is patriotic." The memo described the second personality type as "a young female who is insecure, overweight, bitchy, not honest. Someone who spends money on her looks, clothes, gadgets. Has no boyfriend, and only superficial friends. Has a strong relationship with her mother." Apparently, no one on Diligence's list quite fit either profile, but the firm settled on Enright, the British-born accountant.

Enright soon got a call from Diligence's Nick Day, posing as Nick Hamilton, according to a person familiar with the situation. The two agreed to meet for lunch near the KPMG offices in Hamilton, Bermuda. At lunch, Day, who is dark-haired and has a warm smile, said the assignment he had in mind for Enright was top secret and involved Britain's national security. Day kept the conversation vague, never mentioning IPOC or the audit, according to the person familiar with the situation. Day told the accountant he would have to undergo a British government background check to ensure that he was up to the task. Day produced an official-looking--but fake--questionnaire with a British government seal at the top and asked for information about Enright's parents, his professional background, any criminal history, and political activities, according to a copy of the questionnaire reviewed by BusinessWeek. Enright provided the information.

Several weeks later the two men met again, this time in a local bar, says the person familiar with the events. Day, still calling himself Nick Hamilton, told war stories from what he said were his days in the Royal Navy's Special Boat Service, Britain's equivalent of the U.S. Navy SEALS. He then steered the conversation toward his real interest: What did Enright know about the KPMG audit of IPOC?

Soon, Enright was handing over confidential audit documents, including transcripts of interviews KPMG had conducted in the IPOC investigation, according to court documents on file in the British Virgin Islands and the source familiar with the events. Day picked out a rock in a field along Enright's 20-minute daily commute from his home in Elbow Beach and placed a plastic container under the rock, creating what spies call a dead drop site. At appointed times, Enright slipped new material into the container, which Day later retrieved. On one occasion, Enright left documents in the storage compartment of his moped, which he parked at his home. Enright had told Diligence employees where he hid the keys to the moped. When Enright left for a trip, Day collected the papers, according to the person familiar with the situation.

Day and Diligence took elaborate precautions to make sure Enright wasn't himself a plant or a corporate spy, people familiar with the events say. Diligence employees followed Enright from his office to every meeting with Day. A Diligence employee was at each meeting spot before the men arrived to determine whether Enright was using associates for surveillance. Enright was followed to his destinations when meetings ended. When Day left the meetings with Enright, the source says, the Diligence executive followed a process spies call dry cleaning, which was designed to detect whether Day was being followed. He walked a prescribed route through several narrow "choke points" that made it possible for Diligence employees to identify anyone who might have been tailing him.

Diligence was paid handsomely for its work. An invoice produced in a federal court proceeding in Washington involving IPOC and Diligence shows that Barbour Griffith was billed by Diligence "For Bermuda report and Germany work--A Telecom." Diligence was paid $25,000 a month, plus $10,000 a month for expenses, according to documents reviewed by BusinessWeek and an interview with a person familiar with the matter. The company was also paid a $60,000 bonus for acquiring the first draft of KPMG's audit of IPOC. Diligence's total take couldn't be determined.

The undercover Project Yucca ended after someone--it remains unclear who--dropped a bundle of papers at the Montvale (N.J.) office of KPMG on Oct. 18, 2005. The papers included Diligence business records and e-mails with details of Project Yucca.

On Nov. 10, 2005, KPMG Financial Advisory Services sued Diligence for fraud and unjust enrichment in U.S. District Court in Washington. On June 20, 2006, the case settled. Diligence paid KPMG $1.7 million, according to a person familiar with the settlement.

On June 15, 2006, IPOC sued both Diligence and Barbour Griffith & Rogers in the same District Court, alleging civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and other misdeeds. That case is pending. Gavin Houlgate, a spokesman for KPMG, declined comment, as did attorneys for KPMG at the New York law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed. Kirill Babaev, a vice-president at Alfa's telecom arm in Moscow, said in a statement when asked about Alfa's involvement in the Diligence operation: "We are...not a party in any litigation with IPOC, and therefore cannot comment on any rumours or speculations in this regard."

Barbour Griffith & Rogers' most famous co-founder is Haley Barbour, who is now governor of Mississippi. Barbour left the lobbying firm in 2003, before the Diligence operation began. Another Barbour Griffith co-founder, Ed Rogers, was an early investor in Diligence. The lobbying firm rented space at its Pennsylvania Avenue offices to Diligence. Edward MacMahon, a lawyer for Barbour Griffith, says the firm has done nothing wrong and that no one affiliated with Barbour Griffith currently has an equity stake in Diligence. A person familiar with Diligence says the firm's shareholders are CEO Day, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Burt, Edward Mathias of Washington-based private equity firm Carlyle Group, and Buenos Aires private equity firm Exxel Group. Burt confirms he is Diligence's chairman but declines to discuss Project Yucca. Mathias confirms he is an investor in Diligence but says he is unaware of the Bermuda events. Exxel Group lists Diligence among its portfolio companies on its corporate Web site but did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

It's unclear whether Diligence broke any British or American laws. In an interview at his Washington office, Day says he and his firm always stay within the law but have learned much since 2005: "As an organization we've changed a lot as a result of everything we've been through in the last year." He says Diligence has "spent a lot of time training our staff as to what they can and cannot do."

In a statement to BusinessWeek, IPOC director Mads Braemer-Jensen said: "The fact that Alfa hired Barbour Griffith & Rogers and Diligence to use illegal and dishonest smear tactics against IPOC just shows that Alfa is trying to change the subject away from the fact that they stole from IPOC. We hope the U.S. and Bermuda law enforcement authorities will make note of this and take appropriate action against Alfa."

Guy Enright, who now works for Deloitte & Touche in London, declined repeated requests for comment on his relationship with Nick Day and his work on the IPOC audit. The terms of Enright's departure from KPMG couldn't be determined. But he apparently didn't come away empty-handed from his encounters with Nick Day.

As Project Yucca wound down in 2005, Day, still in the guise of Nick Hamilton, gave Enright a Rolex watch worth thousands of dollars, according to two people familiar with the present. Enright was led to believe it was a thank-you gift from the British government, but it, too, came from Diligence.

By Eamon Javers