Friday, March 23, 2007

Stealing Land by US Paid Forces

Stealing Land by US Paid Forces

Credit counselors overwhelmed by U.S. mortgage crisis

By Andrea Hopkins Thu Mar 22, 8:26 AM ET

Until last year, financial counselors at the Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati spent most of their time teaching Americans how to buy a first home. Now, they're deluged by broken and bereft homeowners facing foreclosure.

"Oh Lord, there is no way we can keep up with these calls," said Kaye Britton, a foreclosure counselor at the downtown nonprofit group that promotes home ownership to minority Americans, among others.

Britton has been helping clients reach the American dream of owning a home since 2002. Handmade wall signs urge would-be buyers to "sweat the small stuff" and note the lender's golden rule: "They have the gold, they make the rules."

Foreclosures were formerly rare, caused mostly by the loss of job, divorce or medical bills.

But when rising interest rates began driving up mortgage payments last year, homeowners started to feel the pain. Phones at credit counselors across the country are now ringing off the hook.

The industrial heartland has been particularly hard-hit. Ohio had the highest number of home foreclosures in 2006, while neighboring Michigan and Indiana -- all sideswiped by the faltering U.S. auto industry -- were close behind.

Housing analysts predict between 1 million and 3 million U.S. homes will be foreclosed upon in 2007. Already a wave of defaults on subprime mortgages held by those with poor credit have caused a crisis in parts of the industry, and some economists believe a recession could result.

"We knew it was going to be bad, but we didn't think it would be this bad," said Britton, echoing many who warned that increasingly exotic mortgage programs -- including those that required no down payment on home purchases -- would come back to haunt home buyers.


Subprime loans allowed many Americans with spotty credit to buy into the housing boom, driving home ownership to nearly 69 percent nationwide in 2006, up from 65.4 percent a decade earlier. But teaser rates that kept interest payments low for two or three years have begun to expire, driving monthly payments through the roof.

Shanna Smith, chief executive of the National Fair Housing Alliance, said lenders often targeted the most vulnerable borrowers for subprime loans, even if they were eligible for loans with lower rates. More often than not, the borrowers had little understanding of mortgages.

"All the predatory lending that has gone on, all of the pushing of exotic loans on people of color, female-headed households, families with children, people with disabilities -- it's all coming home to roost," Smith said.

Britton said borrowers and lenders share the blame for the crisis. She sees many borrowers who simply didn't understand their interest rate was only fixed for two or three years, then could rise along with market rates.

"That's all they hear -- that it's fixed, not that it's only fixed for the first two years," Britton said. "They don't know their payment's gone up until they get the notice in the mail. And then they don't have the money."

Not all of the problem is in the subprime market. Many Americans with good credit but low income or no savings signed up for adjustable rate mortgages or interest-only loans to get into the market. As rates rise, they too feel the pinch.

At the nonprofit Consumer Credit Counseling Service in suburban Cincinnati, counselor Darcy Blankenship sees a steady stream of people who knew their payments would be going up, but signed the loan anyway because they just wanted a house.

"People are so excited about wanting that house, they don't look at the whole picture. They just want the keys," she said.


Demand for counseling appointments at CCCS's Cincinnati offices has risen 87 percent from a year earlier.

Blankenship said one client started out with a 3.9 percent interest rate on his 30-year mortgage. Now it's rising to 11 percent -- and he can't meet the higher payments because once he bought the home he piled up debt furnishing the home.

"Now he can't refinance either, because of the debt. He just said, 'There's no way,"' she recalled.

Once borrowers fall 90 days behind on payments, lenders can start the foreclosure process, which can take up to a year. Owners can try to sell the house, but with prices falling and foreclosed homes flooding the market, borrowers often end up still owing more than they can get for the house.

Britton said people should call a reputable credit counselor as soon as they're in trouble. Loans can be restructured, and emergency funding may be available. But she admits the counseling industry is already overwhelmed.

"If I stop answering calls to actually talk to a client and help them, the messages pile up, and there's no time to call them all back," Britton said. "It's only going to get worse."

Victim of Real Estate Bust: Your Pension

Friday, 23 March 2007 Written by Garrett Johnson
Part 1
It's the dirty little secret of Wall Street.
"U.S. lenders will make about $2.8 trillion in home-mortgage loans this year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The MBA estimates that about 80% of these loans will end up in mortgage-backed securities. Mortgage-backed securities outstanding at the end of the first quarter totaled $4.61 trillion, up 61% since the end of 2000. In the same period, total Treasury securities outstanding grew 35% to $4.54 trillion.
Who buys those mortgage-backed securities? Pension funds have been one of the largest buyers for many years now.

What is a Mortgage-Backed Security?
A mortgage-backed security (MBS) is an asset-backed security whose cash flows are backed by the principal and interest payments of a set of mortgage loans.
These are usually packed and sold in bulk, and then are often resold. Quite often the person buying them has no real idea just how safe these mortgage loans are. Are they a bunch of subprime, house-flippers with no downpayments? There is usually no way to tell by the time the MBS has been sold and resold. The banks that originally made the mortgage loans don't care about the quality of the mortgage because they have already made their profit and off-loaded the risk to the pension fund, or insurance company, or foreign investor that bought the MBS.

How did we end up in this condition. Jim Jubak explained that the coming Baby Boomer retirement is a prime culprit. State and local government budgets are stretched thin. So do they raise taxes to pay for the coming flood of retirees? That's poltiically unpopular. So they change their investment strategy to get better returns, and that requires more risk. However, with so much cash moving towards higher yielding investments, that pushes down the returns for those riskier investments. Pension funds that should be investing in low-risk treasuries are investing in agency bonds. When agency bond yields are too low then they invest in MBS. And so it goes until pension funds are investing in MBS from subprime lenders.
The spread between the yield on high-yield bonds -- known as junk bonds -- and relatively safe U.S. Treasury bonds has averaged 5.24 percentage points since 1986...The spread is now a paltry 2.88 percentage points. The trend toward less yield for higher risk has been in place pretty much without interruption since the third quarter of 2001, when spreads maxed out at better than 10 percentage points.
It's well known that loan standards have been beyond loose in recent years. What isn't always known is that this has been true for more than just the sub-prime market. The next step up from subprime, known as Alt-A, has been the epicenter of this risky financing.
In 2006, according to UBS, interest- only loans, 40-year mortgages and option-adjustable-rate mortgages comprised more than 75 percent of Alt-A issuance. These loans often have little documentation of a borrower's income and rack up higher mortgage debt against the value of the underlying collateral (i.e., the house). UBS said that 76 percent of adjustable-rate interest- only loans written in 2006 had low documentation, while 57 percent had loan-to-value ratios greater than 80 percent. No surprise, then, that 3.16 percent of these loans are already delinquent by two months or more.
If you think we've already seen the worst of the RE Bust, think again. The resetting of subprime loans (i.e. when the "teaser" rates expire and they readjust to standard market rates) won't peak for another 10 months. Alt-A's peak for resetting is nearly two years off.

Even the IMF has noticed that America's real estate market is out of control and a danger to the overall economy. I think Bill Fleckenstein said it best.
As the credit bubble in real estate dies a dramatic, not-pretty death, a very simple truth has resurfaced: It's not a viable business when you lend money to people you know can't pay it back.
Of course the damage will be spread far and wide, and some of it will require a federal government bailout. How big of a bailout? No one knows because no one is counting.
The city of Charlotte does not count foreclosures. Neither does Mecklenburg County. Nor the state of North Carolina. Nor the federal government.

Even the Federal Housing Administration, which insured many of the failed loans, didn't track the concentrations. The Observer on Sunday profiled Southern Chase, a neighborhood of 406 houses in Concord built by Beazer Homes USA. Seventy-seven buyers lost their homes to foreclosure. Forty-five of the failed loans were insured by the FHA. [...]

None of the government agencies contacted by the Observer plans to start tracking foreclosures.

Part two to follow.

Garrett Johnson,

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Congressional Democrats are a Pathetic Embarrassment

The bill was really about spreading pork around.

"not binding" translated: BULLSHIT.
Friday, March 23, 2007

What a pathetic joke this nominally Democratic Congress has proven to be.

Despite polls showing that 6 in 10 Americans want the U.S. out of Iraq asap, the best that this crew can come up with is a call--not binding, of course--for the president to pull out the troops by next spring or even summer. That would be over a year from now, and more than five years (!) into this criminal and incredibly stupid war.

At the rate things have been going, it would also be perhaps 1000 more dead Americans, 14,000 more gravely wounded Americans, and 100-150,000 more dead Iraqis later.

And in offering this limp request, Congress is in the process of approving the appropriation of another $124 million in spending on the War in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan.

This is action? They could be blocking that funding altogether, and shutting the damned war down. Why can’t Democrats, who were put in their position of power in Congress by the voters, at least show the courage and principle of Republican Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex), who is opposing the funding and says, “It's amazing to me that this Congress is more intimidated by political propagandists and special interests than the American electorate, who sent a loud, clear message about the war in November.”

And those subpoenas. Congress is boldly demanding the appearance of Bush’s Rasputin Karl Rove and his ousted legal adviser Harriet Meirs. Fine as far as it goes, but what about the clear evidence at the Libby trial that his regent, Dick Cheney, orchestrated a smear campaign against administration critic Joe Wilson and his CIA wife Valerie Plame, obstructed the Justice Department investigation into that effort, and lied about what he had done? Shouldn’t there be subpoenas issued to the Veep himself and all of his staff?

What about the evidence at that same trial that the president himself was in on the cover-up and obstruction of justice conspiracy. Shouldn’t there be subpoenas of staff to pin that down, and a letter of interrogatories to the president himself?

While they’re at it, shouldn’t this 110th Congress that the people elected last fall in an effort to clean out the Augean stables of the Bush White House and to end the war be initiating an impeachment of the president, at least on his admitted felonious violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Law? After all, a federal judge already tried that case and determined that the president is a felon. That’s an easy case to impeach on.

They could also be revoking the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. That’s the resolution Congress passed on September 18, 2001, which the president has ever since been claiming makes him a dictator--that is commander in chief in a borderless, endless “war” on terror--not beholden to the Constitution, and free to ignore or invalidate acts of Congress at will. It’s an astonishing abuse of power, exactly what the Founding Fathers feared could happen, and yet Congress is doing exactly nothing about it.

There’s no need for the 2001 AUMF. We’re not at war in Afghanistan anymore, after all. There is a new, elected government there, and it has invited in NATO to help it fight a resurgent Taliban. We’re just there as part of NATO, and so hardly need a special AUMF--especially one that can be falsely construed as an authorization to be a dictator. So why isn’t Congress revoking the damned thing?

The could revoke the 2002 AUMF too. Bush misused that one as an authorization to go to war against Iraq, since it actually required him to go to the UN for authorization--something he never bothered to do. In any event, we’re not at war in Iraq either, as much as it might look like we are. The war in Iraq is over folks. We’re not even occupiers there any more. Remember, we handed sovereignty over to the Iraqis in 2004! There’s an elected government in Iraq==an independent government--and we’re there at their invitation to help them with an insurrection problem. That’s not a war, any more than it’s a war in Columbia, where we’ve also sent troops at the Columbian government’s request. So why doesn’t Congress revoke the AUMF? It would be a good idea, because Bush is liable to misuse it further and claim it gives him the right to attack Iran at will. He’s said as much.

Again, listen to Republican Ron Paul, who says, “Congress should admit its mistake and repeal the authority wrongfully given to the executive branch in 2002. Repeal the congressional sanction and disavow presidential discretion in starting wars. Then start bringing our troops home. If anyone charges that this approach does not support the troops, take a poll. Find out how reservists, guardsmen, and their families--many on their second or third tour in Iraq--feel about it. The constant refrain that bringing our troops home would demonstrate a lack of support for them must be one of the most amazing distortions ever foisted on the American public.” (Of course, Rep. Paul has his own issues when it comes to guts. He has publicly stated that the president has committed impeachable crimes, and yet he has shied away from doing the obvious, and appropriate, thing: submitting a bill of impeachment. If he does do it, it would be the ultimate shaming of Democrats in the House.)

I’m fed up with the gutless mini-politics of this Congress. Who gives a damn whether they’ve passed a minimum wage bill? It’ll never get past Bush anyhow. Neither will anything else of consequence that this Congress passes.

Unless they start challenging the Bush administration directly and forcefully, Congressional Democrats aren’t going to do bupkis in two years and people are going to start wondering why they were voted in in the first place. People might even start to think seriously about letting the Democratic Party just wither away.

Wouldn’t make much of a difference without it, really, and we might even come up with something better. It wouldn’t be too hard to do.

6:19 am pst

Iraq Will Be in Chaos Whether We Stay or Go

March 22, 2007

The ardent supporters of the war in Iraq constantly tell us that there will be widespread chaos and boodshed if U.S. troops leave the country.

Sen. John McCain is especially vocal on this point in his presidentialial campaign for the GOP nomination next year. Rep. Sam Johnson, Republican of Texas, calls it a "surrender" if our forces come home.

Let's examine these claims.

Iraq was a country of roughly 24 million people before the hostilities began four long years ago. Two million have left the country for Jordan, Syria, Iran, or other safe havens. Many of the most educated and affluent are among this group because they can afford it.

About 1 million have been killed, wounded, or maimed, with most of the casualties coming after Saddam Hussein was toppled. Remember Dick Cheney's words that we would be treated as liberators once Saddam was ousted.

An additional 500,000 have died in infancy. In other words, the population is dwindling and fast.

The chaos and bloodbath are already present, Senator McCain. And after four years of trying to salvage the country, Johnson has the gall to call it a surrender to start bringing our men and women back home.

President Bush continues to call for patience. A recent poll by ABC News showed that 51 percent of Iraqis say it is all right to injure Americans. The patience, Mr. President, ran out long ago for most of us.

So the next time politicians talk about the havoc that would come with a U.S. pullout, remind them of what has and is going on already in that wartorn and unforgiving land.

Posted at 12:00 AM by John W. Mashek

FEC Democrats Say Bush Violated Campaign Limits; Owes Government $40 million

FEC Democrats Say Bush Violated Limits

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 23, 2007; A15

The three Democrats on the Federal Election Commission revealed yesterday that they strongly believe President Bush exceeded legal spending limits during the 2004 presidential contest and that his campaign owes the government $40 million.

Their concerns spilled out during a vote to approve an audit of the Bush campaign's finances, which is conducted to make sure the campaign adhered to spending rules after accepting $74.6 million in public money for the 2004 general election.

Republican commissioners defended the way the Bush campaign billed the cost of more than $80 million in television ads, which were the source of the dispute.

The commission by statute comprises three Democrats and three Republicans. Commissioner Michael E. Toner, a Republican, resigned March 14, but the vote was taken before his departure. Because of the deadlock, the objections were recorded in a footnote to the audit but will not result in any sanctions or repayment.

"We had a disagreement on this audit, and it was a doozy," said one of the Democrats, Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub.

The dispute centered on the use of what the commissioners called "hybrid" ads, which were intended to promote both the president and Republican members of Congress. The Bush campaign argued that it should not bear the full cost of these ads, so it split the tab with the Republican Party.

As a result, only half of the cost would count toward spending limits imposed on the campaign when it agreed to take public funds. Weintraub said the spending limit is an essential part of the agreement candidates make to accept public financing. "Bush-Cheney 2004 took the $74 million, and then they broke the bargain," she said.

Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky, a Republican, strongly disagreed. "There was no broken bargain," he said. "There was no violation of the law."

Putting the whole f****ing disaster in perspective

A reader responds to,"Marines accused of killing civilians ordered out of Afghanistan".
"As a former Marine familiar with ops in Nangahar, it is not wise to reveal my identity. The situation stinks in that barren land. Dumb airstrikes leave death and destruction; the locals want us dead. Our allies call us missile happy cowards behind our backs. An Aussie SAS sent me the following story last week which puts the whole f****ing disaster in perspective."



Meet Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of the Multinational Force Iraq, who continues the proud Military tradition of launching air strikes on areas populated by civilians.

(In 1920, the British dropped 97 tons of bombs on Iraq, killing 9000 Iraqis).

This month an
additional US AVIATION BRIGADE with more than 2,600 troops will be deployed to Iraq.

It will unleash attack aircraft, transport helicopters, destruction and death; most of which will be not be reported.


Executive Overreach

The White House Is Taking Privilege Too Far
By Beth Nolan

Friday, March 23, 2007; A17

The Framers of our Constitution envisioned that in the exercise of their authorities, the two political branches would assert their prerogatives against each other. A process of negotiation and accommodation between the branches is what one would expect. That process isn't elegant, but a push-pull between the branches doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong.

What is going wrong today, however, is the take-it-or-leave-it position of the White House.

The struggle between Congress and the executive branch over the requested testimony of White House officials regarding the removal of eight U.S. attorneys is playing out in the political arena. In fact, the political arena is where the contours of these prerogatives are largely shaped, rather than in our courts. While executive privilege is based in constitutional principles of the separation of powers and the authority of the president over the executive branch, and the privilege has been recognized by the Supreme Court, its scope has been largely determined outside the judicial process.

President Bush's counsel not inappropriately started by seeking to shield high-level White House advisers from compelled testimony before Congress. The White House offered the officials for private interviews by lawmakers and their staffs, so long as there are no oaths, transcripts, follow-up interviews or queries delving into White House discussions. Lawmakers have rejected that offer as insufficient to permit Congress to exercise fully its oversight and legislative roles, and congressional committees have authorized the issuance of subpoenas.

Out of respect for the separation of powers, Congress should not ordinarily call on such officials for testimony but should leave such officials to devote their attention to their duties for the president. This rationale no longer has force for those who have left the White House, such as Harriet Miers, but even then, communications with the president or internal White House communications about the president's decision to dismiss his appointees should usually be shielded from disclosure. Presidents need candid advice from their counselors, and respecting the privilege enhances the likelihood of such candor.

But Congress has duties and responsibilities in our constitutional system as well, and the president has an equal responsibility to respect Congress's important and legitimate interests in this matter. Serious questions have been raised about whether illegitimate considerations played into those dismissal decisions. These are questions Congress should be exploring. While any president has the authority to fire his or her appointees, including U.S. attorneys, the independence of our prosecutors from improper political (not policy) influence is a bedrock principle of our criminal justice system.

We don't know exactly what happened, but enough questions have been raised by the e-mails that have been disclosed and officials' changing stories to establish that Congress -- and the American people -- are entitled to know more. When Congress has already received information and testimony that raises serious questions about possible wrongdoing, the White House counsel's offer -- a closed-door session that may not be recorded, even by a transcript, and on the condition that Congress has only one bite at the apple, no matter what it may subsequently learn -- is simply inadequate. Executive privilege is an important and essential constitutional principle, but it is not the only important principle at issue here.

Congress can be too aggressive in intruding on executive prerogatives. When I was counsel to the president, we were deluged with subpoenas, many of which were issued unilaterally by a committee chair and served on us without even the courtesy of a phone call first. So much for respecting a co-equal branch or engaging in a process of accommodation. I testified before Congress twice, under oath and pursuant to subpoena, on White House e-mail reconstruction. Even after the change in administrations, I testified under oath when Congress sought information about presidential pardons. (Once, the president asserted a privilege when my testimony was sought regarding earlier pardons.) Too often during that period, Congress failed to show proper restraint in seeking information from the White House.

But the executive can also be too aggressive in asserting its prerogatives in the face of a legitimate need of Congress. Each branch should vigorously seek to protect its legitimate powers, and each branch should recognize the legitimacy of the others' concerns. The White House's current insistence that its restrictive offer is nonnegotiable prevents the process from working as it should.

The writer is a litigation partner in the Washington-based law firm Crowell & Moring LLP. She was counsel to the president from September 1999 to January 2001 and served in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel as deputy assistant attorney general from 1996 to 1999.

An Inside-the-Bushies Mentality

By David Ignatius
Friday, March 23, 2007; A17

If you read the obituary pages of The Post each morning, you encounter the kinds of people who are being trashed by the Bush administration's contempt for public servants. On a typical day, perhaps a third of the obits feature such people -- career lawyers at the Justice Department; intelligence analysts at the CIA; researchers in government agencies.

These weren't fancy Beltway insiders. They weren't famous enough to be asked their opinions on "Hardball" or "The McLaughlin Group." They were civil servants who came to Washington in the 1940s, '50 and '60s with their university degrees and a touch of idealism because they wanted to make a difference. They were the mainstays of the churches and synagogues and volunteer organizations of this region, the people who stayed late to clean up after everybody else had gone home.

Who were they? This week's obits included an 86-year-old research physicist with the Navy; a 57-year-old Justice Department trial lawyer; an 86-year-old administrative law judge; an 85-year-old Foreign Service officer who served with her husband in Saigon, Kabul and Rome; a 95-year-old woman who was a CIA officer for 25 years; an 87-year-old woman who served in the Women's Army Corps in World War II and stayed on at the Pentagon. If you've ever talked to people at a retirement home in the Washington area, you know how passionate they can be about good government. They gave up money and prominence because they believed in public service.

What infuriates me about the Bush administration is its disdain for people like these. You sense that scorn reading the e-mails that have surfaced in the flap over the firings of U.S. attorneys. I don't think the story is much of a scandal. U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, and he can fire whomever he wants. What interests me about the Justice e-mails is that they are a piece of sociology, documenting the mind-set of the young hotshots and ideologues who populate the Bush administration.

Here's Kyle Sampson, now-deposed chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, griping about a U.S. attorney in Phoenix who had the effrontery to want to make his case personally: "In the 'you won't believe this category,' Paul Charlton would like a few minutes of the AG's time." And here's Brent Ward, the director of a Justice Department task force who made his name as an anti-pornography crusader grumbling that he doesn't want to deal with the U.S. attorney in Las Vegas: "To go out to LV and sit and listen to the lame excuses of a defiant U.S. attorney is only going to move this whole enterprise closer to catastrophe."

The Bush political operatives have become the people the Republicans once warned the country against -- a club of insiders who seem to think that they're better than other folks. They are so contemptuous of government and the public servants who populate it that they have been unable to govern effectively. They are a smug, inward-looking elite that thinks it knows who the good guys are by the political labels they wear.

This contempt has been evident in many of the administration's failures. The disastrous incompetence of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 flowed from its status as a clubhouse for ambitious conservatives eager to punch a political ticket in a country they knew nothing about. The political purges that enfeebled the CIA in 2005 were the work of a conservative former member of Congress, Porter Goss, and a coterie of political aides he brought from Capitol Hill who thought they knew more about intelligence than career professionals. The administration's signature failure, its bumbling response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was the work of a right-wing political appointee who knew almost nothing about disaster management and who scorned many of the bureaucrats who worked for him.

After Katrina, it became clear that the public wanted a change. Americans want to be confident that those in charge of the country's business are members of what I call "the party of competence," whatever their political affiliation. The anguish of Iraq deepened that message, and the 2006 congressional elections codified it. But the Bush administration didn't get it. The purge at Justice came after the November election blowout. They acted as if they were still on a roll.

Here's the challenge for the Democrats: Become the party that fixes things, that solves problems, that respects expertise and professionalism. Let the GOP be the party of smart alecks and know-it-alls and smirking e-mail writers. The Republicans have made a bed of political arrogance; let them sleep in it for a good long while.

The writer co-hosts, with Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, PostGlobal, an online discussion of international issues at His e-mail address

Breaking barriers to peace

From the Baltimore Sun

By Ori Nir

March 23, 2007

As she makes another effort to create a "political horizon" for Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would be well advised to take a good look at their states of mind. The picture that Ms. Rice is trying to draw, illustrating ways to resolve the core points of disagreement between the two peoples, cannot be an abstraction. It must be a vision that would reverse the confrontational dynamic.

Most Israelis and Palestinians have experienced only a relationship of bloody conflict. A majority on both sides has not tasted a different reality.

Consider the following figures, which Americans for Peace Now recently received from Fafo, the Norwegian Institute for Labor and Social Research, widely considered the most credible authority on Palestinian demographics. According to Fafo's most recent polling data, 51.3 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are 20 years or younger. That means that more than half of the Palestinians in these territories were born into a milieu of on-again-off-again warfare with Israel that started with the outbreak of the first Palestinian intifada in 1987.

An even more striking figure is that the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian population, 80.3 percent, is less than 40 years old. That means that four out of every five Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have lived their entire lives under Israeli occupation, which began after Israel's victory in the 1967 war with the Arabs.

Israel's population is significantly older. However, more than one-seventh of Israel's population arrived in the country after 1990, mainly because of the large influx of immigration from the former Soviet Union. Accounting for the 1,010,900 immigrants who arrived in the past 17 years, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics data show that 52 percent of Israelis were not around 24 years ago (there are no available data for 1967) and 84 percent were not around 44 years ago.

These figures help explain some long-standing features of the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, including the perception, in both societies, that the stalemate is chronic, unavoidable and, worse, irreversible.

Because most on both sides have been socialized within the reality of ongoing armed conflict, they have come to accept an adversarial relationship as normal, as default. They lack the personal frame of reference to imagine any other relationship. Recent polls of Israelis and Palestinians show that although majorities in both societies support a two-state solution, majorities of the same proportions think this desired solution is unattainable.

Both sides demonize the other. Most, on both sides, have never interacted with members of the other community in situations that are not adversarial. Most Palestinians are too young to have ever visited Israel.

Certainly, most Israelis have never seen the Arab towns, villages and refugee camps of the West Bank or Gaza. Indeed, most Israelis don't even know where Israel ends and the West Bank starts. Israel's minister of education is now fighting to have the 1967 "Green Line" border between Israel and the West Bank marked on maps in schoolbooks.

Scarred by a generation of alienation and violence, both societies are awash with hatred and vengeance. Both are cynical. Many in both societies have despaired of ever living in peace with the other.

It will not be easy to change the mindset of two populations that are to such a large extent a product of occupation and conflict. It will require a reversal in attitudes and values, which means dedication and commitment over time - perhaps over a long period of time.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas consistently say that they have not despaired. And although Israel has refused to deal with the Palestinians' new unity government because of the militant group Hamas' refusal to recognize the Jewish state, Ms. Rice is pushing ahead to get the Israeli-Palestinian peace process moving again. She leaves for the Mideast today.

The degenerative nature of the status quo necessitates strong, decisive leadership. The status quo, bleak as it may be, should not suggest, however, that leadership and effort would not pay off. Palestinians and Israelis yearn for hope. And a promising glimmer of hope, resulting from Ms. Rice's trip, could dramatically transform the gloomy atmosphere on both sides.

Copyright © 2007, The Baltimore Sun

Getting Screwed

by Karen Kwiatkowski

Screwed up, screwed over, and just plain screwed. The brutality of this language sadly fails to approximate what is happening to our soldiers and Marines in Iraq, and afterwards.

We knew that the invasion of Iraq was conducted without transparent or comprehensive planning. We knew that the fundamental objectives were hidden from the American people – endless occupation, big permanent American military bases, and the destruction, fragmentation and American political and economic subjection of a once politically important Iraq.

What we didn’t know is that the administration’s recklessness, greed, and callousness extended to the American soldiers and Marines who did the administration’s dirty work.

Our American soldiers and Marines have done what our insane Washington leadership asked them to do, regardless of its fundamental unconstitutionality and idiocy. That alone, under Nuremburg rules, may ultimately be a war crime in some international court. "Just following orders" is not a valid defense. Our young men and women have killed, destroyed, and even tortured at the command of the state. For these choices – native to any war – there will be personal and private suffering for years to come.

In any war, even a corrupt state owes its soldiers a certain standard of care. It owes its veterans a debt that is more than gratitude. In the case of America’s all-volunteer military system, this standard of care for soldiers, and the debt to veterans is spelled out in a contract of sorts.

It is said that we are a nation of laws. My experience and observations as a military officer in an equal opportunity era confirmed that. But perhaps I only believe this because I was never deployed as a grunt soldier in Iraq.

When it comes to protecting our young men and women in Iraq, we seem to be functioning in a collective fugue state. If serving in a forward combat role in Iraq (and also Afghanistan), you are likely to be male. You are also lacking one or more of the following: a clear mission, quality leadership, the proper equipment, armor, and training, a functional and wise set of standard operating procedures for suppressing a hostile local populace that does not speak your language nor share your customs. When you make a mistake or crack under pressure, you will be thrown to the legal wolves. Unless, of course, you are a senior officer, in which case you have an excellent chance of being quickly promoted out of harm’s way.

If you are injured in combat, you will be rushed into the vast system of hospitals, where you will vie for the attention of an overworked, very frustrated, and yet anonymous and unaccountable set of health care professionals who are increasingly overburdened.

If you are female in uniform, and deployed to Iraq, you face all of the above plus a few more. Sexual harassment, pressure for sex from peers and superiors, abuse, rape and even the chance of dying because you cannot safely hydrate yourself for fear of being raped in the night on your way to the latrine – these additive challenges face our female volunteers.

And that’s all before they come home to Walter Reed or Smallville, USA.

The recent flurry of publicity and firings of military figureheads over the dilapidated state of medical care for our wounded and soon-to-be medically discharged Iraq and Afghanistan veterans speaks to one more Washington betrayal.

We have seen an Army General or two fired in response to late-coming national publicity of abhorrent treatment of our maimed and recovering soldiers. But the real crime is much higher than three or four stars.

The administration and the Pentagon didn’t plan for an occupation of Iraq, because that planning would belie our public optimism, betray the propaganda of cakewalks and a thousand flowers, and reveal the truth about the administration’s 2003 force-march to war. Likewise, to have planned for 25,000 injured Iraq and Afghan veterans, many permanently crippled, blinded, disfigured and brain damaged, and 100,000 psychological and emotional head cases trying to reintegrate into their former lives would have revealed the administration’s Iraq narrative to be dead wrong. No matter the cost, the Bush-Cheney narrative must be seen as the "reality."

The lack of planning for medical and hospice care, rehabilitation, counseling and therapy – as with the Congressional decision to close/replace the premier military hospital in 2005 – occurred even after the Pentagon, the administration and the Congress had recognized the bloody human costs the Iraq occupation was bringing home. Instead of attending funerals and visiting amputees and paraplegics at Walter Reed, the Administration and the Pentagon seized an opportunity to spend more tax money and get new stuff – even though that would mean an immediate cutoff of improvement and maintenance funds for Walter Reed, filled to overflowing already with sick solders.

Bush doesn’t like to veto legislation, unless it offends his religiously-couched "love of life" or prevents him from going to war with whomever he pleases, whenever he wants, and for no particular reason. We knew Bush and Cheney had nothing but contempt for the Iraqi and Afghani people. Apparently, that contempt extends to serving Americans as well. Had either Bush or Cheney, or Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz cared about the impacts of their war-play on the people of this country, they would have dealt with this well-known medical care shortfall, shown concern over what BRAC-listing Walter Reed would mean to our recovering veterans. These so-called leaders they would have demanded executable plans to ensure both the bureaucratic and medical capacity was sufficient.

But neither Bush nor Cheney care one whit for the fighting soldiers, and neither wishes to be reminded of the shattered limbs and lives left when the fighting is done. The ugly truth doesn’t fit their carefully constructed narrative of "winning" and "wars on terror" and "patriotism." As a Bush aide explained to Ron Suskind a few years ago, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."

That reality means that not only are the hapless targets of our imperialism screwed, but so is every serving soldier and Marine in Iraq. At least in the Roman Army, the milites could expect to share in the booty of conquered lands. In the American empire, that privilege is reserved for Halliburton, as our wasted foot-soldiers are buried alive.

This article originally appeared on

March 23, 2007

LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for and Liberty and Power. Archives of her American Forum radio program can be accessed here and here. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here.

Copyright © 2007 Karen Kwiatkowski

NATO forces shoot Afghan child, run over another

1 hour, 37 minutes ago

A distraught Afghan father buried his 12-year-old son Friday after the boy was shot in the head by NATO troops in the latest in a series of civilian deaths involving international forces.

The NATO force admitted to the shooting late Thursday but said its soldiers had fired in self-defence after a civilian van had ignored verbal warnings to not approach a security cordon around a broken-down armoured vehicle.

Confirming the killing, the Afghan interior ministry said the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops opened fire on a vehicle "which apparently tried to overtake the troops or may be the car was too close to the troops."

But the boy's father, named only Zemarai, denied trying to overtake the convoy while driving seven of his relatives home after visiting family.

He also said he had been several hundreds metres (yards) away and was not aware of warning shots, which troops are required to fire before taking aim.

"All of a sudden they opened fire at our vehicle," he said angrily from his home, filled with wailing mourners for the funeral of young Zaryalai.

"The first three bullets hit my car and the fourth one hit my 12-year-old son on the side of his head," the father said, his voice breaking with emotion.

The boy made no sound and Zemarai only realised the child was dead when he stopped the vehicle.

The incident was on the eastern route out of the city, a road which sees most of the suicide attacks in Kabul as foreign troops frequently used it.

The force, nervous of suicide attacks, has used the media and notices attached to their vehicles to warn other vehicles to keep their distance after dozens of civilians have been killed in similar incidents.

Meanwhile, ISAF said in a statement late Thursday that one of its convoys had hit and killed a child in the eastern province of Khost. The child had darted out from the side of the road, it said.

In a statement after the incident in Kabul, the 37-nation alliance said it "deeply regrets the loss of life and injury to civilians."

"It is unknown why the vehicle failed to stop when clear signals were given, and a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances of the incident has commenced."

In one of the worst incidents involving civilians and foreign forces this year, eight people were killed when US troops opened fire after a suicide bombing near the eastern city of Jalalabad March 4.

The US-led coalition said the civilians were killed in the attack and subsequent gunfire, but witnesses said they were all killed by the foreign forces. The results of an investigation have yet to be announced.

Freddie Mac warns on subprime turmoil

By Daniel Pimlott in New York

Published: March 23 2007 12:44 | Last updated: March 23 2007 13:57

Freddie Mac, the US mortgage finance provider, warned that the turmoil in the subprime mortgage market was bound to spill over into consumer debt, as it revealed a loss in its fourth quarter.

Richard Syron, chairman and chief executive of the giant government-chartered group, said that following the massive expansion in the availability of credit for mortgage and borrowing-hungry consumers in recent years, the meltdown of the market for mortgages to people with patchy credit history could spread.

The rest of this article is for subscribers only

Iran: detained Britons "illegally" entered Iranian waters

Fri, 23 Mar 2007 22:52:21

Iran has summoned the British envoy to its foreign ministry over illegal entry into Iranian waters of the Royal Navy marines.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement aired on Friday on the state-run television, saying "British charge d'affaires Kate Smith was summoned to the foreign ministry to receive a firm protest from Iran against the illegal entry of British sailors into Iranian territorial waters."

"This makes a number of times that British sailors have illegally entered Iranian territorial waters at Arvand Rud," the statement read, adding, "They were arrested by border guards for investigation and questioning."

Arvand Rud is the Iranian name for the Shatt al-Arab waterway that separates Iran from neighboring Iraq.

Meanwhile, an Iranian foreign ministry official told AP the 15 seized British soldiers and marines have been "detained by Iran's border authorities for further investigation... of the blatant aggression into Iranian territorial waters."

A U.S. Navy spokesman said Friday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards had radioed a British warship explaining that no harm had come to the 15 British sailors and marines and that they were seized because they were in Iranian waters.

Earlier, the British defense ministry had claimed 15 sailors were seized by Iran in "Iraqi territorial waters" while conducting "routine" anti-smuggling operations.

Iran's IRINN Persian-language news network said earlier on Friday that U.S. and British vessels had stopped and investigated a number of Iranian and Iraqi trade ships after illegally entering Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf close to Arvand Rud.

Iranian navy forces rushed to the scene after the trade vessels had sought help from Iranian forces, leading to the detention of British forces.

Unconfirmed sources told IRINN a British Royal Navy was also stopped and transferred to Iranian coastline.

Britain summoned the Iranian Ambassador to London, Rasul Movahedian Attar, to the foreign office shortly after the incident to convey the British government demand for the "immediate release" of the arrested soldiers and marines.

In 2004, eight troops were detained for three days and paraded on Iranian television. Iran said the soldiers aboard their boats were intercepted only after they entered Iranian waters.

The British forces apologized to Iran for illegally entering its waters, claiming they did not know they had left Iraqi waters.

Silence All Around on the War, Save for One Movement

March 22, 2007

Leonard Fein
On March 12, the Union for Reform Judaism became the first national Jewish organization to take more than a tongue-clucking position on the Iraq war. It did what the U.S. Senate has been unable to do: It voted overwhelmingly to oppose President Bush's "surge" of new troops, and it called on the president to set and announce a specific timetable for the phased withdrawal of troops.

Alas, the URJ decision is very much nonbinding.

What's surprising -- bordering on astonishing -- is that the URJ, joined since by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, which passed a similar resolution last week, was the only major national Jewish group to have spoken out so decisively on this misbegotten and misconducted war. I say "astonishing" because the American Jewish public, which is represented by a broad array of organizations, has very clear views on the war.

At the end of February, the Gallup organization conducted a poll of more than 12,000 Americans. Overall, it found that 52 percent of Americans think the war a mistake, and 46 percent do not. But the same poll found that 77 percent of Jews called the war a mistake, while 21 percent support it.

It was a strange week for Jews to express themselves quite so decisively.

It was, after all, the same week in which Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking at the annual convention of American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said: "My friends, it is simply not consistent for anyone to demand aggressive action against the menace posed by the Iranian regime, while at the same time acquiescing in a retreat from Iraq that would leave our worst enemies dramatically emboldened, and Israel's best friend -- the United States -- dangerously weakened."

This was reportedly received with considerably less than the enthusiasm Cheney is accustomed to when he addresses AIPAC. Perhaps what the AIPAC people now know is that it is exactly because of the wicked policies of the president and vice president that America has already been dangerously weakened.

Not to be outdone, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also weighed in on the subject last week to AIPAC via a video link from Jerusalem to echo Cheney.

No serious person can take pleasure from the very sour pickle in which the United States now finds itself. Never mind that the Bush administration have mixed the brine themselves; their comeuppance is hardly adequate compensation -- not for the dead, not for the wounded, not for the chaos, and not for the cost to America's treasury and dignity.

All that's left these days are bad choices.

Among them, President Bush has, predictably, seen fit to pick the very worst -- a creeping open-ended escalation that resolves nothing.

Among these bad choices, the major American Jewish organizations -- save only the Union for Reform Judaism -- take a pass.

Questions of war and peace are properly the provenance of religious institutions. In the case at hand, because Israel's security is so directly at stake, America's Iraq policy would seem to be of immediate interest to all the single-issue pro-Israel groups in the Jewish firmament, as also to all those -- American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, JCPA and others -- that so often opine on matters of less immediate Jewish relevance. What can account for their timidity?

Some organizational leaders likely support the war; roughly 10 percent of Jews are of the Republican pro-war persuasion, and we may surmise that these, typically wealthier, are disproportionately represented in the ranks of Jewish leadership.

But more prevalently, I believe, many "leaders" are curled up in a little ball in the corner, seeking to hide from the headache of taking a stand. These same leaders frequently fret out loud about Jewish continuity, about their own failure to attract young Jews to their ranks.

Might it, this time around, occur to them that it is they who have opted for the irrelevance to which growing numbers of Jews consign them?

Tomorrow, they will again flood their fundraising appeals with talk of the imminent threat from Iran. But what of the war that is being waged today? Their silence on Iraq is a feckless evasion of responsibility.

Leonard Fein is a Boston-based columnist.

The Secret War Against Sweden:

Ola Tunander

The Secret War Against Sweden: US and British Submarine Deception in the 1980s

Naval Policy and History

Buy at

Following the stranding of a Soviet Whiskey-class submarine in 1981 on the Swedish archipelago, a series of massive submarine intrusions took place within Swedish waters. However, the evidence for these appears to have been manipulated or simply invented. Classified documents and interviews point to covert Western, rather than Soviet activity. This is backed up by former US Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who stated that Western 'testing' operations were carried out regularly in Swedish waters. Royal Navy submarine captains have also admitted to top-secret operations. Ola Tunander's revelations make it clear that the United States and Britain ran a 'secret war' in Swedish waters. The number of Swedes perceiving the Soviet Union as a direct threat increased from 5-10 per cent in 1980 to 45 per cent in 1983. This Anglo-American 'secret war' was aimed at exerting political influence over Sweden. It was a risky enterprise, but perhaps the most successful covert operation of the entire Cold War.

Submarines & PSYOPs: US Policies for a Dissident State

Marines accused of killing civilians ordered out of Afghanistan

Marine unit ordered out of Afghanistan

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer 9 minutes ago

Marines accused of shooting and killing civilians after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan are under U.S. investigation, and their entire unit has been ordered to leave the country, officials said Friday.

Army Maj. Gen. Francis H. Kearney III, head of Special Operations Command Central, ordered the unit of about 120 Marines out of Afghanistan and initiated an investigation into the March 4 incident, said Lt. Col. Lou Leto, spokesman at Kearney's command headquarters in Tampa, Fla.

It is highly unusual for any combat unit, either special operations or conventional, to have its mission cut short.

A spokesman for the Marine unit, Maj. Cliff Gilmore, said it is in the process of leaving Afghanistan, but he declined to provide details on the timing and new location, citing a need for security.

In the March 4 incident in Nangahar province, an explosives-rigged minivan crashed into a convoy of Marines that U.S. officials said also came under fire from gunmen. As many as 10 Afghans were killed and 34 wounded as the convoy made an escape. Injured Afghans said the Americans fired on civilian cars and pedestrians as they sped away.

U.S. military officials said militant gunmen shot at Marines and may have caused some of the civilian casualties.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the incident, which was one among several involving U.S. forces in which civilians were killed and injured.

Leto, the spokesman at Special Operations Command Central headquarters, said the Marines, after being ambushed, responded in a way that created "perceptions (that) have really damaged the relationship between the local population and this unit."

Therefore, he said, "the general felt it was best to move them out of that area."

Gilmore said the Marine company would complete its overseas deployment with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is the larger unit it sailed with from Camp Lejeune, N.C., in January, but it will no longer operate in Afghanistan.

Of the four Marine Special Operations Command companies that have been established since the command was created in February 2006, the one ordered out of Afghanistan was the first to deploy abroad, Gilmore said. By September 2008 there are to be nine companies operating as part of two special operations battalions, he said.

For years the Marines resisted creating special operations units, arguing that would run counter to their philosophy of viewing all Marines as elite fighters and not singling out elements as special. But former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pressed them to establish a separate command — the Marine Special Operations Command — to train and equip forces for the multi-service Special Operations Command.

There are about 25,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, mostly conventional combat forces and support units.

AIPAC and Foreign Agent Status

March 23, 2007

gideon meir.jpg
(Israeli Ambassador to Italy and former Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Public Affairs Gideon Meir: AIPAC can help so much it hurts)

Even the best informed of us can be just real dumb on Friday mornings. I never knew that AIPAC was NOT compelled to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Apparently, the criminal investigation of two AIPAC employees, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, has many in the US-Israel policy community worried that a conviction would compel FARA registration for the organization. I had not seen this debate previously.

One would think that it was obvious that AIPAC was an agent for Israel's interests and thus would have to register as such.

Then again, to take the alternative position, I guess that there can be "undirected" agents of interest and that AIPAC members are simply advocating policies that they feel are good for the United States with regards to Israel -- without direction from Jerusalem.

There is some sense in this. If I wanted to advocate on behalf of smarter U.S. policy towards Cuba, towards Japan, towards Palestine, or towards the United Arab Emirates, then I should be able to do so without a need to register as an agent of foreign interests -- particularly since I am taking no direction from those foreign interests.

This is fascinating and explains a mystery that has bothered me for some time.

Pat Choate's famous book, Agents of Influence: How Japan's Lobbyists Manipulate America's Political and Economic System, has an appendix listing all of the known lawyers and lobbyists operating in Washington on behalf of foreign interests.

But Israel is one of the very few nations not listed. One might have surmised that Pat Choate had enough trouble taking on the Japan lobby at that time that he didn't want to take on the Israeli lobby as well -- but the reason seems to be that AIPAC was not required to file as a foreign agent and thus would not be listed in the book's appendix.

There are others who can weigh in on whether or not AIPAC is taking instructions from Israel's government and political leaders. If former Prime Minister Netanyahu is giving orders from his Likud seat, or Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making requests of AIPAC in its roster of political action efforts, then AIPAC should be registered appropriately. It's an interesting question.

But one thing that I can report from my trip to Israel last year is that there are some in the Israeli government who do not want to own AIPAC's actions and advocacy.

Then Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Public Affairs Gideon Meir (and now Israel's Ambassador to Italy) told me that "AIPAC does not represent the interests of the Israeli government. This organization may mean well but these diaspora organizations -- in order to keep and retain their members -- present battles in black and white and see only two sides. I have to deal with five sides -- or seven sides -- to a problem; and sometimes AIPAC and these diaspora groups undermine our efforts."

This would argue against AIPAC registering as a foreign agent. But if memos came down the pike that Israel is giving AIPAC clear instructions, then the requirement of registration should be implemented.

-- Steve Clemons

Woolsey Watch: Oil and Anti-Semitism


AIPAC conference speeches (video): Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh and Former CIA Director James Woolsey

James Woolsey Should Lose Security Clearance
March 23, 2007

woolsey dinner.jpg

Former CIA Director James Woolsey is speaking at Yale University next Thursday afternoon. If you are nearby, you should go.

Woolsey will be speaking for he Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism on Thursday, 29 March, at 4:15 pm in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, Room 101, 63 High Street in New Haven.

His topic: "Energy, Security and the Long War of the 21st Century."

I think Jim Woolsey's work to support greater energy independence in the U.S. is laudable -- while I have strong disagreements with him on how he has positioned himself as a financial winner in this war on terror while so many American men and women are paying with their lives, family emotional and financial security, and careers for a war he has helped flame as a pundit. I also strongly disagree with the former CIA Director's advocacy of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard's release.

That said, it would be interesting to hear Woolsey talk about the "long war."

Ask him where the best opportunities are for profiteers in this long war we face. Where is putting his money? He'll probably say "Toyota stock" -- but press him.

Seriously though, I think anti-semitism as a trend is important and worthy of study. Years ago, I helped the Pacific Rim Institute of the American Jewish Committee get access to high-level Japanese political and cultural leaders for discussions to help stem what was a rising tide of anti-semitic literature in Japan. The material that some Japanese cults were producing was really disgusting and needed a response.

I just don't know what Jim Woolsey's energy concerns have to do with anti-semitism studies -- unless in his remarks (that I hope someone reports on) he is going to paint a broad brush stroke alleging anti-semitism against all the Middle East regimes that sit on oil -- even those regimes that are trying to propose a final peace solution with Israel. That would be a sad outcome of Woolsey's appearance at Yale. Let's hope he proves my suspicions unfounded.

Charles Small, the Yale program director, is an accomplished academic and may just be bringing in someone like Woolsey because of the cache of having a former CIA Director. It wouldn't matter to Small perhaps what Woolsey was speaking about -- even if it was something like Eastern shore birdwatching.

But I suspect that Woolsey has been invited in part because of his overdrive activities advocating Jonathan Pollard's release or as a tireless advocate of another war in the Middle East.

Perhaps I'm just being cynical, but it would be useful to hear from any Yale attendees on how much hyperbole Woolsey engages in next Thursday.

-- Steve Clemons

Tony Snow has balls?

White House spokesman Snow faces surgery
POSTED: 2:50 p.m. EDT, March 23, 2007


He said Friday that tests since the growth was discovered in his lower right pelvic area have been negative, but that doctors decided to remove it to be sure.

About That Word Apartheid

by Mahoney, John; Adas, Jane; Norberg, Robert

April - May 2007
The Link - Volume 40, Issue 2

June 1917: London. Dr. Chaim Weizmann, future first president of Israel, and Gen. Jan Christian Smuts, future prime minister of South Africa, meet to exploit British imperial interests for their own purposes. Weizmann argues that a Palestine opened for Jewish settlement will help England safeguard its Middle East interests. Smuts sees the wisdom of supporting the Zionist enterprise, as Jews in South Africa, by the end of World War I, constitute per capita the wealthiest Jewish community in the world. Later, he will tell the Anglo American Committee of Inquiry that he was “one of those who in 1917 took an active part in the planning of the Balfour Declaration.” Two years following his death in 1950, Israel will dedicate the Smuts Forest in the Judean Hills, overlooking the Weizmann Forest.

May 1948: Prime Minister Jan Smuts extends de facto recognition to the newly established state of Israel. Days later, Smuts’s party loses to the apartheid Nationalist party, many of whose members had backed Adolph Hitler.

1949: Daniel F. Malan, the new South African prime minister, who in 1938 had led the opposition to Jewish immigrants from Nazi Germany to South Africa, extends de jure recognition to the Jewish state.

July 5, 1950: West Jerusalem. Israel enacts the Law of Return by which Jews anywhere in the world, that is, by virtue of being born of a Jewish mother or being a convert, have a “right” to immigrate to Israel on the grounds that they are returning to their own state, even if they have never been there before.

1951: Pretoria. Prime Minister Daniel Malan introduces the Bantu Authorities Act, which sets aside 13% of South Africa’s poorest land to establish “homelands” for the different black ethnic groups. The remaining 87% is reserved for the white population. The idea is to co-opt local black tribal leaders to run the Bantustans, thereby creating a ruling black elite with personal and financial interests in maintaining the separateness.

July 14, 1952: By putting into effect the Citizenship/Jewish Nationality Law, Israel becomes the only state in the world to grant a particular national-religious group—the Jews—the right to settle in it and gain automatic citizenship.

1953: West Jerusalem. South Africa’s Prime Minister Daniel Malan becomes the first foreign head of government to visit Israel. He returns home with the message that Israel can be a source of inspiration for white South Africans.

1955: Military cooperation begins with Israel’s delivery of Uzi submachine guns to South Africa. By 1971, South Africa will be manufacturing the Uzi under a license arranged with Israel through Belgium.

1958: South Africa. Hendrik Verwoerd, editor of the virulent anti-Semitic newspaper Die Transvaler, becomes prime minister. During his tenure, Nelson Mandela is tried for treason, the African National Congress banned, the Sharpeville massacre perpetrated, and the “grand apartheid” plan introduced.

1959: Pretoria. The Self-Government Act is passed granting the homelands self-governing, quasi-independent status. Ten “homelands” will eventually be created, each comprising broken tracts of eroded land incapable of supporting their large designated populations. Only two will be totally coterminous, the others will be scattered blocks, some widely dispersed.

November 6, 1962: New York. When Israel supports a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning South Africa’s policy of apartheid, South African prime minister Verwoerd declares that Jews “took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” Despite its U.N. vote, Israel remains one of South Africa’s chief trading partners. Reflecting on this contradiction, the former Israeli ambassador to Pretoria Alon Liel will later acknowledge, “At the U.N. we kept saying we are against apartheid … but our security establishment kept cooperating.”

1963: Israel sells Centurion tanks to South Africa, while South Africa, which has the fourth largest uranium reserves in the world, ships ten tons of the material to Israel for use in its Dimona nuclear reactor. On August 7, the U.N. Security Council imposes its first arms embargo on South Africa and calls on all states to comply. Later, Israel provides South Africa with technological training, anti-tank rounds, and natural uranium rods. . In August, the U.N. Security Council imposes its first embargo on arms to South Africa and calls on all states to comply. Later, Israel will provide South Africa with technological training, anti-tank rounds, and natural uranium rods.

September 1966: Cape Town. Following Prime Minister Verwoerd’s assassination, the Senior Rabbi of the Progressive Jewish Congregation, Rabbi Arthur Super, eulogizes him as a man who, like Moses of old, led his people to the Promised Land after 60 years of wandering. Chief Rabbi Professor Abrahams calls Verwoerd “the first man to give apartheid a moral ground.”

June 1967: Pretoria. When Israel launches the Six Day War, the South African government releases over $28 million to Israel from Zionist groups and permits South African volunteers to work and fight in Israel. Israel occupies the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Sinai Peninsula. The first Jewish settlements begin.

August 1, 1967: Israel enacts the Agricultural Settlement Law, which bans Israeli citizens of non-Jewish nationality, e.g., Palestinian Arabs, from working on Jewish National Fund lands, i.e., on well over 80% of the land in Israel. Knesset member Uri Avnery states: “This law is going to expel Arab cultivators from the land that was formerly theirs and was handed over to the Jews.”

1968: Israel and South Africa refuse to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and bar inspection of their nuclear plants by the International Atomic Energy Commission. In June, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir rejects U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers’ Peace Plan that would require Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, and calls upon Jews everywhere to denounce it.

April 4, 1969: Haifa. Reflecting on Israel’s 20th anniversary, General Moshe Dayan is quoted in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz telling students at Israel’s Technion Institute that “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You don’t even know the names of these Arab villages, and I don’t blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either… There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”

March 26, 1970: Pretoria. South Africa passes the Homelands Citizenship Act that defines blacks living throughout South Africa as legal citizens of the homelands, even if they have never stepped foot in their “homeland,” thereby stripping them of their South African citizenship and whatever civil and political rights they had.

April 28, 1971: C. L. Sulzberger, writing in The New York Times, quotes South African Prime Minister John Vorster as saying that Israel is faced with an apartheid problem, namely how to handle its Arab inhabitants. Sulzberger writes: “Both South Africa and Israel are in a sense intruder states. They were built by pioneers originating abroad and settling in partially inhabited areas… For diplomatic reasons, neither overstresses their bond in public."

April 1976: Prime Minister Vorster, who had been interned during World War II for being a Nazi sympathizer and commander of the fascist Ossewabrandwag that sided with Hitler, visits Israel and concludes a comprehensive bilateral agreement whereby the two nations pledge themselves to each other’s survival and freedom from foreign interference. Within the space of a year, South Africa will become Israel’s single largest customer for weaponry.

October 26, 1976: South Africa. Transkei becomes the first of the “homelands” to be granted “independence.” Its assembly controls many internal matters, such as law enforcement, health and education, but all of its decisions are subject to the control of the South African government. Bophuthatswana will be granted “independence” the following year, then Venda in 1975, and Ciskei in 1981. Not one of the “states” will be recognized by any foreign government.

November 1977: The U. N. Security Council imposes a Mandatory Arms Embargo on South Africa. Israeli foreign minister Moshe Dayan says Israel will simply ignore the resolution. South Africa trades 50 metric tons of yellowcake uranium for 30 grams of Israeli tritium, a radioactive isotope used as a component in triggering thermonuclear reactions. Three major Israeli electronics companies, Tadiran, Elbit, and Israeli Aircraft Industries, help South Africa design and build its own electronics manufacturing capability, and sell it a variety of electronic and infra-red equipment for sealing its borders to prevent passage in and out of insurgents.

February 7, 1978: Pretoria. South Africa Minister of Plural Relations and Development Connie Mulder tells the House Assembly: “If our policy is taken to its logical conclusion as far as the black people are concerned, there will be not one black man with South African citizenship.” By the early 1980s, some 3.5 million blacks (or 55% of the total black population) will be expelled from their homes and resettled in the bantustans.

September 13, 1978: Washington, D.C. The Camp David Accords are signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and witnessed by President Jimmy Carter. The Accords reaffirm U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, which prohibit acquisition of land by force, call for Israel’s withdrawal of military and civilian forces from the West Bank and Gaza, and prescribe “full autonomy” for the inhabitants of the territories. Begin orally promises Carter to freeze all settlement activity during the subsequent peace talks. Once back in Israel, however, the Israeli prime minister continues to confiscate, settle, and fortify the occupied territories.

May 14, 1979: Tel Aviv Radio announces that South Africa has become the first government to establish a tourist office in Israel. El Al and South African Airways, the two national airways, already have signed reciprocal agreements. By the end of 1981 the Israeli press will report a rise of 50 percent in Israeli tourism to the apartheid state.

September 14, 1979: Johannesburg. The Financial Mail, in an article entitled “Policies of Apartheid of the Government of South Africa,” reports that when arms and diamonds are taken into account, “Israel is already one of South Africa’s biggest trading partners.” Israel supplies South Africa with the Jericho missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and a joint naval project is developed for nuclear submarines, to be built in South Africa with assistance from Israeli engineers and designers. Israel also provides South Africa with Dabur patrol boats, Reshef missile boats, Gabriel ship-to-ship missiles, state-of-the-art night vision helicopter equipment, and training in Israel for South African navy personnel. Israeli professor Benjamin Beit-Hallachmi will later conclude that for decades Israel played a “crucial role in the survival of the apartheid regime, breaking the international arms boycott to become South Africa’s main foreign arms supplier.”

September 22, 1979: Aboard a ship in the South Atlantic. Israel and South Africa test a nuclear device. Details of the test and the nuclear cooperation between the two countries are closely guarded secrets.

March 20, 1980: The Los Angeles Times, citing an Israeli state radio announcement, reports that Israeli defense minister Ezer Weizman has gone on a “routine secret mission” to South Africa to discuss joint production of the Lavi aircraft. .

1980: South Africa achieves nuclear status with the firing of a weapon from the 155mm howitzer that Israel helps South Africa obtain from the U.S.

February 10, 1981: Israel. The newspaper Ha’aretz reports that Israeli defense minister Ariel Sharon has just spent ten days with South African troops along the Angolan border in Namibia. Uri Dan, a close associate of Sharon, who accompanies him on the trip, quotes a senior South African officer, who tells him: “Don’t underestimate the influence the example of the Israeli army as a fighting army has on us.” Four hundred U.S-made 113AI armed personnel carriers and U.S.-made 106mm recoilless rifles are sent to South Africa via Israel.

March 4, 1983: Israeli radio reports that “close ties will be established between Israel and Ciskei, one of the puppet states set up in South Africa for the blacks.” The radio also quotes South African reports that Israel will supply weapons to Ciskei.

October, 1984: The Israeli West Bank settlement of Ariel is twinned with Ciskei’s “capital” Bisho. Ciskei’s Israeli representative Yosef Schneider observes: “It is symbolic that no country in the world (except South Africa) recognizes Ciskei, just as there is no country in the world that recognizes the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.”

December 13, 1984: New York. The U.N. General Assembly passes resolution 39/72C, entitled “Relations between Israel and South Africa,” which declares: “… that the increasing collaboration by Israel with the racist regime of South Africa, especially in the military and nuclear fields, in defiance of resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, is a serious hindrance to international action for the eradication of apartheid … and constitutes a threat to international peace and security.”

February 23, 1985: Israeli journalist Yossi Melman reports in Jane’s Defense Weekly that a South African delegation has concluded a visit to Israel by secretly signing contracts with Tel Aviv worth $5-million for cooperation in joint ventures in high science technology. The agreement is negotiated by the Israeli ministries of finance and trade and industry and approved by the Israeli cabinet.

March 1985: Denis Goldberg, a Jewish South African sentenced in 1964 to life in prison for “conspiring to overthrow the apartheid regime,” is released through the intercession of his daughter, an Israeli, and top Israeli officials, including Israel’s president. Arriving in Israel, Goldberg says that he sees “many similarities in the oppression of blacks in South Africa and of Palestinians,” and he calls for a total economic boycott of South Africa, singling out Israel as a major ally of the apartheid regime. Pledging never to stay in a country that is a major supporter of apartheid, Goldberg moves to London.

September 1985: New York. Israel’s foreign minister Yitzhak Shamir announces his country will not institute sanctions against South Africa, and will retain “normal” relations with Pretoria. Two years later, as prime minister, he will say: “We have no reason to highlight our relations with South Africa, but we have no wish to join sanctions either, the like of which have often been employed against Israel.”

September 13, 1985: Rep. George Crockett (D-MI), after visiting the Israeli-occupied West Bank, compares the living conditions there with those of South African blacks and concludes that the West Bank is an instance of apartheid that no one in the U.S. is talking about.

November 5, 1985: Israel. A South African purchasing mission visits Israel to procure a “sophisticated Israeli-made electronic border fence.” According to Knesset member Mattiyahu Peled, Israeli Defense Forces soldiers show the delegation how the electronic fence works in the Jordan Valley.

December 13, 1985: The Committee for International Trade Union Rights announces that 12 major U.S. corporations have joined a boycott of South African goods: Safeway Stores, Mervyn’s, Montgomery Ward, F.W. Woolworth, Carter Hawley Hale, Thrifty Drug, Nordstrom, Sprouse Reitz, Macy’s California, Sears Roebuck, J.C. Penney and K Mart.

1986: South Africa unveils its jet fighter, the Cheetah, which is virtually identical to the Israeli Kfir-TC2 jet. The following year the Jerusalem Post reports that South Africa was recruiting Israeli engineers who worked on the Lavi aircraft. The United States voices concern because it has heavily subsidized the Lavi project and worries that the technology is being transferred to South Africa.

September 1987: Washington D.C. The Rev. Allan Boesak, president of the World Alliance of Churches and a leader of the struggle in South Africa, tells a Palestinian human rights group: “What is it that makes Israel take into its bosom a government that in spirit, philosophy, and actions reminds us more of Hitler than any other government today? There is something wrong here… We must remember because, you see, your struggle and our struggle is not only against apartheid either here or there. It is not only against injustice, exploitation; it is not only against the dehumanization of our peoples; it is also a struggle against forgetfulness… We must remember that this land, yours and ours, belongs to all of us and not simply to a small elitist clique who now has claimed the land simply because they have more guns, more deadly weapons, and more friends in high places.”

March 16, 1988: Washington, D.C. The Congressional Black Caucus raises the Lavi issue with Israel’s Prime Minister Shamir, calling it an “unconscionable” use of U.S. aid. Rep. George Crockett also questions the prime minister on “his government’s brutal response to the Palestinian uprising,” and asks when “the curfews, the closed military zones, the beatings, the house raids, the gunshots, the rubber bullets, the tear-gassing and mass deportations would end.” The Black Caucus then tells Shamir: “Recalling the inhumanities of slavery in this country, having suffered the indignities of racial discrimination, Black Americans recognize and identify with those who are oppressed throughout the world. We, thus, feel a growing kinship with the Palestinians.” The Caucus also complains that all of the federal programs geared toward helping low-income Americans received only $491 per capita for fiscal year 1987, while aid to Israel in 1987 was $686 per capita.

September 13, 1993: Washington, D.C. Following secret negotiations in Oslo, Norway, Israel and the P.L.O. sign the “Declaration of Principles on Interim Self Government” (DOP). It will be followed by the 1995 Oslo II Agreement which will divide the Palestinian territories, excluding East Jerusalem, into three zones: Area A, comprising disconnected districts, will include 17.2% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and will be under the security and civil control of the Palestinian Authority (PA); Area B, 23.8%, will be under Israeli security control, with the PA responsible for some social and civil services; Area C, approximately 59%, will remain under full Israeli occupation. In time, Area C, on the West Bank, will be subdivided into smaller population reserves by a Jewish-only road bypass system and four major Jewish-only settlement blocs. Oslo will also institutionalize a permit and closure system whereby Palestinians will face conditions similar to those faced by blacks under the pass laws.

May 10, 1994: South Africa. Watching Nelson Mandela take the oath of office as president of the new, desegregated South Africa, F. W. de Klerk, the out-going president of the apartheid regime, reflects on his Afrikaner ancestors: “The dream they had dreamt of being free and separate people, with their own right to national self-determination in their own national state in southern Africa was the ideal to which I myself had clung until I finally concluded, after a long process of deep introspection, that, if pursued, it would bring disaster to all the peoples of our country, including my own.”

July 2000: Maryland. President Bill Clinton convenes the Camp David II Peace Summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Clinton—not Barak—offers Arafat the withdrawal of some 40,000 Jewish settlers, leaving more than 180,000 in 209 settlements, all of which are interconnected by roads that cover approximately 10% of the occupied land. Effectively, this divides the West Bank into at least two non-contiguous areas and multiple fragments. Palestinians would have no control over the borders around them, the air space above them, or the water reserves under them. Barak calls it a generous offer. Arafat refuses to sign.

August 31, 2001: Durban, South Africa. Up to 50,000 South Africans march in support of the Palestinian people. In their “Declaration by South Africans on Apartheid and the Struggle for Palestine” they proclaim: “We, South Africans who lived for decades under rulers with a colonial mentality, see Israeli occupation as a strange survival of colonialism in the 21st century. Only in Israel do we hear of ‘settlements’ and ‘settlers.’ Only in Israel do soldiers and armed civilian groups take over hilltops, demolish homes, uproot trees and destroy crops, shell schools, churches and mosques, plunder water reserves, and block access to an indigenous population’s freedom of movement and right to earn a living. These human rights violations were unacceptable in apartheid South Africa and are an affront to us in apartheid Israel. “

October 23, 2001: Ronnie Kasrils, a Jew and a minister in the South African government, co-authors a petition "Not in My Name," signed by some 200 members of South Africa's Jewish community, reads: "It becomes difficult, from a South African perspective, not to draw parallels with the oppression expressed by Palestinians under the hand of Israel and the oppression experienced in South Africa under apartheid rule." Three years later, Kasrils will go to the Occupied Territories and conclude: "This is much worse than apartheid. Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses. We had armored vehicles and police using small arms to shoot people but not on this scale."

February 2002: An out-of-court settlement is reached with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai B'rith, which is accused of spying on U.S. citizens in order to neutralize critics of Israel's military and economic ties to South Africa at the height of its apartheid. For the plaintiffs, former U.S. Rep. Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey declares: "With this settlement, it can be confirmed that the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith sold and gave its illegally collected information ... to foreign intelligence services—the Israeli Mossad, and the South African intelligence services, during the period of the apartheid government."

April 29, 2002: Boston, MA. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he is “very deeply distressed” by what he observed in his recent visit to the Holy Land, adding, “It reminded me so much of what happened in South Africa.” The Nobel peace laureate said he saw “the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. Referring to Americans, he adds, “People are scared in this country to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful—very powerful. Well, so what? The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists.”

May 2002: Israel. A major study of Israeli settlement practices by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem concludes: “Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

May 16, 2003: Former prime minister F. W. deKlerk says that the U.S.-sponsored Roadmap, which is supposed to lead to a Palestinian state, looks exactly like South Africa’s “grand apartheid” that prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd set in motion in the mid-1950s.

June 16, 2003: Washington, D.C. At a forum co-sponsored by the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Americans for Peace Now, Akiva Eldar, senior political correspondent for Israel’s leading daily Ha’aretz, warns that Ariel Sharon’s model for a Palestinian state is not that of a nation-state, but rather the South African bantustan model of apartheid. He quotes Sharon as telling the former prime minister of Italy Massimo D’Alema that “the best solution for the Palestinian problem is bantustans.”

July 3, 2003: Writing in American Prospect, Israeli researcher Gershom Gorenberg concludes that it is no accident that Ariel Sharon’s plan for the West Bank “bears a striking resemblance to the ‘grand apartheid’ promoted by the old South African regime,” and he also quotes Sharon as saying “the bantustan model was the most appropriate solution to the conflict.”

July 29, 2003: Prime Minister Sharon rejects President Bush’s appeal to halt construction of a separation barrier that Israel is building on occupied Palestinian land. When completed, the barrier will form a complex system of electronic fences and concrete walls, up to 24-feet high in population areas, and ultimately stretching for 420 miles. Hundreds of acres of West Bank land will be confiscated for the barrier’s construction, and the route will incorporate into Israel all of East Jerusalem and major Jewish settlement blocks on the West Bank. A year later, the World Court will advise that the barrier is illegal and must be dismantled.

April 26, 2004: Former deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti writes in The Guardian: “The bantustan model for Gaza … is a model that Sharon plans to copy on the West Bank. His announcement that he will not start to disengage before construction of the fence is completed along a route that will include all settlement blocs (in keeping with Binyamin Netanyahu’s demand), underscores the continuity of the bantustan concept. The fence creates three bantustans on the West Bank—Jenin-Nablus, Bethlehem-Hebron, and Ramallah.”

August, 2004: A report by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem concludes that the for-Jews-only road system Israel has established in the West Bank “bears striking similarities to the racist Apartheid regime,” and “entails a greater degree of arbitrariness than was the case with the regime that existed in South Africa.”

September 11, 2006: Israel. The editorial board of Israel’s leading newspaper, Ha’aretz, observes that “the apartheid regime in the territories remains intact; millions of Palestinians are living without rights, freedom of movement or a livelihood, under the yoke of ongoing Israeli occupation.”

October 27, 2006: Tel Aviv. Spiritual leaders from America’s historic African-American churches arrive in Israel to see the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the lens of their faith and their experience of the civil rights movement in the United States. On their return, Dr. Belletech Deressa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America observes: “This crisis is different to me than any other one. I always thought that yes, there is a difference between the Palestinians and the Jews; yes, there is animosity. But now I realize that it is worse than racism and worse than apartheid. I don’t really have a word for it.”

November 2006: Former president Jimmy Carter brings out his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” In it the Nobel Peace Prize laureate calls the Israeli policy in the West Bank “a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights.”

Israel’s defenders react: Michael Kinsley, in a Washington Post article “It’s Not Apartheid,” calls Carter’s book “foolish and unfair;” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, declares that Carter “is engaging in anti-Semitism;” Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz calls the apartheid analogy “outrageous” and judges the book is “shallow and superficial;” and David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, calls the analogy “inflammatory” and the book “a crude polemic that compromises any pretense to objectivity and fairness.”

Supporters of Carter’s contentions respond as well: In The Nation, Henry Siegman, former national director of the American Jewish Congress, observes that even more extreme criticisms of Israel’s policies are found regularly in the Israeli media, and Yossi Beilin, a Knesset member and leader of the Israeli team in the Oslo negotiations, agrees, noting, “There is nothing in the criticism that Carter has for Israel that has not been said by Israelis themselves.” Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Dugard, considered the father of human rights in South Africa and Special U.N. Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, accepts the apartheid analogy, saying, “Many aspects of Israel’s occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime. Israel’s large-scale destruction of Palestinian homes, leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted assassinations of Palestinians far exceed any similar practices in apartheid South Africa.”

The president’s book quickly makes the best-seller list.

December 4, 2006: Former national security advisor to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, writes in the Financial Times: “President Carter, in my judgment, is correct in fearing that the absence of a fair and mutually acceptable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to produce a situation which de facto will resemble apartheid, i.e., two communities living side by side but repressively separated, with one enjoying prosperity and seizing the lands of the other, and the other living in poverty and desperation.”

December 11, 2006: Israel. Speaking on Israel Radio, President Carter comments: “When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200-or-so settlements with each other, with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa.”

December 26, 2006: In violation of the terms of the American-backed “Road Map” to peace, Israel’s Defense Ministry and settler groups announce plans for the construction of a new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, the first in ten years. Not counting the 190,000-plus settlers in East Jerusalem, over 260,000 Jewish settlers now live in the West Bank among 2.5 million Palestinians. These indigenous Palestinians, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, are confronted with: 54 permanent military checkpoints; 29 “Green Line” checkpoints; 38 locked gates in the separation barrier for Palestinians, with keys kept by the Israel Defense Forces; 160 flying checkpoints per week; 12 internal checkpoints in Hebron; plus various permanent physical obstructions, such as concrete blocks, 219 dirt piles, 20 miles of trenches, and 69 locked gates at entrances to villages with keys held by the IDF; and 445 miles of forbidden roads.

January 19, 2007: A new military order goes into effect that, with a few exceptions, forbids Israelis or foreigners from transporting Palestinians in the West Bank. Israelis have yellow license plates and can travel on Jewish-only bypass roads in the West Bank. Violators of the ban can be punished with five years’ imprisonment.