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What The Osama Bin Laden Video Reveals As Impetus For Terrorism: Israel

by on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm EDT in Afghanistan, Middle East, Pakistan, Politics, World

Fox & Friends recently spoke with former Head of CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, Michael Scheuer, about the Bin Laden videos obtained during the Navy Seal raid at the al-Qaeda leader’s compound.

One of the program’s hosts, after describing how Bin Laden seemed obsessed with his own self image, asked Scheuer if this is why the Obama Administration would release video tapes with no audio — merely to expose Bin Laden’s vanity:

My Question is, Clay mentioned ‘No audio on these tapes’, why did the government release them? You can’t glean a whole lot from them, there’s no audio, no real information. Is it to kind of demystify what we all know, and what people think of Bin Laden?

What the host was not anticipating was that Scheuer would use this question as an opportunity to debunk the official neocon/Fox News Channel “they hate us for our freedom” narrative:

No. No, the government has lied to the American people since 9/11. What they don’t want you to hear again is that Osama Bin Laden doesn’t care — and his organization and his allies do not care — about liberty in America, democracy in America, gender equality in America, or elections.

What Bin Laden was saying on the tape that they’re talking about almost certainly was, “We don’t care how you think or how you live. We want you out of our world, and we will attack you until you stop doing that.”

And of course Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton, and Mr. Obama have consistently told America this is about how we live and how we think, rather than what we do.

And as you might expect, the Fox News host promptly changed the subject, probably kicking himself for having ever asked the question.

HERE’S THE FULL INTERVIEW:

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Well, Haaretz has now reported what Bin Laden did actually say in his final video (filmed just before his death). Addressed to President Obama, the video was focused entirely on the plight of the Palestinians, and in particular US support of Israel.

Bin Laden was quoted as saying:

“America will not be able to dream of security until we live in security in Palestine. It is unfair that you live in peace while our brothers in Gaza live in insecurity.”

“Accordingly, and with the will of God, our attacks will continue against you as long as your support for Israel continues,” the al-Qaida chief said in the audio recording.

“So the message we wanted to convey through the plane of our hero, the fighter Umar Farouk, may God be with him, confirms a previous message which had been sent to you by our heroes of September 11,” bin Laden reportedly said in the minute-long recording.

Bin Laden’s statement that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict remains an impetus for terrorism, is consistent with what has already been stated by both former US President Bill Clinton and US Middle East envoy George J. Mitchell; as well as by nearly every cabinet member of the Obama Administration, who have asserted repeatedly that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is “vital to US national security interests”.

If President Obama were really serious about pressuring Israel to end the illegal settlements and embrace peace wouldn’t this new revelation be something he would add to his rhetorical arsenal in pressing the US Congress to stop undermining his Middle East peace efforts?

Wouldn’t he be using this revelation to bring the American public on board for tougher pressure on Israel? Since the 9/11 attacks, wars have been waged, trillions of dollars spent, tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives lost — all to allegedly “protect Americans from terrorism”. And here is Bin Laden (mastermind of 9/11) pointing directly at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as an underlying cause for his terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately, President Obama does not want this topic to be part of the public discourse in the run up to his 2012 reelection campaign. Why? Because it would complicate his efforts at winning over America’s deep-pocketed pro-Israel political donors. Imagine Candidate Obama reaffirming his ‘sacrosanct’ commitment to Israel if it were widely known that this foreign country’s intransigence posed a direct threat to our national security. He’d be accused of treason.

In fact, Obama has been trying to repair frayed ties with pro-Israel groups and Israeli officials, due to the little pressure he actually did put on Netanyahu during the last two years. By recently promoting Dennis Ross — the ‘living embodiment‘ of the Israel Lobby — to Chief White House Middle East strategist the President sent a clear message to these groups that he has transitioned away from pursuing Middle East peace to accepting the status-quo.

Here is one possibility: Obama’s new strategy for peace in the Middle East may be — get this — to just do nothing.

The UN General Assembly (the same entity which recognized Israel as a state in 1948) is gearing up to declare Palestine a state along the 1967 borders this September, and the United States holds no veto power to stop it. Any future Israeli settlement expansion, or even a resistance in abandoning the present illegal settlements, would no longer be met with “unhelpful” comments from the US State Dept, but instead with harsh sanctions by the international community.

Let’s face it, the Israel Lobby (backed by full unflinching support of the United States Congress) will punish the President politically and contest all efforts to press Israel to choose peace over apartheid. So why should he continue to bother? It would make sense for him to just sit back and watch the UN General Assembly mandate the 1967 borders as the official dividing line between Israel and Palestine.

Essentially by doing nothing, the President will pay no political price (he’s powerless to stop it), he will assure peace in the Middle East under his Presidency, thereby removing a major impetus for world terrorism — crucial to the national security interests of the United States. And equally as important, the Palestinians will finally become free — free from the oppression, the violence, the cleansing, and bigotry they’ve endured over the last sixty years.

The President may have finally found a way to get his cake and eat it too.

Obama’s Veto of UN Resolution On Settlements Harms His Own Standing in World

by on Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm EDT in Egypt, Middle East, World

The Arab world has long suffered as a direct consequence of misguided U.S. policies in the Middle East. From propping up their brutal dictators, to funding and granting immunity to Israel as it colonizes Palestinian lands and bombs its neighbors with impunity, the U.S. has underwritten most of what is wrong in the region.

Until recently, the voices on the Arab streets have largely been muzzled by their oppressive (U.S. supported) regimes. But all that is finally changing. The people have had enough. They want a voice. They have taken to the streets, and are demanding their inalienable rights: freedom from repression.

First came the protests in Tunisia, and that quickly spread to Egypt. Like wildfire, the protests and demonstrations soon moved on to Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Oman, Algeria, etc.

One could argue that the seeds were sown when President Obama made his famous 2009 Cairo speech to the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. In it, he asked for a new beginning between the U.S. and the Muslim world — one “based on mutual respect.”

On promoting democracy in the Muslim world, Obama stated:

I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

He stated, “America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.”

He said of Israel’s colonization of Palestine:

… Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Though generally well received, the speech provoked a large degree of skepticism from much of the Arab world. Like Americans at home, they wanted to believe Obama was an authentic ‘change agent’, but as everyone knows, the status quo is the status quo for good reason. Powerful entrenched interests work 24/7 to massage ‘change agents’ into ‘status quo’ agents.

The Muslim world wondered if this new U.S. President, with an Arab-sounding name, would be true to his words. Would he apply pressure to their oppressive rulers to implement democratic reforms? Would he take the necessary political risks in the United States (See: Israel Lobby) to force Israel to end its colonization, and to forge peace with the Palestinians?

As far as promoting democracy, WikiLeaks cables revealed that the Obama Administration did next to nothing to press Mubarak to end his brutal policies and adopt democratic reforms.

Even after Egyptians took to the streets, the Obama Administration cautiously waffled around — never really taking a strong position until the smoke had all but cleared, and they knew definitively that the protesters would prevail.

To further undermine U.S. commitment to democratic change, once it became clear that Mubarak was finished, the Administration brazenly tried to insert Mubarak-equivalent (and alleged torturer) Omar Suleiman to take the reigns.

The so called ‘peace process’ between Israelis and Palestinians has been a much more transparent failure for the Obama administration, due in part because the U.S. is supposed to have more leverage over the Israelis — showering them with billions in aid and holding veto power over UN condemnations against their actions.

But what has forever been etched into the world consciousness is a disturbing image of the United States playing a subservient role to Israeli interests.

First the Netanyahu government outwardly defied the Obama Administration, by refusing to extend a 10-month partial ‘moratorium’ on its illegal settlement expansions in the West Bank, which brought the ‘peace process’ to a screeching halt.

The humiliated U.S. President undermined his own standing further by cowering back to the Israelis with an unbelievable display of servility. Obama offered them $3B — in addition to the $3.5 billion in annual aid — and pledged to grant them preemptive immunity for 1 year against any prospective UN Security Council resolutions (regardless of what Israel might do).

All this, for merely extending the partial moratorium — only in the West Bank — for an additional 90 days. And Israel refused.

Robert Fisk of The Independent rightly castigated Obama as an ‘appeaser':

In any other country, the current American bribe to Israel, and the latter’s reluctance to accept it, in return for even a temporary end to the theft of somebody else’s property would be regarded as preposterous. Three billion dollars’ worth of fighter bombers in return for a temporary freeze in West Bank colonisation for a mere 90 days? Not including East Jerusalem – so goodbye to the last chance of the east of the holy city for a Palestinian capital – and, if Benjamin Netanyahu so wishes, a rip-roaring continuation of settlement on Arab land. In the ordinary sane world in which we think we live, there is only one word for Barack Obama’s offer: appeasement. Usually, our lords and masters use that word with disdain and disgust.

Anyone who panders to injustice by one people against another people is called an appeaser. Anyone who prefers peace at any price, let alone a $3bn bribe to the guilty party – is an appeaser. Anyone who will not risk the consequences of standing up for international morality against territorial greed is an appeaser … Yet that is precisely what Obama has done in his pathetic, unbelievable effort to plead with Netanyahu for just 90 days of submission to international law. Obama is an appeaser. […]

After the U.S. proved itself to be powerless in forcing Israel to cease stealing Palestinian land, the Palestinians naturally concluded that the United States would never do what was necessary to force Israel to recognize a Palestinian state. So they turned to the United Nations Security Council and asked for a resolution that does little more than recognize international law (as it already exists) — condemning Israel’s illegal settlement building.

The language in the UN Security Council resolution is ironically the official US stated policy on the matter, and so the Muslim world watched with interest to see if Obama would do as he promised them, and “align [his] policies with those who pursue peace”.

Obama — because Israelis rejected his unprecedented $3B offer — had essentially laid the political groundwork to allow this resolution to pass. This was Obama’s grand moment to show some fortitude. He offered the Israelis the world, for almost nothing in return, and they swiftly rejected it. Here was Obama’s moment to make good on his promise that the United States indeed sought a more just and equitable future for the Muslim world — one based on mutual respect …

HE VETOED IT!

By doing so, President Obama has squandered any remaining credibility he might have had as a champion for democracy, human rights, and international law. And he has reaffirmed to the world that the United States is not now, nor ever has been, a fair and honest broker for middle east peace.

UPDATE:

WATCH as Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, struggles to justify the U.S. veto to Al Jazeera:

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Is AIPAC’s Iron Grip Over The US Congress Waning?

by on Friday, December 17, 2010 at 2:43 pm EDT in Middle East, World

A new column by Josh Ruebner, who heads US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, gives a behind the scenes look at what actually transpired in the latest AIPAC-sponsored Congressional Resolution which condemns any unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state.

AIPAC, of course, would have you believe (this message came via twitter) that everything was ‘business as usual':

By voice vote, the House passed a resolution opposing a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. No member claimed time in opposition.

Ruebner, however, reveals that “H.Res.1765 was pushed through quickly with the co-sponsorship of only 53 Representatives,” using a procedure called Suspension of the Rules.  This procedure, “supposed to be reserved for non-controversial resolutions such as the naming of a post office, prohibits the resolution from being amended and limits debate on it. In exchange for these restrictions, the resolution must get at least a 2/3 vote to pass rather than a simple majority”.

Ruebner gives us a picture of what actually occurred on the House floor:

… the resolution was done in such a helter-skelter fashion that it was put on the calendar for a vote late Tuesday night while Rep. Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was still drafting it. Most Congressional offices did not even see the text of the resolution until a few hours prior to the vote. Many Congressional offices were reportedly infuriated that such an important foreign policy declaration was being treated in such an inconsiderate manner. […]

Berman, who managed the debate on the House floor for the Democrats, appeared flustered and befuddled as he looked repeatedly and anxiously around the chamber for Representatives to appear magically to speak on behalf of the resolution. In the end, Berman mustered only himself and three other Jewish Representatives—Gary Ackerman, Eliot Engel, and Shelley Berkley—to offer full-throated support for the resolution. […]

These staunchly pro-Israel Representatives’ proceeded to take the podium and spew pure propaganda — the kinds of misrepresentations that are all but certain to please AIPAC and Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu.

One bright note was Representative Lois Capps’s upbraiding of Berman for his shameless hawking of this AIPAC resolution:

After rising “in very reluctant support” of what she termed “yet another one-sided resolution,” Capps decried the resolution for failing to mention “Israel’s expansion of settlements.” She noted that “Resolutions, like the one we are considering today, are clearly done for domestic political consumption much more than for having any positive impact on the conflict. We should not be ignorant of the fact that this Chamber’s pattern of passing resolutions that are one-sided can, indeed, undermine our credibility to be serious brokers for peace.

Having been put in his place by Capps, Berman called for a voice vote rather than a recorded vote. Fewer than ten Representatives then on the floor voted by “unanimous consent” to adopt the resolution, giving the illusion that the entire House gave its imprimatur to it.

Reubner’s entire post is worth reading, and can be found over at Mondoweiss.

The World Moves To Action: ‘Israel Must End Its Illegal Occupation!’

by on Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm EDT in Middle East, Politics, World

After having cringed through the most recent installment of the Middle East Peace ‘negotiations’, where the Netanyahu government publicly ‘castrated’ US President Barack Obama, the rest of the world appears to have had enough. Incoming US Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), recently promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he and his fellow Republicans would […]