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Killing by Sanctions

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While Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who is currently advising presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, famously said that the estimated 500,000 children who died as a result of U.S. sanctions on Iraq was “worth it.” It was, perhaps, a rare moment of candor from a politician, an admission that Washington is willing to support ostensibly non-lethal measures in such an all-encompassing fashion as to produce mass deaths of people who have no ability to influence the actions undertaken by their government. Sanctions are collective punishment, a blunt edged weapon used all too frequently by Washington to compel foreign governments to submit without having to go to war. There is nothing benign about them and Americans should regard them as potentially just as deadly as direct military intervention.

There are currently a number of countries that are subject to U.S. enforced sanctions but only three fall under the category of “state sponsors of terrorism.” They are Iran, Syria and Sudan. That status entails a number of U.S. Government sanctions including a ban on arms-related exports and sales; controls over exports of dual-use items; prohibitions on economic assistance; and imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. The financial measures require the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank or other international financial institutions and prohibit any U.S. person from engaging in a financial transaction with a terrorism-list government without a Treasury Department license issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The license and other approvals are reported to be complicated and the process is extremely difficult to navigate, discouraging anyone from having business dealings with the targeted countries.

Other sanctions are not always directly related to terrorism. They sometimes target select individuals and organizations that are considered by the U.S. government to be focal points of some aberrant behavior. A number of Russian officials have been sanctioned over Ukraine and even over the functioning of the country’s judiciary while the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been sanctioned both for its involvement with radical groups and its support of Tehran’s missile program. But the most devastating sanctions are those which are directed against a country and nearly everything that it does economically, which was the case with Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Currently, Sudan falls under that category.

I recently spent a week in Sudan as the guest of a NGO. The objective was to show a group of hopefully influential foreign visitors the devastating effect of sanctions on the local economy. We visitors were of course aware that we were being fed a line that was most favorable to the government position so we also spoke to other Sudanese who were not necessarily part of the program as well as to United States government officials working at the Embassy.

The status of state sponsor of terrorism was bestowed on Sudan back in 1993 after the Sudanese government invited Osama bin Laden to stay in the country. Subsequently it was also claimed that Khartoum was supporting radical groups in Africa and elsewhere, to include Boko Harum, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Since that time the conditions that led to the designation have changed dramatically. Bin Laden was asked to leave and relations with a number of militant groups were severed. Sudan has even severed diplomatic relations with Iran.

The latest edition of the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism states that “Sudan remained a generally cooperative partner of the United States on counterterrorism. During the past year, the Government of Sudan continued to support counterterrorism operations to counter threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan.” Beyond that, the Sudanese intelligence service has been active in sharing information on terrorists in neighboring countries, to include Yemen, Uganda, Eritrea, Somalia, Chad and Libya. The information has been of such value that in 2010 the United States intelligence community advocated decoupling intelligence sharing from restrictions imposed on bilateral contact due to concerns over developments in Darfur.

In 2010 John Kerry, then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, pledged to the Sudanese government that the terrorism designation would be lifted but failed to follow through. Later, in 2013, as Secretary of State, he was reminded of his promise by his Sudanese counterpart but apparently was thwarted in taking any action by advisers around President Barack Obama, most notably Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Both had in part made their reputations by writing and speaking to condemn Sudan. They were among the first to describe the conflict in Darfur as a genocide and are correctly perceived as hostile to any change in Sudan’s status.

The other sanctions on Sudan, referred to as a “comprehensive trade embargo,” blend claims of terrorism support with alleged human rights violations. They were imposed by Bill Clinton in 1997 and supplemented under George W. Bush in 2006. The last of these were linked to what has been described as a civil war starting in 2003 pitting the mostly Arabic speaking north of the country against the mostly indigenous black African south and west. The western media depicted the conflict in a racial context as well as in terms of religion, with Muslim pitted against Christian and animist, but the reality was much more complex than that with groups also dividing along linguistic, tribal and even occupational lines, sometimes featuring nomadic herdsmen against farmers.

Most sources agree that the various wars in and around Sudan have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese as well as between 14,000 and 200,000 who were reportedly “enslaved” in abductions carried out by both sides. The conflict in Darfur has been described as a genocide with a government supported militia known as Janjaweed and the rebels together having been accused of carrying out numerous atrocities. As a consequence, Sudan’s then-and-now president Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been on the receiving end of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court.

Al-Bashir, it should be noted became president by virtue of a military coup, though he has now been elected to office three times, once in an uncontested election in 1996 and in 2010 in a multiparty election that was described as “highly chaotic, non-transparent and vulnerable to electoral manipulation.” The most recent election took place on April 2015 and was strongly criticized by the U.S., Britain and Norway, all of whom had sent observers. Al-Bashir heads the ruling National Congress Party, but in fact he rules largely by fiat. He is either very popular or very unpopular with the Sudanese people depending on whom one talks to.

Genuine moves towards Sudanese democracy through the mechanism of a currently ongoing National Discussion are promising but are likely to slowly evolve in reality. The country’s legal system is based on Sharia but there is general tolerance of other religions in practice if not in law. The National Museum has a section relating to Christianity in Sudan and there is a Christian hour on television every Sunday. The Roman Catholic cathedral is located near the government center and there is also an active Coptic community. Christian community leaders openly support the existing government, just as they do in Syria, perhaps recognizing that available alternatives might be much worse.

A cease fire with the southern states in Sudan in 2005 led to the involvement of a United Nations Mission and a referendum in 2011 resulted in secession from the north. South Sudan is now an independent country that is enduring its own birth pangs. There are some reports of continued violence possibly instigated by Khartoum as well as little noticed government repression in the southern Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, which have been largely closed to the media and foreign NGOs pending yet another referendum to determine their future status.

Darfur followed with its own peace agreement in 2006. It is relatively quiet though military operations against a final hold out group of rebels in the region continue. Humanitarian and UN affiliated groups are in Darfur to monitor the process of reconciliation and it is expected that there will be another referendum to determine the region’s final status. At least some of the continuing unrest has been attributed to the activity of radicals from Chad, who are able to freely cross the open 600 mile long border to enter Darfur.

Business leaders in Khartoum note that there has been considerable economic growth in Sudan in spite of sanctions, concentrated in the sectors of oil, agriculture and mining. Since 1997, Sudan has been working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to initiate reforms and create sustainable growth. There is, however, considerable official corruption and across the board poverty, largely among those in engaged in agriculture.

In spite of some positive developments, Washington’s sanctions have blocked almost all business with Sudan. Selling or buying anything to or from Sudan requires clearance by OFAC and is largely limited to agricultural, communications or medical products. The paperwork requires months to complete and the actual purchases have to be made through third parties, meaning that everything costs more and comes without warranties, service or support. This is because the United States has effectively shut down any banking transactions or extensions of credit with Sudan and when no one can get paid except by suitcases full of cash it becomes impossible to conduct business. Few foreign banks exist in Sudan and they are very careful about how they operate. Even the IMF is reportedly having difficulty in funding its own projects in country. It all means that Sudan cannot pay its bills through conventional correspondent banking arrangements as foreign banks are fearful of being fined by the United States. No one is willing to take that risk.

To be sure, part of Sudan’s economic woes come from its sustaining a war economy in response to the unrest in several regions. But beyond that no investment money coming in due to sanctions means no improvement in agricultural technology, which would benefit the poorest part of the population, or in health care or in education. Poverty has been increasing due to sanctions and attempts to evade the restrictions have resulted in smuggling, money laundering and an increase in unconventional banking to include hawala transfers that are not subject to normal bank controls. Because Sudan is currently not integrated into the international banking system its transactions cannot be monitored to prevent terrorist money transfers.

And there is also a human price to pay for inability to move money. Sudanese health care providers believe that many preventable deaths are attributable to persistent lack of medicinal suppplies or diagnostic equipment due to sanctions. Even if the numbers are overstated, that is almost certainly true. In a recent case three patients in Darfur died for lack of renal dialysis solutions.

I oppose sanctions in principle because I believe they are a blunt instrument that punishes innocent civilians when broadly construed while having no effect at all when directly targeting the country’s relatively wealthy and unreachable government officials. If sanctions are to make any sense they should be designed to achieve a quantifiable result but that is rarely the case and they frequently serve no purpose whatsoever beyond dishing out punishment. It has been claimed that sanctions actually worked in Sudan because its government has moved to meet some of Washington’s demands over Darfur and South Sudan, but that is a simplistic explanation for rather more complex phenomena that were likely driven by multiple constituencies and interests.

More often than not, sanctions harden a government’s resolve to resist, as they did in Cuba, and even become useful to the regime as an excuse for government failures. The explanation provided by George W. Bush’s special envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios that sanctions “send a message…to start behaving differently when they deal with their own people. That’s what this is all about,” is hubristic imperialism at its finest. It is reported in Sudan that many young Sudanese hate the United States and it is not difficult to understand why.

And there are good selfish reasons for the United States to lift sanctions and normalize relations with Khartoum. Sudan is an autocracy but no worse than American allies like Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt. It is active in fighting alleged rebels but is far more restrained than the current Saudi military intervention in Yemen. And though Khartoum has had sometimes ambivalent relationships with Islamic radicals it has been far less engaged in that fashion than Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. So Sudan passes the smell test for being a disagreeable regime that is compatible with United States’ broader interests.

And those broader interests are clear, including allowing American companies to participate in the future development of the country. U.S. sanctions have forced the Sudanese to turn to Moscow and Beijing for assistance. Russia is involved in gold mining and China is increasingly engaged in transportation, communications and energy projects. The Sudanese rail network and its international air carrier Sudan Air have collapsed due to lack of spare parts for their U.S. made hardware, an opportunity for American suppliers to quickly reenter the market. It is not in the U.S. national interest to create conditions favorable to competitors seeking to dominate the potentially large and developing Sudanese economy, ceding to them a significant foothold in East Africa by default.

Furthermore, Sudan is a bridge between Africa and the Arab world. It harbors no international terrorists and is a relative oasis of calm in a region in turmoil, well placed to monitor developments in neighboring Egypt, Chad, Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, Zaire, Central African Republic, Uganda and Yemen. It has made a significant contribution in counterterrorism and could do even better if properly motivated and provided with the tools needed, potentially playing a major role in the U.S. sponsored Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism. Normalizing relations with Sudan’s banks could, inter alia, stop money laundering and shut down possible terrorist money transfers.

There is, in short, no good reason to continue the status quo apart from the objections of two Obama advisers who have a personal stake in depicting Sudan in the most negative fashion. Unfortunately U.S. foreign policy has drifted away from supporting actual national interests and is mired in responding to various constituencies, in Obama’s case the “responsibility to protect” advocates. One can quite imagine that with something like a Marco Rubio it would revert to the mindless belligerency mode, but as both models seek to remake foreign governments they should equally be eschewed. Countries like Sudan and Iran should not be made to feel that they are permanently under the heel of the American jackboot. Nor should Washington feel compelled to play that role. Except in those rare situations where trade embargoes can inhibit flows of weapons to belligerents in a hot war, sanctions are useless, diminishing both those who apply the punishment and those who are on the receiving end. They should never be considered a serious instrument for foreign policy.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Economic Sanctions, Terrorism

43 Comments to "Killing by Sanctions"

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  1. Sudan is on the secret list mentioned by General Wesley Clark of the seven nations the USA will attack and takeover.

    listed after Syria.

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  2. The fact that a war criminal and a witch – in character and appearance – Madeleine Albright, is considered a “statesman” and is allowed to walk free amongst civilized people is an indication of how deep into the putrid muck this once great country has sunk.

    A monster who openly admits 500,000 dead children is “worth it” is Devil incarnate.
    The she-devil belongs in a dungeon, chained to the wall, so as not to escape and cause more deaths of innocent children, instead of walking around free and giving advice to another reptilian warmonger, Hillary Rodham.

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
    Thomas Jefferson

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  3. The Roman Catholic cathedral is located near the government center

    Phil, did you speak with Roman Catholic leadership in Sudan?

    It is worth noting that Juan Zarate, one of the charter members of Stuart Levey’s OFAC, is now engaged in monitoring the Vatican’s finances

    In June 2014, [Zarate] accepted an appointment to the Board that oversees the Vatican’s Institute for the Works of Religion (“IOR”), a move announced by Cardinal Pell of the Vatican Finance Ministry as part of Pope Francis I’s efforts to clean up the finances of the Vatican.[4] Zarate currently sits on the advisory board for nonprofit America Abroad Media.

    Zarate, who often mentions his friendship, business partnership and affiliation with Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of Foundation for Defense of Democracy, where Zarate serves as Chairman and Senior Counselor of the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF) and “sits on several boards, including those of the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)

    In 2013 Mondoweiss published a report of major funders of FDD; they include zealous supporters of Israel such as Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus; hedge fund billionaire Peter Singer, and gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson. Samantha Power has sedulously nurtured her relationship with Adelson as well as with other extremist leaders of the Israel first community in the USA such as Rabbi Schmuley Boteach and Elie Wiesel. http://mondoweiss.net/2015/03/rightwing-genocide-speeches/ and http://mondoweiss.net/2013/06/samantha-advocate-community/

    One of the novel features of the Treasury Department’s OFAC is its combined control over global finance and its access to global intelligence at the highest level, as indicated by the relationship with NCTC.

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  4. I didn’t but one of my travel companions did – they were strongly supportive of what the Sudanese government is doing to protect Christians and also strongly opposed to continued sanctions, which they said are unfairly hurting their parishioners as well as all other working people in Sudan. OFAC is indeed a monster run by pro-Israel zealots by and large. The sanction regime is largely focused on punishing Israel’s perceived enemies.

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  5. I agree that the only sanctions ought to be those that prevent even more weapons being proliferated into areas of killing. Yet our national policy is to be the world’s #1 arms dealer, with those weapons not surprisingly ending up on all sides of conflicts. Gradually I am coming around to Dr. King’s view of our nation tragically being the largest source of evil in the world, thanks to the overwhelming pre-eminence of this outsized global role in armaments. It doesn’t help our declining standing that we can’t make calls or write anything that is not subject to prurient bureaucrats’ interest in the lives of others, an evil that hadn’t yet metastasized by means of technology, but is the inevitable consequence of trying to rule the world.

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  6. Mr. Giraldi. Please do give some credit to Ms Madeleine Albright for her emotional feelings for Israeli Jews once she discovered her family Jewish roots. She cried on air over the murder of three Israeli girls by a Jordanian border guard.

    On January 29, 2015, a large number of protesters disturbed a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington DC, when three former US secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and George Shultz, all Israel-First Jews, were about to enlighten the committee members on global security issues, in Russia, Iran, Syria, terrorism, etc. The protest was lead by members of anti-war group CODEPINK that called for a citizen arrest of Henry Kissinger as a WAR CRIMINAL. Watch video below.

    https://rehmat1.com/2015/01/31/john-mccain-defends-three-israel-first-criminals/

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  7. This essay reminds me of an earlier article about sanctions, and what it helped trigger.

    A Very Perfect Instrument
    The ferocity and failure of America’s sanctions apparatus

    https://harpers.org/archive/2013/09/a-very-perfect-instrument/

    (modeled after the “success” of Churchill’s prior efforts)

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  8. Hey Homer,

    The Jordanian border guard actually killed seven Israeli girls, not three.

    Sherm

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  9. punishing Israel’s perceived enemies.

    doesn’t that pretty much include all of us?

    wasn’t that Madeleine Albright’s point when she said it was “worth it”?

    that those children were all just budding anti-Semites whose death was “worth it” to the Jewish state because it removed half a million existential enemies of the chosen? And more importantly; set in the racial memory of the Iraqis for generations to come the terrible price of raising one’s hand to the Jews*. (because those children were paying the price for Saddam having sent the families of Palestinian martyrs money)

    *that was the whole point of Dresden- a literal holocaust of staggering enormity intended to instill a harsh symbolic message into the racial memory of all German generations to come. (it worked)

    {it was also the point of Fallujah and the DU birth defects that will occur there for generations as a reminder to the Iraqi people what the Zios are capable of, and the terrible price of insolence.}

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  10. Hey Sharon – Even if believe a professional Zionist liar like you – how about your Jewish maniacs who murdered 100,000 Arab Jews by high radiation doses?

    On August 14, 2004 – Israel’s Channel 10 showed a documentary, “100,000 Radiation”, exposing the ugliest secret of Israel’s Labor Zionist founders; the deliberate mass radiation poisoning of nearly all Sephardi youths.

    https://rehmat1.com/2015/12/25/israeli-jews-celebrate-killing-of-a-muslim-toddler/

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  11. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4769439,00.html

    Israel is preparing for next war with Hamas ( taking advantage of the period between incoming and outgoing presidency in 2017 as it has done in 2009 and 2013 ) Sanctions lead to war because the persons or cabal advocating and imposing sanctions through their multiple plants in WB, IMF, US and European treasury and foreign secretariat or State Dept and in BBC and CNN and FOX are in the know from the general knowledge that the walking back would not be an option ,status quo could be riducled ,denounced ,and could be portrayed as appeasement .
    This is the idea and reason behind starting sanction. once started Israelis can work many ways by asking for money from the sanctioned country and for help and for slow destruction of morality and society , if not obliged they would ask US yo tighten the screw.
    The leaders who don’t have to worry about prosecution ( look at Neocon gangs in Bush cabinet) can lurch forward with vengeance to stop FOX CNN. BBC. WSJ NYT NY POST from labeling them as wimp or weak or anti American or pro Muslim . They have everything to gain by shedding blood .

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  12. killed seven Israeli girls, not three

    Hi general

    not to disparage in any way the deaths of these seven beautiful children of God

    but are the deaths of these seven girls any more tragic and horrible than the lives of 5,000,000 Iraqi children?

    why does she cry over those seven yet dismiss the lives of those half a million beautiful children of God, especially when those death are due to the policies that she helped put into place.

    why the shocking double standard? Are the lives of Jewish children worth any more than the lives of Arab children?

    if 5.00.000 can be dismissed as a trifle, and seven agonized over with tears, then perhaps we might have reason to wonder if the Secretary of State cares more about some murdered children than others.. eh?

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  13. Hey Homer,

    The 100K radiation numbers were wildly exaggerated and the health effects were also wildly exaggerated.

    Basically, some new immigrants to Israel in the 1950s – both from Europe and the Arab world – were treated with radiation as a way to destroy ringworm and other infections. Although this sounds crazy today, at the time it was actually standard medical procedure throughout the world.

    Some Sephardic radical extremists have exploited this event as “proof” of their having been discriminated against. Most of these claims have been discredited.

    Homer, you’re a nuclear expert. You should know about radiation and medicine.

    Sherm

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  14. o/t

    check this out.
    Jews are now controlling — successfully — how Christians pray

    February 19, 2016 by Dexter Van Zile

    UPDATED: UCC Missionary Promotes Hostility Toward Israel For Lent

    UPDATE: As of this writing (Feb. 22, 2016), the YWCA of Jerusalem is no longer providing in-bound links to the Lenten Reflection edited by Rev. McGrail, but the Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is still promoting the document.

    SECOND UPDATE: As of this writing (Feb. 23, 2016), the Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is no longer promoting the document. CAMERA commends both the YWCA and Global Ministries for its decision to stop promoting the text, which is no longer available on the YWCA of Palestine’s website.

    For most Christians, Lent is a time of introspection, fasting and repentance. But for Rev. Loren McGrail, a pastor in the United Church of Christ working in Jerusalem, the forty days before Easter are an opportunity to use her position at the YWCA in Jerusalem to broadcast anti-Israel propaganda to fellow Christians in the United States.
    McGrail, a UCC pastor whose work is supported by Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as well as the Church of Scotland, serves as a communications officer for the YWCA office that operates out of Jerusalem, which is part of a chapter that calls itself “The National YWCA of Palestine.”

    This chapter of the YWCA works to promote the welfare of women in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (by, for example, educating Palestinians about the evils of honor killings, which are on the rise in Palestinian society).

    It also broadcasts anti-Israel propaganda to Western audiences.

    The most recent example of this tendency is “Breaking Down the Wall: Lenten Reflections,” a document posted on the website of the YWCA’s office on February 9, 2016. This document is comprised of five chapters which can either be used to pray and meditate during the five weeks of Lent or during a particular day of the Holy Week leading up to the Resurrection (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter). Each chapter includes a poem, or reflection, an article on the Arab-Israeli conflict and “Questions for Reflection.”

    This seems innocent enough, but every article in the booklet highlights an alleged wrongdoing by Israel, the Jewish state or by Israeli Jews. The booklet portrays the Israel-Palestinian conflict as if it is entirely the fault of Israel and as if the Palestinians bear no blame or guilt for the violence.

    To make matters worse, some of the articles in the meditation booklet are marred by material omissions that result in a dishonest and hostile depiction of the Jewish state.

    The fact that this Lenten meditation has been produced and disseminated during a time when Israeli Jews are being stabbed and run over in the streets outside their homes by Palestinians who have been exposed to hateful antisemtic incitement by their leaders for years is very troublesome.

    Why would Christian organizations ostensibly committed to peacemaking produce and disseminate such a document during a time such as this?

    Are they attempting to fuse antisemitic incitement that permeates Palestinian society with the Christian antisemitism that historically has manifested itself on Good Friday? http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=3258

    Dexter van Zile is a Christian (more appropriately, a non-Jew) who receives payment from CAMERA to bash Christians. CAMERA is the media censorship group funded by Islamophobe Aubrey Chernick of “Obsession” fame, among others. On Jan 18 2016 CAMERA hosted a gathering in Los Angeles to rev up Christian zionists to redouble their support for Israel. http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2015/12/11/upcoming-conference-to-study-assault-on-pro-israel-evangelicals#.Vsyhi1LmHFI=

    van Zile posted ugly comments on Rev. Loren McGrail’s YWCA Palestine website, then followed up with congratulations for capitulating to CAMERA’s demand to remove the prayers. http://www.ywca-palestine.org/viewer.php?ID=317

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  15. but are the deaths of these seven girls any more tragic and horrible than the lives of 5,000,000 Iraqi children?

    Hey Corporal ,

    I believe you are exaggerating on the iraqi children killed . 5 million children ??

    The Sudanese government and the janjaweed militia have killed 2 million . Indonesian has killed half a million in occupied papua . Assad has killed half a million in Syria , and bashar is so good it only took him 3 years to do it !!!!! But he’s a good guy coz he he’s got blue eyes and blonde hair , is r selected and he likes putin !!!!!! is he a closet alt righter ????

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  16. Politics is an extension of finance, and war/sanctions is an extension of politics. One should remember how the war between the U.S. and Japan got started. Years before Pearl Harbor, it started with sanctions, freezing assets, and blockades. Bombs were sure to follow. Similar things are now happening between the U.S. and Russia, and anybody who doesn’t think it is dangerous hasn’t been paying attention.

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  17. You’re damn right about that degenerate hag Halfbright–er, Albright. She ought to be horsewhipped. Of course, every warmonger and Israel-Firster in Washington, District of Corruption should be, too.

    The U.S. Government is an open pit of lawlessness and depravity. Warmongers, torturers, and war criminals walk around unpunished. Instead, they’re law professors (?!), corporate board members, government officials, federal judges, and the like. They’re on the lecture circuit.

    If and when, say, Vlad Putin or somebody decides to administer an ICBM enema to Washington, District of Corruption, it’ll be a good start. . . .

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  18. anonymous
    says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    I was wondering whether someone would be — ahem — distracted by the error in numerical expression.

    You must have stopped reading before getting to this:

    “why does she cry over those seven yet dismiss the lives of those half a million beautiful children of God, especially when those death are due to the policies that she helped put into place.”

    So, now you can answer the actual question.

    You can, can’t you?

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  19. . 5 million children ??

    that’s all?

    I’ve made that many typos in the last year. I guess it really is no big deal if it was only .5 million children that died horribly for lack of medicine and clean water. Why would anyone care about such a small number?

    Can you imagine a mother begging and pleading for some antibiotics that would save her dying child, only to have some callous hag say ‘no, it’s worth it for your child to die so that Israel can make a point to the other Arab and Persian leaders in the region not to mess with Israel’.

    The reason that the deaths of those hundreds of thousands of children are more relevant than the children killed in Papua is because I was forced to fund and support such genocidal evil. That ugly bitch was telling me that my tax dollars were being spent wisely because she considered the cruel deaths of those children as a nice price to pay to put pressure on a man who the US government had supported with chemical weapons so long as he was using them to kill other children that the vile hag and the US gov had it in in for.

    Assad has killed half a million in Syria

    Assad was perfectly happy to reign over one of the most stable and thriving countries in the Middle East until our Satanic Zionist government decided to cut the head off Libya and then see to it that a bunch of stone age religious sub-humans got hold of the weapons there so that they could destroy Syria in much the same way our government destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya and so many others. It’s that nice?

    In the future I’ll try to be a little more circumspect as to my proof reading and such, since it bothers you so much. But when I’m typing about a “woman” who dismisses the cruel deaths of so many children, and what those mothers must have gone through watching their children die slowly, not to mention the fathers and others, sometimes I get a little riled, and type things wrong. I actually think causing the intentional deaths of children as something that is terrible and even monstrous. And knowing that my own government is doing it, and I’m being forced to be complicit with such unimaginable evil is a little difficult for me. Alas.

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  20. Are you saying that you made a mistake with the 5 million statistic but corrected it later in your post when you referred to 500,000 ?

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  21. {Assad has killed half a million in Syria …}

    You are a liar.
    Assad hasn’t killed “half a million”.
    Total deaths as of August 2015 , per UN, is approximately 250,000 deaths: civilian and military.
    Not 500,000.
    Most of the deaths have been caused by the cannibals.
    Foreign invaders.
    Terrorists.
    Criminals.

    According to opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR):
    As of 2016:
    Pro-Gov forces killed: 97,000.
    Anti-Gov forces killed: 88,000.
    Civilians killed: 78,000.

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  22. The reason that the deaths of those hundreds of thousands of children are more relevant than the children killed in Papua is because I was forced to fund and support such genocidal evil.

    So the fact that half a million papuans have been killed is not relevant to you because you think your government is not involved in funding the killing . The United States government and the Australian government fund the Papuan genocide by their involvement in the Grasberg mine , the worlds largest gold mine and the worlds 3rd largest copper mine , located in occupied Papua . Now that you see that you and your government are funding the genocide in occupied Papua , has Indonesia’s genocidal evil become more relevant to your sensibilities ??

    Assad was perfectly happy to reign over one of the most stable and thriving countries in the Middle East

    In 1982 in the town of Hama in Syria , Bashars father had a similar uprising in the stable and thriving Syria . He solved the problem by killing 30,000 inhabitants of Hama with artillery fire. This is Hama Redux . Syria has never been thriving or stable . In fact its a majority Sunni state ruled over by an Alawaite shia minority ( 10% of the population ) dictator .

    But when I’m typing about a “woman” who dismisses the cruel deaths of so many children, and what those mothers must have gone through watching their children die slowly, not to mention the fathers and others, sometimes I get a little riled,

    Do you ever get riled over the half a million civilians killed in occupied papua ??
    Do you ever get riled over the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in occupied Tibet ??
    Do you ever get riled over the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in Sudan ??
    Do you ever get riled over the half a million people living in slavery in Mauritania ??
    Do you ever get riled that 700 people have been executed in Iran for the crime of homosexuality ??
    Do you ever get riled that in 14 islamic republics in the world , converting from islam to christianity is punishable by the death penalty , however converting from christianity to islam is not a crime at all ??

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  23. Why don’t you stick to the point. It was that damned witch that said that the deaths of 500,000 children was worth it. The question is why was she so unmoved by this in the light of her tears for those Israeli girls? And you lied about the figures for Syrian deaths too.

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  24. You’re good at deflecting, but nowhere did he trivialize any of your examples. The subject however was Madeleine Albright (an American politician), and she didn’t comment “it was worth it” about any of the people dead in your examples. She did say it about Iraqi children – and Israeli girls did make her cry.

    Perhaps in an alternate universe she commented about Papuans, and cried for dead Australian girls. But until we are in that universe you are just going off-topic with your pointless questions.

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  25. Do you ever get riled over the half a million civilians killed in occupied papua ??
    Do you ever get riled over the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in occupied Tibet ??
    Do you ever get riled over the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in Sudan ??
    Do you ever get riled over the half a million people living in slavery in Mauritania ??
    Do you ever get riled that 700 people have been executed in Iran for the crime of homosexuality ??
    Do you ever get riled that in 14 islamic republics in the world , converting from islam to christianity is punishable by the death penalty , however converting from christianity to islam is not a crime at all ??

    If we’re being truthful, neither you nor Madalaine Albright really give a rats a** about these people and all you’re engaging in is a bit of sophistry trying to make the case that people who insist in critizing the Zionist project are obsessed with this one injustice to the exclusion of all these others.

    Here’s the trouble with your argument: none of these other cases have established a powerful lobby ensconced in the capitals of the US (AIPAC), England (BICOM, CFI, LFI), France (CRIF), etc.

    If we consider the case of the Israel Lobby in the USA alone, they have managed to extract:

    1. financial support – in the form of a tribute from US taxpayers of $3.1B to go to $5B,
    2. diplomatic support – in the form of 39 vetoes to shield Israel from UNSC draft resolutions that “condemned, deplored, denounced, demanded, affirmed, endorsed, called on and urged Israel to obey the world body.”
    3. military support – adopted PNACs strategy of remaking the ME by launching a GWOT (aka a War on Islam) to regime change those countries deemed hostile to the Zionist project, all in an effort to enhance the security of the villa of the jungle

    If you don’t mind, could you tell us the names of the lobbies of these other cases you’ve listed above and (assuming they even have a formal lobby) do a bit of a comparative analysis of the relative success these lobbies have had in their lobbying efforts, in terms of extracting financial, diplomatic, and military support from the US.? I’m thinking of a table showing the $, UNSC resolutions, and number of military interventions. Very eager to see your results!

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  26. anonymous
    says:
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    Sir, the “mistake” is now yours — my only contributions to this thread are #18 and this. To be clear, I’m not “Rurik,” who addressed your tactics, too, in #19.

    I chimed in to note your dissembling which, by the way, continues and is pretty ham-handed.

    The question has been put to you, yet again, in #23.

    You’ve yet to even acknowledge it, much less to answer.

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  27. thank you. good to know.

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  28. marwan is a cubicle jew paid to deflect, detract, misdirect, waste time, and lie.

    did the ugly hag ever return the art stolen by her pappy?

    silly question.

    jews take

    never return.

    jew law: what is ours is ours. what is yours is ours.

    the zionized west should be sanctioned by the rest of the world.

    who needs their rubbish and lies?

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  29. Ah, Marwan ..

    Let’s see now

    So the fact that half a million papuans have been killed is not relevant to you

    of course not. Why would it be? I have nothing whatsoever to do with them, anymore than those Indonesians who died in that tsunami a little while back, or some guy on the other side of town who was murdered for his watch. These deaths are tragic, and I have a normal sense of human compassion for all those who suffer, perhaps even slightly more than normal, but even so, there are some deaths that I’d welcome. Those soulless dogs of ISIS who torture and then line up boys and men on the ground and then execute them – I cheer when Putin deals harshly with that lot. I’m not a bleeding heart.

    So, I hope that helps you to distinguish between the kinds of deaths I consider unfortunate, vs. the kinds of deaths I consider abominations against human decency. I was horrified as a child when I was shown the grainy newsreels and pictures of emaciated bodies in ditches resulting from the Holocaust. It effected me deeply. But I had nothing to do with it other than belonging to a species that can be utterly inhumane and callous and homicidal to others of the same species. Then I learned of Dresden, and how an entire city, overflowing with refugees and allied POWs and nothing but women, children and old men was systematically burned in a firestorm, an actual, literal holocaust with women running screaming through the streets with their hair on fire and their faces burning off. With children dying slowly from the heat in basements and shelters. And somehow knowing that this way my government who had deliberately planned for these people to suffer so horrifically, also effected me. In part because of the unimaginable cruelty of it all, but also because somehow for this crime, my soul was stained. The men who did this were still in power inside my own government. And not only that, but unlike the Holocaust, the victims of this terrible war crime were universally considered irrelevant by our text books, media, government and clergy. Apparently because of their ethnicity or because it was us who slaughtered them. And if we do it, well then it’s not only OK, it’s darn right exceptional, Godly and all for freedom!

    And so I’ve had to sit and watch decade after decade as MY government has butchered and slaughtered its way across the globe. I learned at an early age the importance of the Rule of Law, but I had to watch Clinton make a mockery of all notions of International Law when he bombed Serbia (on behalf of Muslim terrorists and notorious drug dealers) and imposed America’s (unaccountable oligarch’s) will. And in our media, all those Serbian deaths were well worth it because the very fact that they were killed by America, meant they had it coming.

    And then the first gulf war, when papa Bush treacherously sent in April Glaspie to trick his buddy Saddam into marching into Kuwait, and then of course the babies tossed out of incubators and the whole, pathetic charade, all to destroy Saddam’s military capabilities that Bush and Rumsfeld had built up in the first place so long as he was using them to slaughter Iranians with. But when instead he decided that he was his own man and could criticize Zionism, he had to be slapped down. OK, fine. I have no love for a man like Saddam, but the children, that’s a very different matter. By targeting the children, and denying them medicines and clean water and deliberately causing their horrific and excruciating deaths, I knew we were indeed the Great Satan. What kind of a people deny children medicine?! Monsters. That’s what kind. So yea, I had and have problems with that, OK? I have huge problems with the dropping white phosphorus on the children of Gaza. White phosphorus that I have to help pay for. A cruel program of slow genocide and generational oppression and deliberate torment for reasons that boil down to the vilest kind of delusional notions of racial supremacy that would make Himmler blush for its sheer hubris and sickening arrogance.

    And so when one of these supremacists who’s been responsible for the depraved deaths of so many children, and treats it all as a trifle, but blubbers like a baby over the relatively tiny number of deaths of her tribe, it strikes something in me as terribly, monstrously wrong.

    Perhaps all those images I was shown as a child of the Holocaust really did have an effect on me. Perhaps what I came away from those images with was a sense that humans have a capability to behave like very real-life fiends to each other, and that we should avoid doing that if we can. What I didn’t come away with is a philosophy that the only problem with the Holocaust is that it was the wrong people in the camps. And that while persecuting and executing Jews is wrong and a terrible sin (it is), I was supposed to understand that in contrast, burning German children alive and starving to death German POWs in death camps and genociding Palestinians and Iraqis is all perfectly laudable, because it is us doing it. You see? I just never got that part.

    I know this is getting too long.

    I wonder, forget the 500k children she says it was worth it to perish. Just reduce it to one. And then ask yourself if you’d be willing to see that child die a terrible death by personally denying it medical attention that would save it. To order armed guards to keep the family helpless to save their child as he dies under your orders, because you don’t like the policies of a man you’re not willing to try to fight face to face, but you are willing to starve this one child to death to at least make your impotent point. When the child dies and it makes do difference in the grand scheme of things, except for the suffering that you have imposed, how do you come away from the mothers sobs and the hatred in the fathers eyes and then just tell yourself, well, sure, that was cruel, but then again, it sure was “worth it”.

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  30. Was this same radiation treatment used on Israeli children, or was it reserved exclusively for on children of immigrants from Europe and the Arab world? Or, are Jewish children immune to ringworm and infections?

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  31. Shortly after Amchel Rothschild gained economic control of the British Empire, sanctions and embargoes soon emerged as a major weapon used by Jewish bankers to punish any country arising as an economic rival. Pre-WW 1 Germany, where millions of German civilians were deliberately starved due to Jewish imposed food and economic embargoes serves as a good example of one of the earlier such embargoes.

    http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/spotlights/blockade.htm

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  32. A bit long winded don’t you think . The point is this . Previously you stated that you don’t care about the indonesian occupation and genocide of papua because the united states is not involved or funding it . I pointed out that the united states is involved and funding it by their participation in the Grasberg mine , located in occupied papua , the largest gold mine in the world , among other things . Yet you still say you don’t care about the genocide of papuans . Hmmmmmmm wonder what the real reason is ??????

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  33. Economic sanctions lead to the deaths of the most vulnerable | Republic Reborn
    says:
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    […] the excellent Philip Giraldi, writing in the Unz Review.  Writing on the devastating and counterproductive effects of sanctions, Philip […]

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  34. Yet you still say you don’t care about the genocide of papuans . Hmmmmmmm wonder what the real reason is ??????

    Papua is the name of a country, and Papuans are the name for the people who live there. If you’re going to try to pretend like you care about them, perhaps you might start by showing them the courtesy of capitalizing their name, as it’s considered a common courtesy to do so.

    Other than that, either answer the query that’s been put to you now as to why that hag cares so much about some children, and not at all about others, or STFU.

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  35. Rurik , you seem like a typically happy white nationalist !!!!!

    morphing into a grammar whore = tantamount to admitting you have no counter argument .

    and yes i do care about papuans sincerely . in fact i have visited and seen their plight first hand , and do what i can to help , which admittedly is not much since im not exactly at oligarch status !!!!

    and rurik , you should be nice to the hag , after all you are fellow travellers. you also only care about some kids and not others. i thought you would be less of a hypocrite , since you are R selected and sheet.

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  36. after all you are fellow travellers. you also only care about some kids and not others.

    no, I don’t approve of any kids being denied the simple necessities of life. Papuan, Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, white, black, brown, yellow, red or purple. I have no hate in my heart whatsoever. Especially none for children. So your smears and dishonest innuendoes only make you look like an even bigger fool, if that’s even possible.

    since you are R selected and sheet.

    https://smileyshack.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/crazy-11_files.gif?w=145&h=150

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  37. What a joke.

    US supported terrorism in Afghanistan. US aided terrorists to topple Gaddafi in Liyba. US provided arms to terrorists in Syria.
    US invasion of Iraq turned it into a haven of terrorists.

    Israel was founded through terror.
    Israel has carried out acts of terror in Iran.

    Yet, US selectively bitches about ‘state-sponsored terror’?

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  38. The good news just keeps on coming:

    [MORE]

    Major American Jewish Leader Changes His Mind About Israel
    February 22, 2016
    An Amazing Turn for a Major Leader of the American Jewish mainstream: David Gordis Rethinking Israel
    David Gordis has served as vice-president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles (now American Jewish University). He also served as Executive Vice President of the American Jewish Committee and was the founding director of the Foundation for Masorti Judaism in Israel. He founded and directed the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies which became the National Center for Jewish Policy Studies.

    David Gordis is President Emeritus of Hebrew College where he served as President and Professor of Rabbinics for fifteen years. He is currently Visiting Senior Scholar at the University at Albany of the State University of New York. Here is the article he submitted to Tikkun. We publish it with the same sadness that Gordis expresses at the end of this article, because many of us at Tikkun magazine shared the same hopes he expresses below for an Israel that would make Jews proud by becoming an embodiment of what is best in Jewish tradition, history, and ethics, rather than a manifestation of all the psychological and spiritual damage that has been done to our people, which now acts as an oppressor to the Palestinian people. For those of us who continue to love Judaism and the wisdom of our Jewish culture and traditions, pointing out Israel’s current distortions gives us no pleasure, but only makes saddens us deeply.

    –Rabbi Michael Lerner

    RabbiLerner.tikkun@gmail.com

    Reflections on Israel 2016

    David M. Gordis

    While reading Ethan Bronner’s review of a new biography of Abba Eban, I was reminded of a time when in a rare moment I had the better of a verbal encounter with Eban. It happened about thirty years ago at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which brought together leaders of American Jewish organizations, sometimes to hear from a visiting dignitary, in this case Eban, Israel’s eloquent voice for many years. I was attending as Executive Vice President of the American Jewish Committee. Eban had a sharp wit as well as a sharp tongue. He began his remarks with a mildly cynical remark: “I’m pleased, as always, to meet with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, though I wonder where the presidents of minor American Jewish organizations might be.” I piped up from the audience: “They are busy meeting with minor Israeli government officials.” A mild amused reaction followed and Eban proceeded with his remarks.

    Looking back on Israel oriented meetings from those days, I attended a monthly meeting, alternating between Washington and New York, with my counterparts at the Anti-Defamation League, Nathan Perlmutter and the American Jewish Congress, Henry Siegman, along with Tom Dine of the America Israel Public Affairs Commission (AIPAC). Though the atmosphere was cordial, a clear fault line separated Perlmutter and Dine from Siegman and me. AIPAC and ADL were on the ideological and political right, particularly when it came to Israel, the American Jewish Congress was on the left and the American Jewish Committee straddled a centrist position, with its lay leadership tending center-right and its professional staff clearly center left. A policy adopted by all four public policy organization was honored inconsistently. The policy was: support whatever government was in power in Israel, right or left, and avoid criticism of its policies. This was honored when a right wing government was in power. However, the agreement dissolved when a left wing Labor government was in control because neither ADL nor AIPAC hesitated to criticize Labor government policies. At our meetings Dine and Perlmutter agreed that a Labor government in control in Israel was a problem for them. So it was Perlmutter and Dine on one side of the divide, and Siegman and me on the other.

    Things have moved a long way since those days. The American Jewish Congress has disappeared from the stage. The current executive of the American Jewish Committee appears to aspire to fill the role of the retired ADL executive Abe Foxman as a leading spokesman for the ideological and political right. AIPAC’s support of the right wing in Israel and its alliance with the right wing in the United States is more palpable than ever. And of course, there has been no significant opposition to the entrenched Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is nearing a half century in duration. Netanyahu’s “facts on the ground” steps to make a two-state solution impossible are bearing fruit, and there still appears to be no significant opposition to these policies in Israel itself. A number of smaller organizations supporting a two-state solution have emerged, notably J-Street and Americans for Peace Now, but recent steps by the Israeli government to delegitimize these groups are proceeding. The bottom line as I see it: The right has triumphed; the left has been defeated.

    The Israel of today is very far from anything I dreamed of and worked for throughout my career. I can clearly remember the day in 1948 when the State of Israel was established. I was in the fourth grade at the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn. The entire school was summoned to the schoolyard in celebration of the momentous occasion. It was announced that from that day on the school would adopt the Sephardic (Israeli) Hebrew pronunciation and abandon the older European Ashkenazic. I well remember driving out with my parents to Idyllwild Airport, now JFK, to see the first airliner with the Israeli flag adorning its tail. This was a transformative moment. Jews had returned to the stage of history after the devastation of the Holocaust. Israel was to be the great laboratory for the rebirth of an ancient tradition in a new land and in a country committed to being a model of democracy and freedom for the world.

    What happened? We can debate the reasons but the bottom line for me is that it has gone terribly wrong. On the positive side, Israel’s accomplishments have been remarkable. Israel has created a thriving economy, and has been a refuge for hundreds of thousands of the displaced and the needy. Israel has generated a rich and diverse cultural life and its scientific and educational achievements have been exemplary. In spite of these achievements, however, Israel in my view has gone astray. And it in in the area for which Israel was created, as a Jewish state, embodying and enhancing Jewish values that I see this failure. Throughout history, at its best, Jewish life and thought have successfully navigated between three pairs of values that are in tension with one another. First, the Jewish experience has balanced the rational with the affective, the assertion with the question, where often the question emerges as the more important. Second, it has embraced both particularism with universalism, probing Jewish interiorities but looking out to the larger world, recognizing the common humanity of all people. Third, it has shaped positions which looked to the past for sources and inspiration but at the same time projected a vision for a world transformed in the future into something better than its current reality.

    Present day Israel has discarded the rational, the universal and the visionary. These values have been subordinated to a cruel and oppressive occupation, an emphatic materialism, severe inequalities rivaling the worst in the western world and distorted by a fanatic, obscurantist and fundamentalist religion which encourages the worst behaviors rather than the best.

    And most depressing of all for me, is that I see no way out, no way forward which will reverse the current reality. Right wing control in Israel is stronger and more entrenched than ever. The establishment leadership in the American Jewish community is silent in the face of this dismal situation, and there are no recognizable trends that can move Israel out of this quagmire. So, sadly, after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, I conclude that in every important way Israel has failed to realize its promise for me. A noble experiment, but a failure.

    http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/major-american-jewish-leader-changes-his-mind-about-israel

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  39. [It's much better policy not to provide long extended quotes, but just a link instead]

    Here’s another one:

    [MORE]

    Alon Ben-Meir, born to an Iraqi Jewish family and a longtime negotiator between Israelis and Arabs, has faced accusations of over-optimism on the possibilities of peace but has now reluctantly concluded that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has no interest in reconciliation, prompting this open letter called “a plea for reason.”

    A Plea For Reason: An Open Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu

    Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

    I write this letter to you with a heavy heart as it pains me deeply to see the beautiful dream of a strong and proud Israel, the country that was expected to embrace what is virtuous, moral, and just, now losing its reason for being–as a free and secure Jewish state living in peace and harmony with its neighbors.

    The state’s social fabric is being torn apart by political divisiveness and economic injustice. The country is increasingly isolated, degenerating into a garrison state surrounding itself with walls and fences, vilified by friends and reviled by enemies.

    As the Prime Minister who served longest in this position, the country is virtually crumbling under your watch. The question is, where are you leading the people, and what will be in store for them tomorrow as Israel is now at a fateful cross-road and facing an uncertain future?

    Certainly you and those who follow you in good faith will disagree with my analysis, but I urge you to look carefully into the dire issues I am raising here as they unfold, for which you are now more responsible than any of your predecessors.

    You conveniently surround yourself with a corrupt political elite–ministers with no morals, no compunction, and nothing but an insatiable lust for power. They are consumed by their personal political agendas and absorbed in domestic corruption and intrigues.

    You have several such ministers–among them a Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, who endorsed the idea that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” which is nothing short of a call for indiscriminate killing that will include “its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its properties and its infrastructure”; an Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, who wants to annex most of the West Bank without giving a single thought to the ominous danger that such an ill-fated scheme would inflict on Israel; and a Cultural Minister, Miri Regev, who is out to stifle freedom of the arts and expression–who make a mockery of Israel’s democratic foundation and institutions.

    You backed three draconian bills: one would suspend Knesset members who deny Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; the second would withdraw funding from cultural institutions deemed “not loyal” to Israel; and the third would require leftwing NGOs who receive foreign funding to label themselves as such in any publication (while exempting privately-funded right-wing NGOs). You are enveloped in an ideological siege with a ghetto mentality and selective religious precepts, supported by a blind chorus of parliamentarians that only echoes your distorted tune.

    You manipulate the public with national security concerns and falsely connect security to borders, only to usurp more Palestinian land and defend the ruinous settlement policy.

    You delight in facing an inept political opposition–relegated to a permanent state of suspension–and are thrilled to see them decaying with no political plans to challenge you to find a solution to the endemic Palestinian conflict on which you politically thrive. With these lame opposition parties sitting on the fringes of political despair, they have now become easy to co-opt in support of your misguided domestic, foreign, and Palestinian-targeted policies, all in the name of national unity.

    You still boast about Israel’s economic prowess, when in fact the economy as a whole is in a state of stagnation and labor productivity is the lowest among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and a handful of billionaires control the financial heart of the state while tens of thousands of families are scrambling to survive.

    More than 1.7 million Israelis are living in poverty–775,000 of whom are children–while hundreds of millions of dollars are siphoned off to spend on illegal settlements and hundreds of millions more are spent to protect the settlers, leaving Arab villages and towns with mostly Middle Eastern Jews to rot.

    The gulf between the rich and poor is widening. The top 10 percent of the population earns 15 times that of the bottom 10 percent, making Israel one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. Tourism is diving, foreign investments are plunging, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is gaining momentum.

    The corruption and criminality among top officials is staggering; more than 10 ministers and at least 12 members of the Knesset have been convicted of crimes over the past 20 years alone. Former President Moshe Katsav and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were sentenced to seven years and 19 months in prison, respectively. Scores more were indicted, but escaped punishment through various legal loopholes often accorded to top officials.

    You discriminate against Israeli Arabs (who constitute 20 percent of the population) with your government’s policy of unequal treatment, and then question their loyalty to the state.

    Radical Zionists like you claim that a multi-culturist Israel cannot survive – that apartheid, or something like it, is the only viable alternative – essentially repeating the argument which was used in earlier European history against the Jews themselves.

    I might add with deep sorrow that discrimination is not confined to the Israeli Arabs, but extends to Middle Eastern and Ethiopian Jews four generations after the establishment of the State of Israel. The May 2015 violent clashes between police and Jews of Ethiopian origin only reveal the depth of Israel’s social disparity.

    Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, from your own Likud Party, could not have made the reality more painfully clear than when he stated, “Protesters in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv revealed an open and bloody wound in the heart of Israeli society. This is a wound of a community sounding the alarm at what they feel is discrimination, racism and disregard of their needs. We must take a good hard look at this wound.”

    Demographically, the country is facing a grave danger. The number of Israelis emigrating from Israel is roughly equal to the number of those who immigrate to Israel. Nearly one million Israelis, representing 13 percent of the population, emigrated from Israel in the past 20 years. Several polls consistently show that given the opportunity, 30 percent of Israelis would consider leaving the country, mainly for economic reasons and the lack of a prospect of ending the debilitating conflict with the Palestinians.

    In particular, the immigration of young American and European Jews to Israel is consistently trending downward. Many of them have lost the sense of pioneering spirit and excitement that gripped their earlier counterparts who wanted to be a part of a historic enterprise unmatched by any in contemporary human experience.

    The Palestinians

    You treat the Palestinians in the territories like objects, to be used and abused contingent on the call of the hour. You violate their human rights with brazen impunity and never came to grips with the debilitating and dreadful impact of nearly 50 years of occupation.

    You scornfully claim, “The Jewish people are not foreign occupiers.” You never wanted to understand the meaning of being utterly overpowered by another, of having one’s house raided in the middle of the night, terrifying women and children, one’s village arbitrarily divided by the building of fences, one’s home destroyed, and of losing the sense of having any control over one’s life.

    Invoking memories of the Holocaust as if to justify the mistreatment of the Palestinians only debases the historical relevance of this unprecedented human tragedy. One would think that those who suffered as much as the Jews would treat others with care and sensitivity. That the victim can become a victimizer is painful to face, but it is a reality nonetheless. Having suffered so much does not give you the license to oppress and persecute others.

    US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, no less, put it succinctly when he said, “…too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities…Too much vigilantism [in the West Bank] goes unchecked, and at times there seems to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law, one for Israelis, and another for Palestinians.”

    Not that I exempt Palestinians of their role, but by you and your ministers’ own actions and policy toward the Palestinians, you are inciting hostility and ultimately fostering violent extremism. You use national security to justify your prejudicial policies, including the mistreatment of the Palestinians and the expansion of settlements that became the mantra of Israel’s domestic policy, using old and tired talking points about national security which are dismissed as empty, self-convincing gospel.

    You speak in support of a two-state solution, but you have never lifted a finger to advance it; your actions only point to the opposite direction. Yes, although the Palestinians have made scores of mistakes and are likely to make many others that will severely undermine their own national interests, they are here to stay.

    Israel must determine its own destiny and not leave it to the Palestinians’ whims. You claim that the Palestinians do not want peace, but by being the far more powerful party, you can take a calculated risk, and assume the responsibility to pave the way for eventually reaching a peace agreement instead of further entrenching Israel in the occupied territories. This will make the conflict ever more intractable when coexistence is inevitable under any circumstance.

    Time is not on Israel’s side, and even though they are suffering, the Palestinians can wait. You cannot freeze the status quo, and given the regional turmoil, violent extremism targeting Israel will only increase.

    Without a carefully thought-out plan to gradually disengage from the occupied territories, there will likely be a million settlers within a few years. This will amount to a de facto annexation of the West Bank, from which Israel will be unable to extract itself without perpetual violent confrontations with the Palestinians and risking a civil war, should a decision be made to evacuate a substantial number of settlers.

    Ending the occupation is not a charitable gift to the Palestinians. Only by accepting their right to a state of their own will Israel remain a Jewish and democratic state enjoying peace and security, instead of being drawn toward an abyss from which there is no salvation.

    Israel is the only country in the modern era that has maintained, in defiance of the international community, a military occupation for nearly five decades. The Israelis’ complacency about the occupation is adversely affecting Jews all over the world, and as long as the occupation lingers, anti-Semitism will continue to rise.

    What has added potency to the substantial rise in anti-Semitism in recent years is your disregard of the international consensus about the illegality of the settlements, the policy of the continuing occupation, and your disregard of the Palestinians’ suffering and right to self-determination.

    Did you consider what would be the ramifications of what you said during the last election, which I believe reflects your true position, that there would be no Palestinian state under your watch? There will be no peace with the Arab states, Jordan and Egypt (regardless of how they feel toward the Palestinians) may well abrogate their peace treaties with Israel under mounting regional and public pressure, the wrath of the EU will be immeasurable, the US will lose patience (if it hasn’t already) and no longer provide Israel with automatic political cover, and the world will blame Israel for feeding into the region’s instability; much of this is already happening.

    Israel will constantly live in a state of violence and insecurity, but perhaps this is precisely what you want–to spread fear and use scare tactics to foment public anxiety by painting every Palestinian as a terrorist, as if the occupation has nothing to do with Palestinian extremism.

    On foreign policy

    A sound and constructive foreign policy is foreign to you, which is consequently alienating Israel’s allies and bewildering its friends.

    You wantonly discard diplomatic conventions and protocol; you willfully undercut President Obama by addressing a joint session of US Congress, challenging him on the Iran deal only to fail miserably, baffling Democratic and Republican leaders alike.

    You clashed with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro for criticizing Israel’s policy in the West Bank, and condescendingly called for a credible investigation of Palestinian killings, and publicly sparred with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who stated “…it is human nature to react to occupation”.

    You antagonized Secretary of State Kerry, who highlighted “the injustice of settlement building”, prompting various US officials to call you “myopic, entitled, untrustworthy, routinely disrespectful and focused solely on short-term political tactics to keep [your] right-wing constituency in line.”

    As the US and EU are wholly convinced that the settlements represent the main obstacle to peace, you are now not only inviting criticism but forcing both to take measures to awaken the Israelis to the harsh reality of the settlements and your perilous ideology.

    Due to your imprudent policies, Israel has few friends left. Anti-Israel sentiment is on the rise not only in Europe but in the US as well, which provides the last bastion of public support for Israel.

    Starting with the EU’s demand to label settlement products, you remain typically dismissive, shaming the EU and blaming them for applying double standards. You revert to the old narrative of accusing any critics of your policy as being anti-Semitic in order to deflect from your ill-advised actions which are bound to backfire.

    EU members are growing increasingly skeptical that you will ever seek peace based on a two-state solution, and they will more than likely over time become less restrained to impose sanctions. The EU could potentially expand the sanctions on goods manufactured in Israel proper as well and ratchet up its political pressure on Israel to end the oppressive occupation.

    The French government is now preparing to convene an international conference to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because they see no hope that you would enter into serious bilateral negotiations if left to your own devices. Your reaction was as always dismissive, using again the worn-out argument that a solution can be found only through direct negotiation. You offer to resume peace talks unconditionally but then refuse to discuss borders first, and still insist that the Palestinians must first recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

    And here is the irony of it all–while Iran’s President Rouhani received red carpet treatment in Italy and France, you are being cast as a loathsome leader blinded by a defunct ideology decades past its time.

    Israel’s destiny

    Israel’s achievements in science, technology, medicine, agriculture, and many other fields in less than seven decades is nothing short of a miracle. This miracle became a reality due to the incredible resourcefulness, creativity, and dedication of men and women who committed to building a powerful and proud nation that offers a safe haven in perpetuity for the Jews. These unprecedented accomplishments, however, mean little unless Israel can live in peace and all of its citizens can enjoy equality and freedom, which are the pillars on which Israel’s very future rests.

    What is your vision of Israel’s future? Do you know where the country will be in a decade or even less? I challenge you to provide a clear answer. If you truly take to heart Israel’s security and wellbeing, then you must save it from the very self-destructive path that you have paved with fear, anxiety, and bloodshed.

    You must focus on reforming Israel’s dysfunctional political system instead of capitalizing on it to promote your narrow political agenda.

    You must make a supreme effort to bridge the alarming gap between rich and poor, and provide job opportunities for the tens of thousands of young men and women who want financial stability and growth so that they can build a promising future in Israel rather than seek employment abroad.

    You must focus on rebuilding the run-down neighborhoods mostly occupied by Israeli Arabs and Jews of Middle Eastern origin, instead of channeling each year surpluses of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to the settlements.

    You must provide adequate funding for hospitals, and health care to the poor whose social security assistance has cruelly and shamelessly been cut in recent years, especially for Holocaust survivors and others who are forced to choose between feeding their families and paying their electric bills, and who can’t afford to buy lifesaving medicine they desperately need.

    You must allocate more funding for schools that would allow thousands of young men and women to attend colleges, instead of cutting budgets for secular and Christian schools while diverting funds to orthodox students, who enjoy free tuition.

    You must now choose to live with the Palestinians in peace and prosper together, or live by the sword and violently consume one another. You must never forget that Israeli and Palestinian destinies are irreversibly intertwined.

    You must restore Israel’s stature among the community of nations as a true democracy that treats all of its citizens, regardless of sect, ethnicity, or religion, equitably rather than engage in discriminatory policies that will only erode Israel’s standing.

    You must reach out to the international community, strengthen Israel’s alliances, and mitigate differences with its enemies. Remember, Israel will always need the political support of the international community and military and political assistance from the US in particular, not the other way around.

    You must recommit to the moral principles that gave birth to Israel, starting with an honest public narrative based on Israel’s reality on all fronts instead of engaging in a fictional, self-indulgent narrative that distorts the truth the country and its people are facing.

    Having said all this, nothing will make me happier should by some miracle you rise to the historic occasion and heed the call of the hour and answer the plea of the people to end the conflict with the Palestinians, and make Israel proud again for its unsurpassed achievements in all spheres of life.

    You have demonstrated tremendous political and leadership skills to reach the pinnacle you currently enjoy, but sadly, you have chosen misguided policies that undermine Israel’s security and prospects for peace.

    You should use those same qualities to lead the country and realize its destiny as a Jewish, democratic, and secure state on friendly terms with its neighbors. This will not be an aberration; many leaders before you have demonstrated the courage, vision, and capacity to drastically change course that time and circumstances have dictated. You can too if you only will it.

    Yitzhak Rabin, Anwar Sadat, Mikhail Gorbachev, F.W. de Klerk, and many others came to recognize the new realities, and decided to take the risks and change course out of conviction that the country and the people need a revolutionary change of direction and deserve a trusted leadership that will guide them to a better and more promising tomorrow.

    This is the legacy I would want to leave behind if I were you.

    Respectfully yours,

    Alon Ben-Meir

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alon-benmeir/a-plea-for-reason-an-open_b_9299400.html

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Personal
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