Daily Archives: February 8, 2009

Open letter to the President of Israel, by Jean-Moïse Braitberg: *


* Published in Le Monde, Paris on 28 January 2009

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you, to ask you to contact those who are authorized to do so, to remove the name of my grandfather from the memorial at Yad Vashem, which is dedicated to the Jewish victims ofNational Socialism. It says “Moshe Brajtberg, gassed in 1943 in Treblinka.”

The rest of my family also perished in the various of the camps to which they were deported. I beg you. Mr. President, to do this, because that which has happened in Gaza, and in other places, and has defined the fate of the Arab peoples of Palestine for 60 years now, disqualifies – to my mind –Israel to be the center which is dedicated to remember the suffering of the Jews, and by extension, that of all of mankind.

Understand me: ever since I was a child I have lived among survivors of the death camps. I saw the numbers tattooed on their arms and heard the stories of their tortures. I experienced the unbearable mourning and shared the nightmares.

I learned that these crimes shall never again take place, that no person, ever again, shall despise another for his ethnicity or religion, and rob him of his elementary Human Rights, just as he has a right to a life lived in decent circumstances, with the hope of better things for his family.

Still, Mr. President, I have noticed that despite innumerable Resolutions of the international community, despite the obvious injustices to which the Palestinians have been heirs since 1948, despite the hopes of Oslo, and despite the repeated recognition on the part of the Palestinian authorities that Israeli Jews have the right to live in peace and security, the only answer of successive Israeli governments has been brute force, blood shed, incarceration, constant controls, colonization and expropriations.

You will tell me, Mr. President, that it is legitimate for a country to defend itself against rockets aimed at its people, or kamikazis who take many innocents with them in death. To which I will answer that my human sympathies do not ask after the nationality of the victim.

You, on the other hand, lead a nation that means to represent the Jews in their entirety, but also claim to preserve the memory of the victims of National Socialism. That is what touches me and is unbearable to me. While you write the names of my loved ones at Yad Vashem, in the heart of Israel, the state holds the memory of my family prisoner behind the barbed wire of Zionism, in order to make them hostages of a so-called authority which – day after day – practices injustice.

So I beg you to take away the name of my grandfather from the memorial that testifies to the horrors suffered by the Jews, so that it can no longer be used to justify the horror which is visited upon the Palestinians.

Veuillez agréer, monsieur le president, l’assurance de ma respectueuse considération.
____________ _________ _________ _________
* Published in Le Monde, Paris on 28 January 2009

http://www.lemonde. fr/archives/ article/2009/ 01/28/effacez- le-nom-de- mon-grand- pere-a-yad- vashem_1147635_ 0.html

Gaza invasion: Powered by the U.S.

Jan. 16, 2009

Taxpayers are spending over $1 billion to send refined fuel to the Israeli military — at a time when Israel doesn’t need it and America does.

Editor’s note: Generous support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.

By Robert Bryce

News

Salon composite/Wikipedia image

Jan. 16, 2009 | Israel’s current air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip has left about 1,000 Palestinians dead, including 400 women and children. Several thousand people have been wounded and dozens of buildings have been destroyed. An estimated 90,000 Gazans have abandoned their homes. Israel’s campaign in Gaza, which began more than two weeks ago, has been denounced by the Red Cross, multiple Arab and European countries, and agencies from the United Nations. Demonstrations in Pakistan and elsewhere have been held to denounce America’s support for Israel.
It’s well known that the U.S. supplies the Israelis with much of their military hardware. Over the past few decades, the U.S. has provided about $53 billion in military aid to Israel.
What’s not well known is that since 2004, U.S. taxpayers have paid to supply over 500 million gallons of refined oil products — worth about $1.1 billion –- to the Israeli military. While a handful of countries get motor fuel from the U.S., they receive only a fraction of the fuel that Israel does — fuel now being used by Israeli fighter jets, helicopters and tanks to battle Hamas.
According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, between 2004 and 2007 the U.S. Defense Department gave $818 million worth of fuel to the Israeli military. The total amount was 479 million gallons, the equivalent of about 66 gallons per Israeli citizen. In 2008, an additional $280 million in fuel was given to the Israeli military, again at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. The U.S. has even paid the cost of shipping the fuel from U.S. refineries to ports in Israel.
In 2008, the fuel shipped to Israel from U.S. refineries accounted for 2 percent of Israel’s $13.3 billion defense budget. Publicly available data shows that about 2 percent of the U.S. Defense Department’s budget is also spent on oil. A senior analyst at the Pentagon, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, says the Israel Defense Force’s fuel use is most likely similar to that of the U.S. Defense Department. In other words, the Israeli military is spending about the same percentage of its defense budget on oil as the U.S. is. Therefore it’s possible that the U.S. is providing most, or perhaps even all, of the Israeli military’s fuel needs.
What’s more, Israel does not need the U.S. handout. Its own recently privatized refineries, located at Haifa and Ashdod, could supply all of the fuel needed by the Israeli military. Those same refineries are now producing and selling jet fuel and other refined products on the open market. But rather than purchase lower-cost jet fuel from its own refineries, the Israeli military is using U.S. taxpayer money to buy and ship large quantities of fuel from U.S. refineries.
The Israeli government obtains the fuel through the Defense Department’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, and pays for the fuel and the shipping with funds granted to it through Foreign Military Financing (FMF), another Defense Department program. (In 2008, Congress earmarked $2.4 billion in FMF money for Israel, and $2.5 billion for 2009.) The dimensions of the FMS fuel program are virtually unknown among America’s top experts on Middle East policy. For his part, the Pentagon analyst was surprised to learn that FMS money was even being used to supply fuel to Israel. “That’s not the purpose of the program,” he says. “FMS was designed to allow U.S. weapons makers to sell their goods to foreign countries. The idea that fuel is being bought under FMS is very, very odd.”
The fuel program, in fact, raises a number of pressing questions. The shipments have occurred during times of record-high oil prices, when American consumers have been angered by motor fuel prices that in 2008 exceeded $4 per gallon. Given those high prices, it appears to make little sense for the U.S. government to be promoting policies that reduce the volume of — and potentially raise the price of — motor fuel available for sale to U.S. motorists.
The U.S. fuel shipments are part of a sustained policy that has widened the energy gap between Israel and its neighbors. Over the past few years, the Israel Defense Force has cut off fuel supplies and destroyed electricity infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Those embargoes and attacks on power plants have exacerbated a huge gap in per-capita energy consumption between Israelis and Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. And that sharp disparity helps explain why the Palestinians have never been able to build a viable economy.
Edward S. Walker, former president of the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank, says the fuel supply program is emblematic of U.S. military support for Israel. Walker, who has served as U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel, explains that the FMF money allows the Israelis to “do with it what they want. They can buy equipment or fuel. It’s their choice, not the government’s choice. It’s the only program where we give someone a blank check and they can use it any way that they choose.”
Given the recent spike in oil prices, which helped send the U.S. and the world economy into a tailspin, and Americans still smarting from paying $4 at the pump, says Walker, “Why are we supplying fuel to Israel when we are paying such high prices?”

Obama, Mitchell and the Palestinians

By JAMES ABOUREZK

Abe Foxman, head of the “Anti-Defamation League”, claims that George Mitchell is too fair to be a broker betweenIsrael and the Palestinians. I guess that Foxman, in denouncing the choice of Mitchell for Middle East negotiator, shows that he is accustomed to such impartial mediators as Dennis Ross, who, when he left the Clinton Administration returned to the Israeli Lobby, whence he came. Or he possibly could be making a comparison between George Mitchell and Alan Dershowitz, the notorious Israeli propagandist. (I once called Dershowitz a “snake” on Al Manar TV, which prompted him to write a column in the Jerusalem Post calling me an anti-Semite. My mistake was to forget to apologize to the snakes.)
I’m sorry to say that, as much as I admire George Mitchell for the public service he has provided over the years, being fair will not be enough to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the brutality that accompanies it.

The gyrations of various administrations over the years, all of whom have put on great shows of “settling” the conflict, has done nothing but waste a great deal of newspaper ink and television time reporting peace efforts, as though the media believed what snake oil salespeople, such as Condi Rice, were selling to the public. What someone in our government should have realized by now is that Israel absolutely does not want to give up the West Bank for a Palestinian state, even though there are warnings that if a “two state solution” is not reached, the Palestinians will be forced into a state of apartheid for the rest of the century. Certainly, the Israelis have no intention of allowing the Palestinians to outvote them in Israel, which leaves South African style apartheid as the only solution.
One can count all the reasons given by the Israelis for not achieving the “peace” that Israel claims it wants, reasons such as:
    1. We have no negotiating partner.
    2. The Palestinians have to recognize Israel’s right to exist first before we talk to them.
    3. They have to end terrorism first.
    4. We made the Palestinians the best offer they could ever have gotten, but they turned it down.
    These are just some of the shopworn excuses trotted out to avoid cutting a deal.
    It seems that very few people have caught on to this scam, even though it has been exposed for many years. So, as the establishment continues to blather about achieving “peace,” Israel continues to swallow up Palestinian lands, beating up, imprisoning and massacring Palestinians on a daily basis.
    It is very clear to me, as well as to anyone else who declines to see the conflict through an Israeli prism, that only when an American President flatly tells the Israelis that they must move the settlers out of the West Bank, there will be no peace, only more occupation, more brutality, more violations of international law, and more bloody slaughters of civilians such as the one we only recently witnessed in Gaza. Anything short of that leaves the Israelis in complete control, and it will leave America with more and more enemies not only in the Middle East, but around the world.
    President Obama mentioned recently that if he doesn’t get the economy turned around in his first term, he will most likely not have a second term. What he has not yet calculated is that the Israeli occupation results in angry terrorism against American interests all over the world. He is faced with the choice of either angering the Likud Lobby by demanding that the Israeli settlers be kicked out of the West Bank, or of continuing the heavy spending required to maintain Israel’s occupation against the wishes of the people they are occupying. What is your guess as to what he will do?
    Surely we should have learned by now that America can no longer afford to listen to the Abe Foxmans and the Alan Dershowitzes of the world. As a nation, we are out of money, bereft of ideas, and incapable of curbing the moral and financial corruption in Washington, D.C., which includes the corruption brought about by the Likud Lobby.
    The result is that the rich get richer, the poor and the middle class become more and more desperate, searching for jobs that no longer exist, and for homes they can no longer afford.
    The likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have brought the world down around our collective ears, and after having done so, they have ridden off into the sunset, happy in the knowledge that they’ve taken care of their rich friends, who have profited from the wars they have started. The oil price surge, the conflicts in the Middle East, which have brought about the surge in military spending has created fortunes for their cronies, all paid for by the people of this country. We are, unfortunately, not finished paying the price for Mr. Bush’s costly — in terms of human lives and of money — puerile adventures for the past eight years. We will be reaping the hatred and the violence caused by their wars, in addition to suffering the economic fallout resulting from their policies of greed and corruption. And we have not yet counted the kinds of misery and poverty and corruption these two heroes have spawned as a result of the Iraq War.
    The cowardice of our presidents and of our Congress keeps Israel in the driver’s seat so far as continuing the occupation. Brutality is the natural product of an occupation that is necessary to keep the land they’ve stolen from the Palestinians. We are in desperate need of “change,” and we hope and we pray that Mr. Obama will have the courage to put it in motion.
    James G. Abourezk is a lawyer practicing in South Dakota. He is a former United States senator and the author of two books, Advise and Dissent, and a co-author of Through Different Eyes. This article also runs in the current issue of Washington Report For Middle East Affairs. Abourezk can be reached at georgepatton45@gmail.com