By Robert Fisk
Banality and barefaced lies
Sat Dec 23, 2006 23:30

 
Banality and barefaced lies

Here in America, I stare at the land in which I live and see a landscape I do not recognise

By Robert Fisk
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15982.htm

12/23/06 "The Independent" -- -- I call it the Alice in Wonderland effect. Each time I tour the United States, I stare through the looking glass at the faraway region in which I live and work for The Independent - the Middle East - and see a landscape which I do no recognise, a distant tragedy turned, here in America, into a farce of hypocrisy and banality and barefaced lies. Am I the Cheshire Cat? Or the Mad Hatter?

I picked up Jimmy Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid at San Francisco airport, and zipped through it in a day. It's a good, strong read by the only American president approaching sainthood. Carter lists the outrageous treatment meted out to the Palestinians, the Israeli occupation, the dispossession of Palestinian land by Israel, the brutality visited upon this denuded, subject population, and what he calls "a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights".

Carter quotes an Israeli as saying he is "afraid that we are moving towards a government like that of South Africa, with a dual society of Jewish rulers and Arabs subjects with few rights of citizenship...". A proposed but unacceptable modification of this choice, Carter adds, "is the taking of substantial portions of the occupied territory, with the remaining Palestinians completely surrounded by walls, fences, and Israeli checkpoints, living as prisoners within the small portion of land left to them".

Needless to say, the American press and television largely ignored the appearance of this eminently sensible book - until the usual Israeli lobbyists began to scream abuse at poor old Jimmy Carter, albeit that he was the architect of the longest lasting peace treaty between Israel and an Arab neighbour - Egypt - secured with the famous 1978 Camp David accords. The New York Times ("All the News That's Fit to Print", ho! ho!) then felt free to tell its readers that Carter had stirred "furore among Jews" with his use of the word "apartheid". The ex-president replied by mildly (and rightly) pointing out that Israeli lobbyists had produced among US editorial boards a "reluctance to criticise the Israeli government".

Typical of the dirt thrown at Carter was the comment by Michael Kinsley in The New York Times (of course) that Carter "is comparing Israel to the former white racist government of South Africa". This was followed by a vicious statement from Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who said that the reason Carter gave for writing this book "is this shameless, shameful canard that the Jews control the debate in this country, especially when it comes to the media. What makes this serious is that he's not just another pundit, and he's not just another analyst. He is a former president of the United States".

But well, yes, that's the point, isn't it? This is no tract by a Harvard professor on the power of the lobby. It's an honourable, honest account by a friend of Israel as well as the Arabs who just happens to be a fine American ex-statesman. Which is why Carter's book is now a best-seller - and applause here, by the way, for the great American public that bought the book instead of believing Mr Foxman.

But in this context, why, I wonder, didn't The New York Times and the other gutless mainstream newspapers in the United States mention Israel's cosy relationship with that very racist apartheid regime in South Africa which Carter is not supposed to mention in his book? Didn't Israel have a wealthy diamond trade with sanctioned, racist South Africa? Didn't Israel have a fruitful and deep military relationship with that racist regime? Am I dreaming, looking-glass-like, when I recall that in April of 1976, Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa - one of the architects of this vile Nazi-like system of apartheid - paid a state visit to Israel and was honoured with an official reception from Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, war hero Moshe Dayan and future Nobel prize-winner Yitzhak Rabin? This of course, certainly did not become part of the great American debate on Carter's book.

At Detroit airport, I picked up an even slimmer volume, the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report - which doesn't really study Iraq at all but offers a few bleak ways in which George Bush can run away from this disaster without too much blood on his shirt. After chatting to the Iraqis in the green zone of Baghdad - dream zone would be a more accurate title - there are a few worthy suggestions (already predictably rejected by the Israelis): a resumption of serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, an Israeli withdrawal from Golan, etc. But it's written in the same tired semantics of right-wing think tanks - the language, in fact, of the discredited Brookings Institution and of my old mate, the messianic New York Times columnist Tom Friedman - full of "porous" borders and admonitions that "time is running out".

The clue to all this nonsense, I discovered, comes at the back of the report where it lists the "experts" consulted by Messrs Baker, Hamilton and the rest. Many of them are pillars of the Brookings Institution and there is Thomas Freedman of The New York Times.

But for sheer folly, it was impossible to beat the post-Baker debate among the great and the good who dragged the United States into this catastrophe. General Peter Pace, the extremely odd chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said of the American war in Iraq that "we are not winning, but we are not losing". Bush's new defence secretary, Robert Gates, announced that he "agreed with General Pace that we are not winning, but we are not losing". Baker himself jumped into the same nonsense pool by asserting: "I don't think you can say we're losing. By the same token (sic), I'm not sure we're winning." At which point, Bush proclaimed this week that - yes - "we're not winning, we're not losing". Pity about the Iraqis.

I pondered this madness during a bout of severe turbulence at 37,000 feet over Colorado. And that's when it hit me, the whole final score in this unique round of the Iraq war between the United States of America and the forces of evil. It's a draw!

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited
==============================================

Impending Police State in America
Interview with Professor Francis Boyle

Francis A Boyle says 9/11 was allowed to happen, war on terror is facilitating the downfall of The Republic, concentration camps are in place and US citizens are the targets .
http://tinyurl.com/ye4azl

===
Iraq: At least 13 killed in another bloody day of U.S. occupation:

Clashes between Iraqi security forces and a powerful Shi'ite militia left five people, including four policemen, dead and wounded 17 others in Samawa, police sources said.
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/KHA336533.htm

===
US air strike kills five:

Two women and a 4-year-old child were reportedly among the dead.
http://www.itv.com/news/world_891c963953102d5f6de3e60490358896.html

===
U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq :

Three U.S. Marines and one sailor were killed in Iraq's overwhelmingly Sunni Islamic Anbar Province Saturday, the U.S. military said.
http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20061223-073717-4243r

===
U.S. commanders in Iraq push troop increase:

Top U.S. military commanders in Iraq have decided to recommend an increase in the number of U.S. occupation forces there, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday, citing a defense official familiar with the plan.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2748024

===
Troop Levels Unknown: -

Despite all the talk about just what kind of troop levels the U.S. should maintain, it's not clear anyone knows the size of the Iraqi force, Rep. Christopher Shays said today in his report to the White House and Pentagon on findings from his trip to Iraq.
http://tinyurl.com/y35s7o

===
Iraqi Shiites seize Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad:

As the United States debates what to do in Iraq, this country's Shiite majority is already moving toward its own solution
http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/22/news/shiites.php

===
Shiite Cleric Won't Support Coalition :

Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric withheld support Saturday for a U.S.-backed plan to build a coalition across sectarian lines, Shiite lawmakers said, jeopardizing hopes that such a show of political unity could help stem the country's deadly violence.
http://tinyurl.com/yzt5ye

===
Archbishop attacks US, Britain on Iraq:

THE spiritual head of the Anglican Church launched an outspoken attack on the British and US governments on Saturday, saying their "ignorant" policy in Iraq has put Christians in the region at risk.
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,20970722-38200,00.html

===
U.S. to maintain long presence in Gulf region: Gates:

An increased U.S. naval presence in the Gulf is not a response to any action by Iran but a message to all countries that the United States will keep its regional footprint "for a long time", Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday.
http://tinyurl.com/y9r2hc

===
Will Iraq's Oil Blessing Become a Curse?:

The Iraqi government is considering a new oil law that could give private oil companies greater control over its vast reserves. In light of rampant violence and shaky democratic institutions, many fear the law is being pushed through hastily by special interests behind closed doors.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,456212,00.html

===
UN Imposes Sanctions on Iran's Nuclear Program:

The United Nations Security Council voted 15 to 0 to impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program for the first time, including a ban on acquisition of materials and technology that might be used to build an atomic bomb.
http://tinyurl.com/ycfk5f

===
Iran calls UN Resolution 'invalid' and 'illegal,':

The statement read on state-run television said Iran won't heed the "Invalid" Decision by the United Nations Security Council and will continue pursue its enrichment activities.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3343594,00.html

===
Iran warns U.N. to expect reaction over sanctions:

Haddadadel said if the pressure mounts on Iran, parliament will have to discuss a plan, approved by the parliament's national security committee, that wants a serious reconsideration in Iran's relation with the IAEA.
http://tinyurl.com/yml59a

===
US wants more sanctions on Iran:

The United States wants the international community to take more action against Iran, and impose more sanctions than those adopted by the UN Security Council, the State Department's number three diplomat said.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20061223/pl_afp/irannuclearpoliticsun_061223200647

===
Israel praises U.N. Security Council decision to impose sanctions on Iran:

Israel on Saturday praised the U.N. Security Council's decision to impose sanction on Iran, saying it's an important step toward preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/12/23/africa/ME_GEN_Israel_Iran.php

===
Abbas rejects temporary truce with Israel:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected the idea of a Palestinian state with temporary borders in return for long-term truce with Israel.
http://www.kuna.net.kw/Home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=936942

===
Hamas views Abbas-Olmert meeting as insignificant:

The Palestinian Islamic group Hamas on Saturday played down significance of a meeting that grouped Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem today.
http://www.kuna.net.kw/Home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=937001

===
'What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today?' :

Johann Hari on the plight of pregnant women in the West Bank, where babies are dying needlessly
http://news.independent.co.uk/appeals/indy_appeal/article2097790.ece

===
Islamic Courts seek to "expand war" :

A Somali Islamic Courts defence chief has for the first time called on foreign Muslim fighters to join his movement's war against Ethiopia.
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/AE1E58BD-5FA8-41FE-8A3C-6AEF40B5BAF7.htm

===
The Horn of Africa teeters on the cusp of all-out war:

Neighbours arethreatening to turn Somalia into a battleground for their old scores
http://www.thestar.com/News/article/164704

===
U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa may aid al-Qaida, experts warn:

As fighting intensified Friday between Somali Islamists and an Ethiopian intervention force, Western diplomats and experts warned that U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa - intended to curb Islamic radicalism - may not only be fueling this newest conflict, but also may be making it easier for al-Qaida to gain a foothold in the strategic region.
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/world/16301743.htm

===
FBI Warns Of UK Attack:

BRITISH anti-terror agents reckon it will be "a miracle" if "al-Qaeda" do not launch an attack in the UK during the Christmas break, US sources claimed yesterday.
http://tinyurl.com/ydh8ja

===
Gazprom of Russia to double natural gas prices for Georgia:

Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, agreed Friday to continue supplying natural gas to Georgia, but at double the price, the latest increase for a pro-Western nation on Russia's border.
http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/22/business/gazprom.php

===
At least nine killed in Haitian slum raid:

It was one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the chaotic Caribbean country in more than a year and came hours after the U.N. chief envoy to Haiti, Edmond Mulet, said the government had given the go-ahead for a crackdown on areas controlled by gangs.
http://tinyurl.com/ylfsgj

===
Bolivian groups seek extradition of former president:

In Bolivia, a coalition of social movements has formed a committee, Comité Impulsor, to work towards the extradition of former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who is living in the United States
http://www.workers.org/2006/world/bolivia-extradition-1228/

===
Ros-Lehtinen admits kill-Castro remark:

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen admitted on Friday, through a spokesman, that she did call for the death of ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro during an interview with a British documentary-maker whom she had earlier accused of altering the video.
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/16302798.htm

===
'Che' Guevara CD Case Pulled From Shelves:

Target Corp said on Friday it had pulled a CD carrying case bearing Ernesto "Che" Guevara's image after an outcry by critics who label the Marxist revolutionary a murderer and totalitarian symbol.
http://tinyurl.com/yale7f

===
Radio, TV Martí to be aired locally:

Taxpayer-funded TV and Radio Martí are spending $377,500 to air select programs on South Florida broadcast stations over the next six months, using loopholes in a law that prohibits the propaganda channels from distribution within the United States.
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/16270804.htm

===
Religion does more harm than good - poll:

82% say faith causes tension in country where two thirds are not religious
http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1978045,00.html

===
The Muslim prophet born in Bethlehem:

The story of Jesus held a special place within early Islam. There is no need for a clash of civilisations
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1977918,00.html

===
Anti war song: MP3 : Who Would Jesus Bomb -

John Duggleby and Lance Brown. Would he snuff out the kids or just take out dad and mom?
http://www.lancestunes.com/Media/duggleby_jesus_bomb.mp3

===
Homeland Security Admits TSA Broke Rules: -

Officials at Homeland Security admit they broke the law. Department officials say they didn't follow the Privacy Act two years ago when they obta

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