Wikileaks leaks toxic acid in every direction, except to Israel

Julian Assange, from Wikileaks, at the SKUP conference for investigative journalism, Norway, March 2010
Julian Assange, from Wikileaks, at the SKUP conference for investigative journalism, Norway, March 2010

Julian Assange, from Wikileaks, at the SKUP conference for investigative journalism, Norway, March 2010

Tariq Shadid, 1 Dec 2010

Let us ponder for a second about the meaning of ‘leaking’. When something is leaking, it is usually understood that some fluid substance that is supposed to be flowing in a certain direction, is escaping from its designed route because of a defect in the structure that was built to guide it. Usually, if you have a leaking pipe in your water system, your main problem is that you are unable to control the flow of it, and water goes into directions where you don’t want it to be going.

However, the definition of ‘Wikileaking’ seems to be following entirely different laws of nature. Indeed, the information is flowing away from the secret pipelines it was originally guided into. However, the strange thing about ‘Wikileaking’ is that Israel, a country widely known for its secret dealings and cunning intelligence service, is managing to keep dry feet in spite of the massive political flooding allegedly caused by Wikileaks’ founding father, Julian Assange.

The lack of control that is so typical of other forms of ‘leaking’, certainly does not seem to apply to ‘Wikileaking’ – instead it looks like it is under perfect control, and carefully guided in such a way that it only serves the interests of one state, namely that of Israel.

Assange takes a leak, the world jumps up

Barely a country in the world that is actively involved in Middle East and other international affairs, either by choice or by geographical location, has been spared by Assange’s latest opening of his Pandora’s box of revelations. It is hard to visit a news source these days, without the word ‘Wikileaks’ jumping into your view at least once, and revealing some scandalous backdoor deal, secret agreement or embarrassing hidden relationship between governments who on the surface seem to be diametrically opposed to each other in the political spectrum.

Since the list of countries that have faced these embarrassments includes Obama’s United States, many anti-imperialist activists around the world have been anxiously awaiting the latest leaks, and are now engaging in discussions about the implications of many of these so-called astounding revelations. Julian Assange is being hailed worldwide by people who are critical of their governments as the activist who was able to embarrass governments, helped only by a small group of independent supporters. His star is rising rapidly, and although sounds of cynicism can be heard here and there, the overwhelming noise resounding in progressive circles is one of loud cheers for this long-awaited ‘champion of the ordinary man’.

What many seem to fail to be noticing however, is that although the list of countries that were painfully embarrassed by the publication of their secret cables, memo’s and meetings, includes the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Egypt and the United States – where Obama is suffering from serious problems from a ‘Tea Party’ he was not invited to – one of the main actors in the dirty political game of Middle East animosities and alliances is remaining completely unharmed: Israel.

Much ado about old news

What are Wikileaks telling us? That Saudi Arabia poured oil on the flames against Iran? We already knew that. That Abbas’ administration as well as the Egyptian government were very well informed about Israel’s genocidal military assault on Gaza in the winter of 2009? There is nothing new about that either. The list goes on and on, and the main victims of embarrassment are leaders of Arab governments. But what is so new about that? Doesn’t almost every Arab in the world who reads newspapers, watches Al Jazeera and has a certain degree of understanding of Middle East politics, already know about the extent and scope of secret relations in the region? Even many people living outside of the Arab world are largely aware of this.

Oana Lungescu, spokeswoman for NATO, called Wikileaks’ revelations about the presence of American nuclear missiles in Europe – mainly the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany – ‘dangerous’ on November 29. Why exactly would something be dangerous, if it is a commonly known fact that has now only been confirmed yet again? Didn’t earlier revelations have no effect, so why would these new ones do that? Does the fact that Obama, Sarkozy, and the Chinese leadership all have condemned Wikileaks and its founder, make any significant difference?

The answer to these questions is: yes, these revelations are indeed causing unpleasant domestic situations all around the world, and creating electoral problems and other political embarrassments for governments everywhere – except in one place, namely Israel.

No worries: Assange will tell you who to trust

Julian Assange, ‘master revealer’ of international conspiracies, apparently also is highly irritated by people questioning the events of 9/11. In an interview in the Belfast Telegraph on July 19, 2010, he was asked about the 9/11 attack, and answered: “I’m constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies such as 9/11, when all around we provide evidence of real conspiracies, for war or mass financial fraud.”

Apparently Julian ‘Robin Hood’ Assange finds the story of pilots who fly an airplane full of people straight into a humongous skyscraper full of unsuspecting citizens, just because some hysterical hijacker is holding a box-cutter against their jugular veins, perfectly believable. He apparently also believes that when you fly an airplane into the top floors of one of the world’s largest buildings, in a horizontal direction, the building will not only spontaneously collapse all the way down to its basement in a vertical direction, but will indeed be transformed into a powdery dust, not leaving behind even one piece of debris that is larger than a ballpoint pen – except of course the completely undamaged passport of one of the alleged hijackers, that was miraculously found among the ruins of the World Trade Center.

Unless you, dear reader, also believe in fairy tales, this should certainly make you wonder. So much for your credibility, mr Assange.

Cui Bono?

In politics there is a golden rule for understanding what may be the driving force behind unexpected mysterious events. This rule is known as ‘Cui Bono’, which is Latin for: ‘who benefits?’

Browse through all the news sources available on the latest Wikileaks revelation, and try to find even only one revelation that actually damages Israel, even though so many of the revealed documents are directly or indirectly connected to Middle East politics, and to a large extent to Israeli affairs. Did you find any document among them that either creates difficulties for the government of the zionist entity, or even slightly embarrasses it? Think about it well, you will find that the answer is a very simple “No”.

Does it not strike you as interesting or remarkable, that many of the revelations about Middle East affairs are of direct benefit to Israel? If it hasn’t, read them again, and give it some thought.

Cui bono? Israel. Therefore, who is the prime suspect behind the phenomenon ‘Julian Assange’? You tell me, or just prove me wrong by showing me one Wikileaks document that would make Binjamin Netanyahu and his rogue companions scratch their heads, or even become only slightly uncomfortable. My suspicion grows stronger every day, and is not deterred by Interpol’s announcement on December 1 that Julian Assange is wanted for an alleged sexual harassment case in Sweden. It is obvious that he is a man who has angered many people of power, regardless of whether he is actually guilty in that harassment case or not. The problem however is that none of these people of power are Israeli, and that says a lot. You never bite the hand that feeds you, do you, Julian?

Tariq Shadid

Tariq Shadid

Tariq Shadid is a Palestinian general surgeon, currently working as the head of department in a hospital in the Middle East. He was born and raised in the Netherlands, and wrote numerous articles of political analysis for the Palestine Chronicle in the first years of the Al Aqsa Intifada, which are now bundled in the book “Understanding Palestine“, available on Amazon. For several years, he was an active board member of the Dutch organization “Stop de Bezetting” (Stop the Occupation) headed by prominent pro-Palestine activist Gretta Duisenberg. For almost five years, he was the official media spokesperson for the board of the Palestinian Community in the Netherlands (PGN), and became a well-known defender of the Palestinian cause in Dutch national media such as television, radio and newspapers. He is also a prolific singer/songwriter and producer of songs for the Palestinian cause, which can be found on his website at http://www.docjazz.com.

His Father’s Boy

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery, 9 Oct 2010

WHICH IS the real Netanyahu?

- Bibi the weakling, the invertebrate, who always gives in to pressure, who zigzags to the left and to the right, depending whether the pressure comes from the US or from his coalition partners?

- The tricky Likud chief, who is afraid that Avigdor Ivett Lieberman might succeed in pushing him towards the Center and displace him as the leader of the entire Right?

- Netanyahu, the man of principle, who is determined to prevent at any cost the setting up of the State of Palestine, and is therefore using every possible ruse to sabotage real negotiations?

The real Netanyahu – stand up!

Hey, wait a minute, what’s going on here? Do I see all three of them rising?

THE FIRST Netanyahu is the one who meets the eye. A leaf in the wind. The con man without principles and with plenty of tricks, whose sole aim is to survive in power.

This Netanyahu practically invites pressure on himself.

Barack Obama pressured him, so he agreed to the settlement freeze – or the perceived settlement freeze. In order to avoid a crisis with the settlers, he promised them that after the agreed ten months, the construction boom would be resumed with full vigor.

The settlers pressured him, and he did indeed resume the building at the appointed time, in spite of the intense pressure from Obama, who pushed for an extension of the moratorium for another two months. Why two months? Because the congressional elections take place on November 2, and Obama desperately needs to avoid a crisis with the Jewish establishment before that. For this end, he is ready to sell Netanyahu the whole inventory – arms, money, political support, a set of guarantees about the outcome of the negotiations that have not yet even begun. Sixty days! sixty days! my kingdom for sixty days!

Netanyahu is now zigzagging between these pressures, trying to find out which is the stronger, which one to give in to, how much and when. In his dreams he probably feels like the Baron von Munchhausen, who found himself on a narrow path, with a lion behind him getting ready to spring and a crocodile in front of him opening its awesome jaws. (If I remember right, the baron ducked and the lion jumped straight into the jaws of the reptile.)

This is the great hope of Netanyahu. AIPAC will help to deliver Obama a crushing defeat in the elections, Obama will deliver a crushing blow to the settlers, and Baron von Netanyahu will rub his hands and survive to fight another day.

Is this the real Netanyahu? For sure.

BUT THE second Netanyahu is no less real. This is Tricky Bibi who is trying to out-fox Tricky Ivett.

Lieberman astounded the UN General Assembly, when, as the Foreign Minister of Israel, he addressed this august body from the rostrum.

Because our Foreign Minister did not rise to defend the policies of his country, as did his colorless colleagues. Quite the opposite: from the UN rostrum he vigorously attacked the policy of his own government, giving it short shrift.

The official policy of the Government of Israel is to conduct direct negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, in order to achieve a final peace treaty within one year.

Nonsense, said the Foreign Minister of that same government. Rubbish. There is no chance at all of a peace treaty, not within a year and not within a hundred years. What’s needed is a Long-Term-Interim-Agreement. In other words, the continuation of the occupation without time limits.

Why did Lieberman give this performance? He was not addressing the few delegates who had remained in the UN assembly hall, but the Israeli public. He challenged Netanyahu: either dismiss me or pretend that the spittle on your face is rain.

But Netanyahu did not dismiss and did not react, except for a weak statement that Lieberman was not expressing his views. And this why? Clearly, if Netanyahu were to kick Lieberman’s party out of the government and bring in Tzipi Livni’s Kadima Party, Lieberman would do to Netanyahu what Netanyahu did to Yitzhak Rabin. He would declare him a traitor selling out the fatherland, an enemy of the settlements. His devotees would parade around with posters of Netanyahu in SS uniform or wearing a keffiyeh, while others performed arcane Kabbalah rituals to bring about his death.

Lieberman would raise the flag of the Right, split the Likud and take sole possession of the entire Israeli Right. He believes that this is the way to become Prime Minister.

Netanyahu understands this perfectly. That’s why he is restraining himself. As a man who grew up in the United States he probably remembers what Lyndon Johnson said about J. Edgar Hoover: Better to have him inside the tent pissing out, then outside the tent pissing in.

AND PERHAPS this Netanyahu – the second one – does not really object to the plan outlined by Lieberman at the UN assembly.

The Foreign Minister was not content with rejecting peace and bringing up the idea of the Long-Term-Interim-Agreement. He described the solution he has in mind. Not surprisingly, it is the electoral platform of his party, Israel Beytenu (“Israel Our Home”). In essence: Israel, the “Nation-State-Of-The-Jewish-People”, will be free of Arabs, or, translated into German, Araberrein.

But Lieberman is a humane person, and does not advocate (at least in public) ethnic cleansing. He does not propose a third Naqbah (after the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe and the 1967 expulsion). No, his solution is far more creative: he will separate from Israel the Arab towns and villages along the Eastern border, the so-called “triangle”, from Umm al-Fahm in the North to Kufr Kassem in the South This area, together with its inhabitants and lands, would be joined to the territory of the Palestinian Authority, and in return Israel would annex the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

That raises, of course, several questions. First, what about the Arab concentrations in Galilee, which include dozens of villages, towns like Nazareth and Shefa Amr, and the Arab population in the mixed towns, Haifa and Acre? Lieberman does not propose to transfer them too. Neither does he propose to give up East Jerusalem, with its quarter of a million Arab residents. If that is the case, is he prepared to leave in the “Nation-State-Of-The-Jewish-People” more than three quarters of a million Arabs? Or does he dream at night, lying in his bed, of conducting ethnic cleansing after all?

A second question: to whom will he transfer the Arab towns and villages of the ‘triangle”? Without a peace treaty, there will be no Palestinian state. Instead, there will remain the Palestinian Authority, with its few small enclaves all subject to Israeli occupation. The Long-Term-Interim-Agreement would leave this situation, more or less, intact. Meaning that this area, now part of Israel, would become a territory under Israeli occupation. Its inhabitants would lose their status as Israeli citizens and become an occupied population, devoid of civil rights and human rights.

As far as is known, not a singe Arab leader in Israel agrees to that. Even in the past, when it seemed that Lieberman agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and wanted to transfer to it the Arab areas of Israel, not a single Arab leader in Israel agreed. The Arab citizens of Israel, a population approaching a million and a half, are indeed a part of the Palestinian people, but they are also a part of the Israeli population.

Netanyahu is certainly afraid of Lieberman, but can it be that he did not condemn Lieberman’s UN speech because he secretly shares his views?

In any case, this week Netanyahu announced that he is adopting Lieberman’s baby, the demand that non-Jewish (meaning Arab) people who wish to obtain Israeli citizenship swear allegiance not just to the State of Israel and its laws, as is usual, but to “Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”. This is a nonsensical and meaningless addition, solely devised to provoke the 20% of Israelis who are Arabs. One might as well demand candidates for US citizenship swear allegiance to the “United States as a White Anglo-Saxon Christian and democratic nation”.

BUT IT is quite possible that there is a third Netanyahu, who stands taller than the others.

This is the Netanyahu who always believed in a Greater Israel, and who has never given up the ideology which he suckled with his mother’s milk.

The veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Samet goes further: he believes that Binyamin Netanyahu’s main motivation is his total obedience to his old father.

Ben-Zion Netanyahu is now 100 years old, and in full possession of his mental faculties. He is a professor of history, born in Warsaw, who came to Palestine in 1920 and changed his name from Mileikowsky to Netanyahu (“God has Given”). He has always been on the extreme right-wing fringe. Ben-Zion Netanyahu spent several periods of his life in the US, where his three sons grew up. When in 1947 the UN General Assembly adopted the plan to partition Palestine between a Jewish state and an Arab state, father Netanyahu signed a petition, published in the New York Times, condemning the resolution in the strongest terms. Returning to Israel, he was not accepted into the new Freedom Party (the forerunner of Likud), because his views were too extreme even for Menachem Begin’s tastes. He claims that he was barred from a professorship in the Hebrew University because of his opinions, and his bitterness about this poisoned the atmosphere at home.

The professor’s special field is Spanish Jewry, with the emphasis on the Spanish Inquisition. He condemns the Jews who were baptized (the Marranos) and says that the great majority of them were eager to be assimilated into Christian Spanish society, contrary to the official heroic myth, which says that they continued to practice the religion of their forefathers in secret.

When Netanyahu the son transferred a part of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority, his father rebuked him and stated publicly that he was unfit for the job of Prime Minister, fit at most to serve as Foreign Secretary. But the son made a huge effort to remain true to his father’s views, and that is the main motivation for his policy. According to Samet, he would not dare to face his father and tell him that he had given away parts of Eretz Israel.

I tend to accept this version. Netanyahu will never agree to be responsible for the establishment of the State of Palestine, will never conduct serious peace negotiations – unless under extreme duress. That is all there is to it, everything else is hollow talk.

If the real Netanyahu were called to stand up, all three, and perhaps a few more, would rise. But the third one is the most real.

permlink: http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1286625396

The Occupation is Corrupt – Olmert and the Jackals

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery, 12 August 2010

I cannot say that I ever liked Ehud Olmert. But now I almost feel sorry for him.

It is not pleasant to see how they pounce on him, like jackals and hyenas fighting over a carcass.

And that also raises some questions.

Was Olmert the only fallible human being in this paradise? Not at all. The stories about the envelopes stuffed with cash, the cigars and the luxury suites in posh hotels fire the imagination, but the hedonism of Olmert is no different from that of Binjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. When Barak accuses Olmert it is like the kettle calling the pot black.

Netanyahu lived like a king in expensive hotels paid for by kind donors who, of course, ask for nothing in return, whose sole purpose in life is to allow him to revel in luxury. As for Barak – after decades of service as an army officer with a salary that did not reach the sky and some years as a cabinet minister with a similar income, he disappeared from public view for a short while and reappeared as a rich man. He bought a luxury apartment in one of the most expensive buildings in Tel Aviv, a structure that is a byword for ostentatious wealth. How does one get so rich in such a short time? Could it be by using connections acquired in the service of the state?

Olmert was a pioneer of this method. When still a very junior politician, just out of law school, he got rich through his connections with the heads of government departments which he made as a parliamentary aide.

The closer the connection between capital and power, and the more contact there is between local and foreign tycoons on the one hand and politicians and generals on the other, the more profusely corruption flowers. This is an almost automatic process.

What does that say about our politicians? Simply: that none of them is a leader.

A real leader is not just a person with an aim. A leader is a person with one aim and one aim alone.

In the best case, that is a positive aim, to which he devotes all his life. In the worst case it is power as such he craves. But in any case, a real leader is totally devoted to the aim he has adopted, and pursues no other – not money, not enjoyment, not a life of luxury.

Such a person was David Ben-Gurion, and such was Menachem Begin. They did not have to decide to live “modest lives” and dispense with luxury – they were just not interested in luxuries, money or the easy life. For them, these things were quite unimportant. From the moment they opened their eyes in the morning until they closed them again at night, nothing interested them but their aim. One can add Yitzhak Rabin to the list.

The priorities of a mere politician are quite different: he wants power in order to enjoy the amenities it brings with it. Power as a means. The amenities of power – money, luxuries, high-class restaurants, prestigious hotels – are the aim.

According to this definition, the entire recent and current crop of politicians – Moshe Dayan, Ezer Weitzman, Shimon Peres, the two Ehuds and Netanyahu – are all just ordinary politicians.

With Olmert the problem is specially severe, because of his personal background.

People ask themselves: What did he need it for? Did he not foresee that in the end everything would become public, that his friends and admirers would abandon him? Was it worthwhile to risk his whole future for a vacation in Italy, expensive cigars, luxury suites in hotels and upgrading his flights?

The conditions in which he lived as a child probably had something to do with his behavior as an adult. He grew up in the 50s in a neighborhood set up by the Herut party for ex-Irgun members in the village of Binyamina near Haifa. It was a poor neighborhood, and the children of the old-established village, which belonged to the political mainstream, looked down upon its inhabitants. Children can be cruel. In those days the Herut Party (today’s Likud) was far from power and the national consensus, their members were still considered “outsiders” who did not belong.

When a person with such a background ascends the political ladder, the possibilities that open up before him are liable to intoxicate him. A world of pampering and pandering is there for the taking. And when an American “exile Jew” – an utterly contemptuous term for Jews abroad – a professional schnorrer, who considers it a great honor to support him, comes and offers him all the goodies, the temptation is just too great.

There is a special angle to the Olmert story. Perhaps because of his childhood feeling of not belonging, he desperately craves Haverim. “Haver” is a typical Hebrew word denoting comrade, friend, pal, army buddy. (Bill Clinton famously ended his eulogy for RabIn with the Hebrew words “Shalom, Haver!”) Olmert needs many Haverim, Haverim all the time. Haverim who adore him, especially intellectuals and/or rich people, who admire and love him.

He loves to pamper his friends, to take them with him whenever he goes on journeys and vacations. He showers them with warmth and charm, slaps their shoulders, devotes time and attention to them. For him that was also of the attractions of power.

One of these friends, the lawyer Uri Messer, is mortified. Not because Messer broke the law. Not because he violated the norms of morality and democracy. But because Messer “ratted” on Olmert to the police. (Messer himself used the word “stinker”, the Israeli equivalent of informer.) Like a schoolboy: one does not squeal to the teacher. He tortures himself. As Messer himself says, he is not a “psycho” but a self-tortured man who betrayed a Haver.

Another angle to the matter: the relationship between Olmert and Morris Talansky, who supplied him for many years with the stuffed envelopes.

Talansky treated him as a slave treats his master. After some time, Olmert started to treat him as a servant. I almost said: as a colonial master treats an inferior native.

This is not unusual. Many Israelis treat the Jews of the Diaspora as if they were colonial subjects, who are obligated to serve and support the aristocrats of the “mother” country. Thinking and speaking about the American Jews, they inadvertently repeat anti-Semitic stereotypes. Talansky suits this stereotype perfectly. Olmert saw him like this, and that is how he saw himself. When Olmert came to America and honored him with his presence before his Jewish neighbors and acquaintances, it raised his status, and for this he was prepared to pay – and pay a lot.

A question presents itself: Why do these fatal scandals always break when a leader takes a step towards peace, or at least pretends to take a step towards peace?

I do not believe that there is a conspiracy. In general I don’t tend to believe in conspiracies, though there are these, too.

But we have here, I believe, a more profound phenomenon. The main thrust of the current establishment is towards occupation, expansion and war. Therefore, when a corruption scandal concerns a leader moving in that direction, the scandal is smothered in its infancy. But when the scandal involves a leader who is making gestures in the direction of peace, the scandal reaches huge proportions.

That happened to Sharon on the eve of the dismantling of the Gaza Strip settlements. It is happening now to Olmert when he dares to speak about peace with Syria and the evacuation of the Golan settlements.

Lord action is famous for his dictum: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the same vein, we say that occupation corrupts, and total occupation corrupts totally.

Ehud Olmert is the typical product of the cynicism and lawlessness that have infected this country in the 41 years of occupation.

That does not mean that there was no corruption before. There certainly was.

In my view, the corruption was born together with the state, and not by accident. A lot has been said about the Naqba on the occasion of Israel’s 60th anniversary. But one phenomenon that accompanied the Naqba is consistently ignored: the massive theft of abandoned Arab property.

In the course of the 1948 flight and expulsion, some 100 to 150 thousand Arab families abandoned their homes. Many of them lived in simple dwellings, but not a few were living in elegant houses in Jaffa, Jerusalem and Haifa. What happened to the interior of these homes? To the tens of thousands of expensive carpets, fauteuils, refrigerators, wardrobes, pianos? Where did the inventories of shops and stores go?

They disappeared.

Some of them did reach government storerooms and were distributed to new immigrants. I have never seen a report on this. The huge majority were just stolen.

Generally, not by the combat soldiers who captured these places. They fought and moved on. But after them came the rear echelon, the transport and quartermaster troops, the cronies of people in power, who came with lorries and trucks and loaded up everything they came across.

That was no secret. We knew and talked about this at the time. For years one could see the sofas and armchairs covered with velvet draping in private living rooms and offices. But the phenomenon was never investigated, and later on was smothered and suppressed.

I have spoken about this several times in the Knesset. I mentioned the Biblical story of Achan, the son of Carmi, who during the conquest of Jericho violated God’s command not to plunder. As punishment, the Israelites were routed at the next battle. “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.” (Joshua 7:11) Joshua executed Achan and his whole family by stoning. He was for genocide of the Canaanites but against plundering.

The theft in broad daylight of the property abandoned by individuals already violated the ethos that was accepted before the foundation of the state.  The denial and suppression made it worse. But the large-scale corruption, whose bitter fruit we see now in all its ugliness, started indeed with the occupation in 1967.

The occupation is corrupt, and it corrupts by its very nature. It denies all human rights, including the right to property. It fills the occupied territories with an atmosphere of general lawlessness. It enriches the occupier and everybody connected with him. It creates a climate of wanton cynicism, an environment of “anything goes”. Such an atmosphere does not stop at the Green Line. It permeates the state of the conqueror.

That’s where the rot set in.

- Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist and writer.