December 07, 2010 --- Washingtons
pathetic capitulation to Israel while pleading
for a meaningless three-month freeze on
settlement expansionexcluding Arab East
Jerusalemshould go down as one of the most
humiliating moments in U.S. diplomatic history.
In September the last settlement freeze ended,
leading the Palestinians to cease direct talks
with Israel. Now the Obama administration,
desperate to lure Israel into a new freeze and
thus revive the talks, is grasping at invisible
strawsand lavishing gifts on a far-right
The gifts include $3 billion for fighter jets.
The largesse also happens to be another taxpayer
grant to the U.S. arms industry, which gains
doubly from programs to expand the militarization
of the Middle East.
U.S. arms manufacturers are subsidized not only
to develop and produce advanced equipment for a
state that is virtually part of the U.S. military-intelligence
establishment but also to provide second-rate
military equipment to the Gulf
statescurrently a precedent-breaking $60
billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, which is a
transaction that also recycles petrodollars to an
ailing U.S. economy.
Israeli and U.S. high-tech civilian industries
are closely integrated. It is small wonder that
the most fervent support for Israeli actions
comes from the business press and the Republican
Party, the more extreme of the two business-oriented
political parties. The pretext for the huge arms
sales to Saudi Arabia is defense against the
However, the Iranian threat is not military, as
the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence have
emphasized. Were Iran to develop a nuclear
weapons capacity, the purpose would be
deterrentpresumably to ward off a U.S.-Israeli
The real threat, in Washingtons view, is
that Iran is seeking to expand its influence in
neighboring countries stabilized by U.S.
invasion and occupation.
The official line is that the Arab states are
pleading for U.S. military aid to defend
themselves against Iran. True or false, the claim
provides interesting insight into the reigning
concept of democracy. Whatever the ruling
dictatorships may prefer, Arabs in a recent
Brookings poll rank the major threats to the
region as Israel (88 percent), the United States
(77 percent) and Iran (10 percent).
It is interesting that U.S. officials, as
revealed in the just-released WikiLeaks cables,
totally ignored Arab public opinion, keeping to
the views of the reigning dictators.
The U.S. gifts to Israel also include diplomatic
support, according to current reports. Washington
pledges to veto any U.N. Security Council actions
that might annoy Israels leaders and to
drop any call for further extension of a
Hence, by agreeing to the three-month pause,
Israel will no longer be disturbed by the
paymaster as it expands its criminal actions in
the occupied territories.
That these actions are criminal has not been in
doubt since late 1967, when Israels leading
legal authority, international jurist Theodor
Meron, advised the government that its plans to
initiate settlements in the occupied territories
violated the Fourth Geneva Convention, a core
principle of international humanitarian law,
established in 1949 to criminalize the horrors of
the Nazi regime.
Merons conclusion was endorsed by Justice
Minister Yaakov Shimson Shapira, and
shortly after by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan,
writes historian Gershom Gorenberg in The
Dayan informed his fellow ministers, We
must consolidate our hold so that over time we
will succeed in `digesting Judea and
Samaria (the West Bank) and merging them with `little
Israel, meanwhile dismember(ing) the
territorial contiguity of the West Bank,
all under the usual pretense that the step
is necessary for military purposes.
Dayan had no doubts, or qualms, about what he was
recommending: Settling Israelis in occupied
territory contravenes, as is known, international
conventions, he observed. But there
is nothing essentially new in that.
Dayans correct assumption was that the boss
in Washington might object formally, but with a
wink, and would continue to provide the decisive
military, economic and diplomatic support for the
The criminality has been underscored by repeated
Security Council resolutions, more recently by
the International Court of Justice, with the
basic agreement of U.S. Justice Thomas
Buergenthal in a separate declaration.
Israels actions also violate U.N. Security
Council resolutions concerning Jerusalem. But
everything is fine as long as Washington winks.
Back in Washington, the Republican super-hawks
are even more fervent in their support for
Israeli crimes. Eric Cantor, the new majority
leader in the House of Representatives, has
floated a novel solution to protect aid for
Israel from the current foreign aid backlash,
Glenn Kessler reports in The Washington Post:
giving the Jewish state its own funding
account, thus removing it from funds for the rest
of the world.
The issue of settlement expansion is simply a
diversion. The real issue is the existence of the
settlements and related infrastructure
developments. These have been carefully designed
so that Israel has already taken over more than
40 percent of the occupied West Bank, including
suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; the arable
land; and the primary water sources of the region,
all on the Israeli side of the Separation
Wallin reality an annexation wall.
Since 1967, Israel has vastly expanded the
borders of Jerusalem in violation of Security
Council orders and despite universal
international objection (including the U.S., at
The focus on settlement expansion, and
Washingtons groveling, are not the only
farcical elements of the current negotiations.
The very structure is a charade. The U.S. is
portrayed as an honest broker seeking
to mediate between two recalcitrant adversaries.
But serious negotiations would be conducted by
some neutral party, with the U.S. and Israel on
one side, and the world on the other.
It is hardly a secret that for 35 years the U.S.
and Israel have stood virtually alone in
opposition to a consensus on a political
settlement that is close to universal, including
the Arab states, the Organization of the Islamic
Conference (including Iran), and all other
Disaster in the North of Israel, at least 40
dead as fire rages across the Carmel Mountains. A
mass evacuation has begun.
As I am writing these lines, Israeli Fire
fighting crews are battling with the flames. They
also express no hope of controlling the fire soon.
"We lost all control of the fire," said
the Haifa Fire fighting services spokesman.
"There aren't enough fire fighting resources
in Israel in order to put out the fire."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hurried to
the scene of the fire on Thursday. He requested
the help of the U.S, Greece, Italy, Russia, and
Cyprus to send additional forces to aid the
Israeli firemen. A normal country would probably
ask for the help of its neighbours, but the
Jewish state doesnt have neighbours. It
made all its neighbours into enemies.
But the story here goes far deeper. The
fire in northern Israel is far from being a
coincidence. Israels rural landscape is
saturated with pine trees. These trees are
totally new to the region. They were not there
until the 1930s. The pine trees were
introduced to the Palestinians landscape in
the early 1930s by the Jewish National Fund
(JNF) in an attempt to reclaim the
land . By 1935, JNF had planted 1.7 million
trees over a total area of 1,750 acres. Over
fifty years, the JNF planted over 260 million
trees largely on confiscated Palestinian land. It
did it all in a desperate attempt to hide the
ruins of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian
villages and their history.
Along the years the JNF performed a crude
attempt to eliminate Palestinian civilisation and
their past but it also tried to make Palestine
look like Europe. The Palestinian natural forest
was eradicated. Similarly the olive trees were
uprooted. The pine trees took their place. On the
southern part of mount Carmel the Israelis named
an area as Little Switzerland. I have
learned tonight that Little Switzerland is burned.
However, the facts on the ground were pretty
devastating for the JNF. The pine tree
didnt adapt to the Israeli climate as much
as the Israelis failed to adapt to the
Middle East. According to JNF statistics, six out
of every 10 saplings planted did not survive.
Those few trees that did survive formed nothing
but a firetrap. By the end of each Israeli summer
each of the Israeli pine forests become a
potential deadly zone.
In spite of its nuclear power, its criminal
army, the occupation, the Mossad and its lobbies
all over the world, Israel seems to be very
vulnerable. It is devastatingly alienated
from the land it claims to own. Like the pine
tree, Israel and the Israeli are foreign to the
brothers suspected of starting Carmel wildfire
Police suspect two brothers from the Druze
village of Isfiya of lighting a fire near their
home, which allegedly spread and set the entire
By Fadi Eyadat in Haaretz
Haifa Magistrate's Court on Sunday remanded
two Druze teenagers who allegedly ignited the
most devastating wildfire in Israel's history.
Police arrested Saturday the brothers,
residents of the Druze village of Isfiya, ages 14
and 15. The court remanded them for three days.
The brothers' father said that the two were
not responsible for starting the fire, and were
not present at the scene of the fire when it
"My sons are innocent," the father
said. "The policemen came and took them away
from home as if they were terrorists."
According to the father, the fire broke out
several kilometers away from the family's house.
He claimed that he and his children were
unrelated to the fire and even helped
"They are not connected to this, they do
not smoke and they did not start a campfire. They
are good and innocent kids and we will not let
them be maliciously framed."
Police Commissioner David Cohen said on
Saturday that the fire was caused by negligence,
and not arson, during a situation assessment at
the Israel Police northern headquarters.
The fire in the Carmel has been raging since
Thursday, with Israeli and foreign fire-fighters
still struggling to contain the flames, which
have claimed the lives of 42 people and
devastated thousands of acres of land.
Thousands of people have also been evacuated from
The assumption of negligence is in line with
the assessment of the police investigators from
the Central Region, who said Friday that the fire
had not been set deliberately. Initial
investigations Thursday, shortly after the blaze
started, also led to the conclusion that the fire
was the result of carelessness and not malicious