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By Bill Boyarsky

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Pursuing Peace in the Middle East, Obama Style

Posted on Jan 22, 2009
George Mitchell

George Mitchell

President Obama didn’t wait long to tackle one of the most intractable items in his in box: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On a whirlwind Thursday, Obama spoke to leaders in the region (minus Hamas), called for an end to the Gaza blockade and appointed George Mitchell, the man who brokered a truce in Northern Ireland, as Mideast envoy.

Mitchell said he learned from his “700 days of failure and one day of success” in Ireland not to get discouraged. “Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings,” he said. “They can be ended by human beings.”

Baseball fans know Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, for his investigation of steroids in the sport.

AP via Google:

In taking the Mideast envoy post, Mitchell, 75, will return to a role he pursued during President Bill Clinton’s presidency after his tenure as Senate majority leader from 1989 to 1995. The former senior senator from Maine, Mitchell took on several difficult diplomatic assignments, including chairing peace talks on Northern Ireland.

Mitchell also led an international commission to investigate violence in the Middle East. His report, issued in spring 2001, after Clinton had left office, called for a freeze on Israeli settlements on the West Bank and a Palestinian crackdown on terrorism.

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By Shingo, February 2, 2009 at 10:05 pm Link to this comment


>> Did you think nobody would notice your handle rhymes with “nazi”?

Don’t you think anybody has noticed how close the Nazi playbook Israel are following?

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By Inherit The Wind, February 2, 2009 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment

qazi, January 29 at 4:47 am #
(Unregistered commenter)

A very wise man said, “I do not hate Jews, but I hate what they do to Gentiles (Non-Jews), the rest of the Humanity,” which is more than five billion (5,000,000,000) people in this world. IMAGINE!


qazi: Did you think nobody would notice your handle rhymes with “nazi”?

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By Bertil, January 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

As John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State under President Eisenhower, said during the 1956 Arab-Israeli War, “Why can’t we sit down and talk this over like good Christians?”

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By qazi, January 29, 2009 at 5:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A very wise man said, “I do not hate Jews, but I hate what they do to Gentiles (Non-Jews), the rest of the Humanity,” which is more than five billion (5,000,000,000) people in this world. IMAGINE!


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By Shingo, January 25, 2009 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment


After the Lebanon ass kicking, there was a saying that fighting a weak enemy makes you weak.  That’s what has happened to Israel. 

They will never be prepared to send in ground troops, because it was during the ground assault into Lebanon that they had their asses kicked.  One source I read pointed out that Israelis are no longer prepared to die for their country.  The sense of entitlement that permeates Israsel’s society has turned them into whimps who think it takes courage to drop a bomb on a defenseless population from the safety of an F-16 fighter, 30,000 feet in the air.

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By Bertil, January 25, 2009 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

The other night, a gentleman who seemed to be a spokesman for Israel said that, among other things, Israel’s invasion of Gaza restored the reputation of the IDF as the supreme military force in the Middle East.  Let’s face it.  Their invasion of Gaza was like shooting fish in a barrel.  Of the thousand or so killed, roughly one-third were children.  Reports of out-and-out murder of inocent civilians abound.  Yet this jamoke had the audacity to say that the reputation of the IDF has been restored after the IDF had it handed to them in Lebanon in 2006. 
Young Jewish males are reportedly taking on the hubris and causing trouble in England.  It won’t be long before US citizens will have to put up with it on American streets. After all, they represent victimhood.

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By Fadel Abdallah, January 25, 2009 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

Basking in their glory, the new ruling oligarchy from Obama down, will not have time to look themselves into the mirror to see their crimes!

Instead, I offer you Amer’s words, in a brave and deeply moving interview he did with Democracy Now! yesterday. Amer’s interview can be viewed at:

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By Ed Harges, January 25, 2009 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

re:By driving bear, January 24 at 10:57 pm:

Ed: your argument that we should trust the Zionist media because it sometimes broadcasts Zionist propaganda that’s still not far-right enough to please the Israeli government is similar to the Zionist argument that Israel’s assault on Gaza was “moral” because Israel could have killed many more people than it did.

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By cyrena, January 25, 2009 at 1:48 am Link to this comment

y Shift, January 24 at 9:38 pm #

It is good to see American Jews of conscience taking action against the Zionist killing in Gaza. aid=11881


Yes Shift, finally something we can agree on. It IS good to see American Jews of conscience taking action against the Zionist killings in Gaza.

I would like to add that many of these “American Jews of Conscience” have been doing this for YEARS. Of course they’ve suffered blacklisting and other multiple forms of demonization by the Zionists, (many have suffered the same fates as the millions of Palestinians), but they haven’t given up. They’ve just always needed support that has been consistently undermined by a heavier-weight power. These past 8 years have provided the Zionists with all the backup they needed from the Cheney et all regime. There’s no doubt they are still heavily infiltrated in the US Congress. BUT…I see that changing.

Meantime, the rest of us need to give our full support to these American Jews of Conscience.

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By Shingo, January 25, 2009 at 12:56 am Link to this comment

During the speech annoucing Mitchell’s appointment, Obama made mention of the Arab Peace proposal to recognise Israel as per teh 1967 borders. The Bush administration ignored this proposal, becasue Israel’s leaders wanted to pretend it did not exist.

Hamas has signed this proposal and offered to support a 2 state solution.  I think Mitchell just might get some results, though Israel will do all they can to stonewall him.

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By SiberianRat, January 25, 2009 at 12:00 am Link to this comment

We need to keep as much pressure as possible on the White House and Congress to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and UN resolutions.  AIPAC has much of congress on its money leash (check out and Obama has kowtowed to them too.  We must contact them and let them know that until Israel pulls back to the pre-1967 borders and fully ends the blockade and occupation there will be NO MORE AID.  Moreover, just as Hamas must renounce violence, so must Israel.

For those interested in supporting human rights there, I recommend this fantastic Israeli organization which is working to end the human rights nightmare in occupied Palestine:

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By driving bear, January 24, 2009 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment

Ed wrote
Driving Bear: why should we go read and watch your Israeli propaganda after Israel forbade independent journalists from covering its slaughter in Gaza?

Look, Israel can go on banishing and assaulting journalists - nobody can stop this.

But since everyone knows this is what’s going on, Israel can’t then expect the rest of the world to give credit to the one-sided “reports” provided by its state-approved media.


Ed a Bear knows a scaredy cat when he sees one

As for being Israeli state media , Israel National News ( Arutz Sheva) channel 7 in Hebrew was taken off the air in Israel in 2005 for their vocal opposition to the Gaza withdrawal and now is only available on the Internet

care to try again Ed or is there no room in that closed mind of your for new info aka the truth

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By Ed Harges, January 24, 2009 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment

re: By driving bear, January 24 at 9:44 pm :

Driving Bear: why should we go read and watch your Israeli propaganda after Israel forbade independent journalists from covering its slaughter in Gaza?

Look, Israel can go on banishing and assaulting journalists - nobody can stop this.

But since everyone knows this is what’s going on, Israel can’t then expect the rest of the world to give credit to the one-sided “reports” provided by its state-approved media.

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By Shift, January 24, 2009 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment

Here is another angle regarding the Israeli butchery in Gaza.

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driving bear's avatar

By driving bear, January 24, 2009 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena wrote

~~~I don’t know why they aren’t doing Syria. Does anybody have a guess? The sentence above this one says Syria is not “NOW” on the schedule. I don’t know if that is indicative of anything.~~~

because Syria is a independent nation in name only. as everyone knows Syria will do only what Iran tells it to do because Iran has the money and as we all know money talks and it buys officers in the Syrian military , and Assad know if he does not do was Iran says ” nobody would sell him life insurance”

Cyena also wrote

Israel said it halted the fighting in the Gaza Strip after securing commitments from the United States, European powers and Egypt to crack down on Hamas arms smuggling

you need to read this report in the Jerusalem Post

Other part of the conflict that has received very little attention is the fact when it started that Hamas shot and killed a bunch of Fatah people who were still in Gaza , they also shot a bunch in the legs to “keep them out of the fight” because hamas was afraid that Israel would retake Gaza and return
Fatah and Abbas to power.


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By Shift, January 24, 2009 at 10:38 pm Link to this comment

It is good to see American Jews of conscience taking action against the Zionist killing in Gaza.

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By Robert, January 24, 2009 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment


“Source BBC News website, 24.01.09: Tony Benn voices an honest and compassionate opinion on the BBC’s poor decision not to broadcast a Gaza Charity Appeal, so he did it himself!!! Well done Sir, thank you!!! CREDIT to my fellow comrade, you know who you are :o)”

Tony Benn (former Labour MP, Cabinet Minister and BBC producer): The BBC has “capitulated to Israeli pressure. That’s the truth.”

Edited post to add: Tony Benn during the interview mentioned the address of the DEC that was denied permission to broadcast their appeal for donations to help Palestinians in Gaza over the BBC. He gave the address as:

Disaster Emergency Fund Gaza Crisis

A great moment for courage & humanity…video:

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By Spinoza750, January 24, 2009 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

On listening to Obama’s speech it is clear that Hamas has to gather as many guns/weapons as possible. Obama/Mitchell are just continuing Bush policy.  The Israeli postion is to drive all Arabs out of Israel proper and all of Palestine.

Down with the imperialist scum.

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By cyrena, January 24, 2009 at 9:24 pm Link to this comment

Here’s the latest from MSM

Obama envoy expected in Middle East next week

By Adam Entous and Arshad Mohammed
Saturday, January 24, 2009; 4:19 PM

“GAZA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama plans to dispatch his Middle East envoy to the region next week, in a quick start to the new administration’s efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and shore up a shaky Gaza truce.

Obama has taken the Middle East by surprise with the speed of his diplomatic activism.

Western, Arab and Israeli diplomats said his envoy, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, plans to meet leaders in Egypt, Israel, the occupied West Bank and Jordan, but they ruled out direct contacts with Hamas Islamists who rule the Gaza Strip.

~~This is a HUGE mistake IMO. They must include Hamas, and I’m sick of this “Islamists” tag. Hamas is Hamas, and they are a legitimate political entity in the Occupied Territories. There is no way to negotiate ANYTHING without them at the table.~~

A Western diplomat said Mitchell was likely to go to Saudi Arabia but said Syria was not now on his schedule.

The trip is expected to last roughly a week and will likely include a stop in Saudi Arabia but not Syria, one diplomat said.

~~~I don’t know why they aren’t doing Syria. Does anybody have a guess? The sentence above this one says Syria is not “NOW” on the schedule. I don’t know if that is indicative of anything.~~~

Israel’s refusal to fully lift its blockade of the coastal enclave following its devastating 22-day offensive, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, has thrown into doubt the future of the ceasefire and post-war reconstruction.

A Palestinian official, who is close to the truce talks taking place in Cairo, said both Israel and Hamas would hold their fire as long as Egyptian mediation continued.

But little tangible progress has been made thus far into turning the fragile ceasefire into something more lasting, and diplomats said time was running out. A February 10 Israeli election appears likely to bring to power the right-wing Likud party, which is critical of U.S.-backed peace moves.

Israel is determined to deny Hamas any political gains from the conflict and believes its restrictions at the border crossings will give it leverage in talks to free Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Gaza militants in a 2006 raid.

~~How pathetic is this last gibberish? Israel’s excuse for continuing the starvation and overall suppression of basic survival supplies in order to have ‘leverage’ in talks to free Gilad Shalit is as transparent now as all the rest of the duplicity.~~

Hamas, meanwhile, has cemented its hold on the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million residents, casting doubt on assertions by Israeli leaders that the group has been severely weakened during the 22-day offensive.

Schools and the few government ministries not destroyed in the bombing, reopened on Saturday. “Good morning! Still alive?” excited teenage girls asked each other at the start of classes at Beach Preparatory School in Gaza city.

Hamas plans to start distributing up to 4,000 euros ($5,000) in cash to families hard hit by Israel’s offensive.

Despite Western backing, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas’s rival, has been prevented by Israel from bringing cash into Gaza that would allow his Palestinian Authority to pay its workers and support those in need.

Israel said it halted the fighting in the Gaza Strip after securing commitments from the United States, European powers and Egypt to crack down on Hamas arms smuggling.

France said on Friday it was sending a frigate to patrol international waters off the Gaza coast, but few other concrete measures have been announced. “We have to wait and see. It will be tested by the results,” a senior Israeli official said.”

More at the link:

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By brewerstroupe, January 24, 2009 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

the Palestinian national document does list the destruction of Israel as law.

Funny that. Despite the so-called Hamas Charter never having been adopted by the Hamas Political Party:

The fact is that the founding documents of every major Israeli political party express similar denials of Palestinian rights, loony religious rhetoric and genocidal statements:


The ‘Peace & Security’ chapter of the Likud Party platform “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” The chapter continues: “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.”


“The Israeli nation has a national and historic right to the whole of Israel.”


The founder and spiritual leader of Shas stated:

  “It is forbidden to be merciful to them(Arabs). You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable,” he was quoted as saying in a sermon delivered on Monday to mark the Jewish festival of Passover.

Let us not forget that Israel was founded on terrorism, not only practiced but boasted about. This from the founding documents of the Stern gang:

“Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: “Ye shall blot them out to the last man.” But first and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play: speaking in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier. We are particularly far from this sort of hesitation in regard to an enemy whose moral perversion is admitted by all.”

One is forced to wonder what Israel boosters would expect from a political movement, the very formation of which was inspired by the massacre of 29 praying Palestinians by Baruch Goldstein (whose leaders have been subject to “targeted assassination” by Israel, a war crime in itself)

- love letters?

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By Blackspeare, January 24, 2009 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment


Chomsky’s comparison of the Palestinian struggle to the American Revolution is a bit off the mark.  The Declaration of Independence never called for the destruction of Great Britain while the Palestinian national document does list the destruction of Israel as law.

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By Robert, January 24, 2009 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

Unseen Gaza

Channel 4 Video Report - Broadcast - January 22, 2009

“Is what has been presented on our screens and in our papers a true reflection of events on the ground in Gaza? And how do these reports differ to those aired in other countries?

With reporters unable to enter Gaza, attempted media manipulation from both sides and strict regulations governing what images that can be shown on British TV, Jon Snow asks a range of journalists from at home and abroad about the challenges of getting the full story.

Featuring images that haven’t before been aired on mainstream television, Jon also examines the difference between the coverage at home and that in the US, Europe and the Middle East. He compares the coverage available on terrestrial channels with satellite TV and the internet and investigates the extent to which some British Muslims are by-passing the mainstream British media and looking elsewhere for their information.

To what extent does the choice of news outlet affect opinion of the conflict?”



We do NOT see this kind of reporting & videos/images on CNN, Fox News & the rest of AIPAC’s controlled MSM:

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By ThnkUBush, January 24, 2009 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

Egypt and Israel are negotiating a possible increase in the presence of Egyptian security forces along the Egypt-Gaza border, according to media reports and Stratfor sources. The talks are aimed at containing the ambitions of Hamas and blocking it from smuggling weapons into Gaza — but Hamas will not give up easily.

Israel and Egypt are engaged in negotiations to increase Egypt’s security presence along its border with Gaza, Haaretz reported Jan. 24 and sources confirmed. Deploying Egyptian regular troops to the border will better enable Egypt and Israel to contain the Palestinian Islamist faction Hamas, which has de facto control of Gaza — but it is still unlikely to stem the weapons flow into Gaza completely.

Egypt is currently restricted from increasing its troop presence in the Sinai Peninsula. Under the 1979 Camp David Accords, Egypt was only permitted to deploy police officers to patrol the border. After Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, a new agreement was signed that allowed Egypt to deploy 750 border guards to the Philadelphi Corridor — but as events in recent years have made evident, that number simply is not enough to patrol the 8.2-mile border effectively.

As many previously forecast, the arrangement left Israel with little choice but to negotiate a new agreement that would allow Egypt to deploy more forces to the border. The number of troops is still being discussed: Egyptian security forces say Cairo is pushing to double its forces to at least 1,500 troops, while Haaretz cited “a senior Israeli political source” claiming there are proposals to triple the size of the force to 2,250 (which would allow the 750 border guards to patrol in three shifts 24 hours a day). The next few days will likely reveal the outcome of these negotiations.

Increasing Egypt’s military presence along the Philadelphi Corridor will play a major part in addressing the border security problems that have plagued both the Egyptian and Israeli governments. Both Egypt and Israel need Hamas to be politically contained and cut off from external weapons supplies. Israel’s priority is to deny Hamas access to weapons that can threaten Israeli proper, particularly longer-range rockets that Iran has smuggled into the territories through Hezbollah agents. Meanwhile, the secular regime in Egypt does not want to see Hamas’ influence spill across the border from Gaza and contribute to a rise in support for the Islamist m ain opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.

While a number of European governments have said they will contribute troops to an international border-patrol force, Egypt maintains that it will not agree to any such arrangement. In the interest of preserving its sovereignty in the Sinai Peninsula and in maintaining its influence as the chief mediator between the Palestinians and the Israelis, Egypt is only willing to negotiate now on sending its own forces to the border. If Egypt and Israel work out an agreement, Egypt will send regular military forces to the border instead of the normal border security troops, thereby reducing the risk that disgruntled Egyptian border police could be bought off by smugglers. The Haaretz report claimed that residents in Rafah have reported seeing 1,200 regular troops already at the border, but an Egyptian security source tells Stratfor that those are the border security forces, who have beefed up their presence at Rafah. The border police uniforms and those of the Egyptian army are ver y similar (except for a shoulder patch), which could have led locals to mistake the border troops for regular soldiers.

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By thebeerdoctor, January 24, 2009 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

From the link posted yesterday:

“But for the people of the Middle East, the absence of the word “Gaza” - indeed, the word “Israel” as well - was the dark shadow over Obama’s inaugural address. Didn’t he care? Was he frightened? Did Obama’s young speech-writer not realize that talking about black rights - why a black man’s father might not have been served in a restaurant 60 years ago - would concentrate Arab minds on the fate of a people who gained the vote only three years ago but were then punished because they voted for the wrong people?”
ROBERT FISK, January 22, 2009

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By Sepharad, January 24, 2009 at 12:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mitchell is a very good choice. He’s certainly affected by his mother’s Christian Lebanese heritage, and with Dennis Ross and Clinton WILL bring a more even-handed approach. The fact that this man discomfits both the Israel haters and Abraham Foxman is a promising sign. The haters would be satisfied with nothing less than a Gestapo goon, and Foxman is just as mistaken in his objection because right now, Israel needs LITERALLY critical U.S. support more than ever. An exasperated Roman general once moaned in despair, “Ahhh, the Oriental mind.” Mitchell, in contrast, comes with that piece of the puzzle built in. Way to go, President Obama.

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By Robert, January 23, 2009 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment

Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Stance on Gaza Crisis “Approximately the Bush Position”

NOAM CHOMSKY: “It’s approximately the Bush position. He began by saying that Israel, like any democracy, has a right to defend itself. That’s true, but there’s a gap in the reasoning. It has a right to defend itself. It doesn’t follow that it has a right to defend itself by force. So we might agree, say, that, you know, the British army in the United States in the colonies in 1776 had a right to defend itself from the terror of George Washington’s armies, which was quite real, but it didn’t follow they had a right to defend themselves by force, because they had no right to be here. So, yes, they had a right to defend themselves, and they had a way to do it—namely, leave. Same with the Nazis defending themselves against the terror of the partisans. They have no right to do it by force. In the case of Israel, it’s exactly the same. They have a right to defend themselves, and they can easily do it. One, in a narrow sense, they could have done it by accepting the ceasefire that Hamas proposed right before the invasion—I won’t go through the details—a ceasefire that had been in place and that Israel violated and broke.

But in a broader sense—and this is a crucial omission in everything Obama said, and if you know who his advisers are, you understand why—Israel can defend itself by stopping its crimes. Gaza and the West Bank are a unit. Israel, with US backing, is carrying out constant crimes, not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank, where it is moving systematically with US support to take over the parts of the West Bank that it wants and to leave Palestinians isolated in unviable cantons, Bantustans, as Sharon called them. Well, stop those crimes, and resistance to them will stop.

Now, Israel has been able pretty much to stop resistance in the Occupied Territories, thanks in large part to the training that Obama praised by Jordan, of course with US funding and monitoring control. So, yes, they’ve managed to. They, in fact, have been suppressing demonstrations, even demonstrations, peaceful demonstrations, that called for support for the people of Gaza. They have carried out lots of arrests. In fact, they’re a collaborationist force, which supports the US and Israel in their effort to take over the West Bank.

Now, that’s what Obama—if Israel—there’s no question that all of these acts are in total violation of the foundations of international humanitarian law. Israel knows it. Their own advisers have told each other—legal advisers have explained that to them back in ’67. The World Court ruled on it. So it’s all total criminality. But they want to be able to persist without any objection. And that’s the thrust of Obama’s remarks. Not a single word about US-backed Israeli crimes, settlement development, cantonization, a takeover in the West Bank. Rather, everyone should be quiet and let the United States and Israel continue with it.

He spoke about the constructive steps of the peace—of the Arab peace agreement very selectively. He said they should move forward towards normalization of relations with Israel. But that wasn’t the main theme of the Arab League peace proposal. It was that there should be a two-state settlement, which the US blocks. I mean, he said some words about a two-state settlement, but not where or when or how or anything else. He said nothing about the core of the problem: the US-backed criminal activities both in Gaza, which they attacked at will, and crucially in the West Bank. That’s the core of the problem.”

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By Fadel Abdallah, January 23, 2009 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

This is no starter!

Talking about peace, for the public consumption, while continue creating condition for wars by presenting the victimizer as the victim and vise-versa, while terrorist Israel continues to create facts on the ground!

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By Folktruther, January 23, 2009 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

Diamond, the alternative to a Palesitinian state is NOT too horrible to contemplate.  History is largely the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind and the truth of the matter is often not pretty, but its real.  And we have to understand the laternatives if we are to change them.

The alternative to a Palestinian state is continued ethnic cleansing; what Isreal is based on.  Because it is horrible doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened or won’t continue to happen.  The US-Isreali leaders now advocate speciously a two state solution while in reality continuing ethnic cleansing.  Obama was ushered into office by the Ganan massacre, which he implicitly supported, and his first day in office indicated that he is going to continue it.

I’‘m sorry this is so, but it is the simple truth of the matter.  The Palestinians will only gain a state by fighting for it, and it must fight the US, which is now Obama, and Israel.  A horrible prospect but you simply can’t turn away from the truth because it is horrible.

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By diamond, January 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment

I don’t blame anyone for being sceptical but this is not Bush, or Cheney or the neo cons. This is Obama. Curb your enthusiasm for negativity and give peace a chance people. Obama’s not a retard like Bush or a war criminal like Cheney and he will make a difference in spite of the Republicans and their tame media stooges and the conservatives in the Democrats own ranks. He’s got a steely gaze and he also has a functioning brain, something George II lacked entirely. It will be softly, softly but there really is no viable option to a Palestinian state, an end to the blockade and a recognition of Hamas as the elected government of the West Bank and Gaza. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate. You can’t only accept a democratically elected government if you agree with their policies. If that was the case, democracy would break down all over the world- which is where we were heading under Bush/McCain. Be grateful for Obama. It could all have been so much worse.

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By omop, January 23, 2009 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

This long but worth the read. Not so much Mitchell as the concurrent commentaries about Israel…..THE ROGUE STATE…sounds more inflammatory than HAMAS.

How Gaza became a Palestinian prison

The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state.

The occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the 1967 War had little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic, and military control over the Palestinian territories.

In August 2005, a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout, withdrawing settlers and destroying the houses they left behind. Sharon presented the withdrawal as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution.

The real purpose behind the move was to redraw the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to peace but to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral move undertaken in what was seen as the Israeli national interest.

Israel portrays itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism.

Israel’s propaganda machine purveys the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antiSemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics. But the truth is that the Palestinians are a normal people with normal aspirations. They want a piece of land on which to live in freedom and dignity.

The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians are seen by the world as a humanitarian problem, derailing their struggle for statehood.

As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression, but the asymmetry of power leaves little room for doubt as to who the real victim is. To be sure, Hamas is not an entirely innocent party. Denied the fruit of its electoral victory and confronted with an unscrupulous adversary, it has resorted to the weapon of the weak—terror. In the three years since the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis have been killed by rocket fire. In 2005 to 2007 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.

The brutality of Israel’s soldiers is matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. Its core messages are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel’s objective is the defense of its population; and that Israel’s forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt civilians.

But it was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire, with a raid into Gaza on Nov. 4 that killed six Hamas men. Israel’s objective is not just the defense of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government by turning the people against their rulers.

Israel’s record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders.”

Israel’s real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbors but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones.

Avi Shlaim is author of The Iron Wall: This essay is adapted from a piece that originally appeared in The Guardian.

The American Conservative.

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By P. T., January 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment

Obama’s statements on Thursday were a sham.  He did not even mention the Zionist settlement building or occupation.  Israel has made lifting the blockade conditional.  For Noam Chomsky on Gaza, click on

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By Blackspeare, January 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

As I often say, “Ahead to the past!”  Returning Mitchell to his former position as ME envoy is the epitome of deja vu!  Let me see, my crystal ball says that Mitchell will demand that Israel stop all settlement expansion and that Hamas stop all rockets.  Now the Israelis have been here before and know how to play the game.  They will agree to stop all expansion EXCEPT for inherent growth within the existing population which is now considerable.  Hamas, also will play the game and continue to launch rockets though at lesser targets to keep Israel at bay while playing up to their constituents. It took Mitchell a good two years to arrive at a framework in Northern Ireland——it will a a considerably longer time in the ME.

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By Folktruther, January 23, 2009 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

Obama came to office by tacitly supporting Israel’s barbaric pseudo-war against the Gazan population.  His first day in office he discussed his plans with Israel’s leaders, the puppet regimes of Egypt and Jordan that the US finances, and the Israeli puppet Abbas and the Fatah financed by the US.  He excluded from any discussions the only defenders of the Palestian population, Hamas.  He wants to block their tunnels to allow Israel’s starvation blockade to be more effective.

Zbig, and early Obaama mentor, maintained in AMERICA AND THE WORLD that the Israel problem must be attacked early in the Administration while maximum influence is available to apply.  He was pessimistic that anything could or would be done.

He was right.  Obama has cut himself off by his Zionist appointments from putting pressure on Israel and will continue to support Israeli ethnic cleansing, probably for the rreminder of his term, as Bush did.

But now Israel is getting increasingly barbaric, even destroying UN facilities with phospherous shells to the joy of an increasing fraction of the Israeli population. Obama is supporting policies that are WORSE than Bush.  He appears to be riding the US power system down into an abyss while he serves a public relations function, as Bush did.

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By Louis Proyect, January 23, 2009 at 10:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This article sounds like it could have been written by Obama’s press secretary.

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By dihey, January 23, 2009 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

As long as President Obama does not categorically demand of Israel to “stop the land-stealing in the West Bank or else” his attempts for a brokered peace agreement will go down the drain. So far I have not heard anything from him even close to “change” on the conflict. It is, thus far, business as usual.

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By Bertil, January 23, 2009 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

All Israel wants is Lebensraum!  The same as Hitler.  Maybe now they will be linked historically and we’ll stop being subjected to this constant reminder of the Holocaust.
As and old Jewish lady said about the Palestinians while sitting on the a bench at Fisherman’s Beach, “Why don’t they just get out.  Nobody wants them there.”

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By driving bear, January 23, 2009 at 5:03 am Link to this comment

First off Obama will want to get reelected in 2012 so til then he will be very pro Israel
second as stated Mitchell is half Arab christian , and Arab christians are not very happy with the so called Palestinian people

Mitchell will put on a show for the TV cameras but in the end all he will do is waste jet fuel in his peace making trips to the middle east.

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By cyrena, January 22, 2009 at 11:00 pm Link to this comment

Another thing that TPM mentions in this item:

Unstated here [in Foxman’s remarks] is that Mitchell is half Lebanese Christian by ancestry. And I think there’s little way that isn’t playing into this in the background….

Interesting, eh Cyrena?


Interesting INDEED!! I’d missed this in the linked article. (must be the aging process).

Anyway, this is SO interesting that it brings me back to so many of the earlier and contentious debates about Obama and his fundamental mindset about this long-standing genocide. (I know it pisses everybody off that I call it what it is. But that is – by legal definition in the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide – what it is.)

I remember back to his political life BEFORE he decided to run for President, and I KNOW that he was involved with the Palestinian Community in Chicago, and that he was a friend and colleague of Edward Said. (As as aside, I took a seminar with his son, Walid Said. They’re nothing alike.) Anyway,  I THINK that the late Edward Said is also a Christian Lebanese. I could be wrong, and I hope I’m not confusing that part with Ralph Nadar, who I KNOW is of Lebanese Maronite stock. (I call ‘em Arab Catholics, but I can do that, and most people know what I’m talking about.)

But I said all of that to say that Obama and the late Edward Said go back quite a ways, and his (Obama’s) sympathies have always been on the side of the Palestinians, based on the obvious..all the same stuff that the rest of the world can see. So I don’t believe that he was ever ‘fooled’ by Israeli propaganda himself, despite the obvious ‘pandering’ to AIPAC. (I admit it was really bad). BUT, we already know the real politik of *that*, and in the environment that has existed for well over a decade in DC, there was no way to avoid the farce of that. Obama would have gone by the wayside the same way Dennis Kucinich did, if he’d done anything differently – like making a platform out of criticizing Israel.  That’s the political reality, and one has to be prepared to take the heat when they are doing ‘whatever it takes’ even when there’s no way to explain it to everyone in so many least at the time. So we can only hope that folks finally do (in hindsight, when the action has officially commenced) ‘get it.’

Anyway, I feel a bit vindicated, since at the end of the day, what the guy actually DOES in his capacity as President, is far more important than what he DIDN’T say or do before he officially acquired that power. At the bottom line, it’s the equivalent of “Money Talks, Bullshit Walks.” (or crawls)

Now all we do is make sure there’s plenty of ink in Obama’s pen. It (the pen and the ink) can be a wondrous thing .  Wonder if he can write an EO nullifying this flippin’ War OF Terror? Could we end an “Era of Terra” so easily? If only. 

Since we can’t this is a good spot for words of wisdom from a wise woman:

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

- Maya Angelou

Meantime, we’ll keep an eye on the progress. Eileen, thanks for the update.

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By eileen fleming, January 22, 2009 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment

I emailed the Irish Nobel Peace Prize Laurette Mairead Maguire re Mitchell and she replied:

Dear Eileen,

Senator Mitchell is a good man whom I admire as he helped in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

I remember he traveled well over 100 times from USA to Northern Ireland to help bring the various parties together and was very helpful.

I am glad he has been appointed and know he will bring great compassion, fairness and perseverance to his enormous challenge. 

Yes, like him I believe every conflict can be solved, where there is political will. 

The conflict of the Israeli state and Palestinian state (yes I said Palestinian state as even if Israel does not recognize it the world does) can be solved by Israel ending its occupation and apartheid system and this is a problem of political will of Israel and USA to bring freedom and justice to the people of Palestine.  I hope the appointment of Senator Mitchell is a sign that the USA Administration is Prepared to treat both parties fairly and equally,  and to work for Palestinians Human rights and Freedom.

Peace Eileen,




More from Mairead: THE Ongoing NAKBA

[Occupied east Jerusalem] On November 19, 2008, during the final day of Sabeel’s [Arabic for The Way] 7th International Conference: THE NAKBA:  MEMORY, REALITY AND BEYOND, Noble Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire inspired nearly 300 internationals to rise up and honour Mordechai Vanunu.

Vanunu has been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize annually since 1986 for his courage and truth telling, by providing the photographic evidence that warned the world that Israel had already manufactured upwards of 200 nuclear warheads in 1985. Israel locked Vanunu up for 18 years, has held him under house arrest since April 2004, yet Israel continues to get away with nuclear ambiguity, has never allowed IAEA inspectors into the Dimona, nor have they signed the NPT.

Vanunu’s Supreme Court appeal fighting a three month jail sentence for speaking to foreigners-who happened to be media-in 2004, is scheduled to be heard in the New Year. 

Mairead said:

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By Ed Harges, January 22, 2009 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

Hi Cyrena! Thanks for the thanks!

Another thing that TPM mentions in this item:

Unstated here [in Foxman’s remarks] is that Mitchell is half Lebanese Christian by ancestry. And I think there’s little way that isn’t playing into this in the background….

Interesting, eh Cyrena?

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By cyrena, January 22, 2009 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment


I know little to nothing about this guy Mitchell, aside from what it says here. So, I was wondering. Based on what you’ve posted for us here, this sounds like good news. I hope he’ll team up with Richard Falk, the UN’s Human Rights special rapporteur appointed/elected to deal with that ‘conflict’.

Of course we know what happened to him when he showed up in Tel Aviv a week or 10 days before the savage assault began. He was there specifically to try and get them to lift the blockade that was already long in effect, and creating the major humanitarian crises. But of course since it was HIM, an outspoken critic of Israel and an American Jew, they ran him right out of there.(well, after detaining him at the airport for the standard Israeli type security inspection) So in effect, these crazy bastards expelled the UN.

One thing that did come of that attempted visit from Falk though, was that Israel did release 224 Palestinian prisoners they’d been holding for the standard NON-reasons. Of course that may have just been to make room for new ones.

Anyway, thanks for this info. If Mitchell is any good, he should have been ‘assigned’ to this long ago, instead of that flippin’ steroid investigation.

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By Kwagmyre, January 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Probably a good choice by Obama but unless Hamas is somehow included in peace talks(which is assuming they are open to discussion with the Israelis and the P.A. as well), there likely won’t be any substantive deal achieved.

And imagine if a decision is made(which is seemingly necessary)to “de-settlerize” the entire West Bank of those 200,000+ Jewish fundamentalists.  .....good luck!!!

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By Ed Harges, January 22, 2009 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

Abraham Foxman, leader of the ultra-Zionist “Anti-Defamation League”, doesn’t like Mitchell. He thinks Mitchell is dangerous for Israel. Foxman is surprisingly honest about why he thinks Mitchell is dangerous: Mitchell is not good for Israel simply because he is fair:

“Sen. Mitchell is fair. He’s been meticulously even-handed,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “But the fact is, American policy in the Middle East hasn’t been ‘even handed’—it has been supportive of Israel when it felt Israel needed critical U.S. support.

“So I’m concerned,” Foxman continued. “I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”...

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