12 November 2014

The Struggle for Palestine (update)

I am pleased to announce the publication of a new page on this website devoted to the historical essays of William R. Polk, a well known historian specializing in the Middle East and a good friend.  The initial set of three essays is his recent series, The Struggle for Palestine.  Together, these essays amount to a small book and provide very useful background for anyone interested in understanding this intractable problem.  They are downloadable in pdf format.

However, before reading them, I would urge readers to watch this one hour video. It is about two years old, having been posted on Youtube on 2 December 2012.  The speaker is an Israeli and son of one of Israel's legendary generals.  It is one of the best video summaries of the struggle for Palestine that I have ever seen (h/t to James P. Stevenson for bringing this to my my attention.)

05 November 2014

Assault on the Liberty - Revisited

[10 November edit: is a slightly changed version of the 5 Nov posting to account for the fact that the embedded youtube video in my original posting of 5 November has been taken down.]

Al Jazeera America has produced a damning TV documentary on Israel's deliberate and unprovoked attack on the U.S.N.S. Liberty, a WWII Navy liberty ship that had been converted into electronics snooper to support the NSA by listening in on other nation's electronic transmissions.  The attack occurred in international waters, in clear weather, at 2PM on 8 June 1967, the fourth day of Israel's six day war, just prior to the Israeli shift of its main effort to the northern front in Syria (which resulted in Israel's capture of the Golan Heights, a move President Johnson had urged the Israelis not to make).  The film writers viewpoint can be at this link.  As of 10 November, the Al Jazeera video was still posted on the military.com website at this link. [A separate video interviewing the survivors of the Liberty and other officials can be found at this link.]

The story of this attack, its cover up, and the sellout of the American crew members by the U.S. politicians and the U.S. Navy is one of the most disgusting in the annuals of American military history.  To this day, the overwhelming majority of Americans are either unfamiliar with it or believe it was a tragic accident.  We still do not know exactly why Israel chose to  attack the Liberty, because officials in the US government colluded with Israelis to squelch investigations by fobbing it off as a case of mistaken identity.  (The most prominent hypothesis for Israel's motivations is posed at the end of the Al Jazeera documentary, but it is not the only one.) 

While most of the information in the Al Jazeera documentary has been in the public domain for years, Al Jazeera (and the Liberty survivors) pulled off a few journalistic coups:  

1. Audios of the tapes between Israeli pilots and their controllers were aired for the first time.  They confirm that Israeli pilots could see clearly that the target was an American ship; they questioned their air controllers over the decision to attack, saying explicitly the target was an American ship.  But controllers ordered them to attack anyway, and then one transmission indicated  that the Israeli Navy was going to get a piece of the action. Sure enough, Israeli naval patrol boats showed up after the air attacks, torpedoed the heavily damaged ship, and machine gunned life rafts and survivors. Tapes of these conversations have been known to exist for a long time, but the American tapes were buried in the National Security Agency's (NSA's) super secret vaults.  Israeli tapes are also suspected to exist.  So while it is not clear who Al Jazeera's source is, the airing of these tapes is a major contribution to this sordid story (assuming they are authentic).

2.  Al Jazeera also identified some pro-Israeli agents of influence (spies) among President Lyndon Johnson's most intimate associates and advisors, who where feeding the Israelis information on Johnson's intentions for dealing with the immediate aftermath of the attack.  In effect, Al Jazeera breaks new ground in explaining how the Israeli and American governments effectively colluded to successfully limit political damage and ultimately bury the story about Israel's cold blooded killing of 34 and the wounding of 174 American sailors.

3.  Al Jazzeera interviewed for the record a former director of NSA and a senior intelligence official of the State Department (now both retired).

In no way implying criticism, there a few points Al Jazeera did not raise, probably for reasons of time: The most important question not addressed is - Why is the Liberty disaster the only major Naval disaster that Congress steadfastly refused to investigate?  The documentary referred obliquely to the variety of systematic and malicious pressures to silence the crew members from discussing their experience.  These pressures have been well described by the Liberty survivors and the support the thesis of a coverup, beginning with 1979 publication of Assault on the Liberty, written by the Liberty's executive officer, James Ennes.  The book was distributed gratis to every member of Congress, but generated no interest in an investigation.

The Liberty Affair may the most sordid example of Israel's corrupting influence on U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy, but it was by no means the first.  Attached herewith is Ambassador Andrew I. Killgore's excellent review of Alison Weir's important book, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of the U.S. was used to create Israel (February 2014).  Weir documents the early history (with roots dating back to the 19th Century) of how  Zionist agents of influence misshaped America's domestic politics to create the state of Israel.  Whereas Weir's book is about the roots of Israel's distorting influence on U.S. domestic as well as foreign policy, a description of how that misshapes contemporary U.S. foreign policy can be found in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.  

The Assault on the U.S.N.S Liberty is a hinge connecting the murky distortions of the past (Weir) to the outright corruption of present (Mearsheimer and Walt).  That is why it is time for Congress to hold investigatory hearings to let the sun shine in, perhaps with rays of light reaching in both directions.  At the very least, Congress can determine if the audio tapes are authentic. But if you believe our broken political system can muster the courage to do that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

How Zionists Outmaneuvered and Replaced State Department Experts
A Brief History of US-Israel Relations
by Amb. ANDREW I. KILLGORE, Counterpunch, 4 November 2014
Alison Weir writes at the beginning of her book, Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the U.S. was used to create Israel, that while many people are led to believe that U.S. support for Israel is driven by the American establishment and U.S. national interests, facts do not support that belief. The reality is that while for decades almost all U.S. experts opposed Israel and its founding, they were outmaneuvered and eventually replaced by Zionists.
Political Zionism started in the late 1800s as an international movement to establish a Jewish state somewhere in the world. By 1897 the movement was led by Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl, who convened the First Zionist World Congress in Basel, Switzerland the same year. U.S. Zionism began in the 1880s. The Board of Delegates of American Israelites was organized in 1861. The group was strong enough during the American Civil War to block an effort by the Union to declare America a Christian nation.
In 1887 President Grover Cleveland appointed a Jewish ambassador to Turkey, establishing a precedent for naming a Jew to that post for the next 30 years. This represented the growing power of the Zionist movement. But in 1912, when the Zionist Literary Society asked President William Taft for an endorsement, Secretary of State Philander Knox was able to thwart the effort. Knox argued that Zionism “related to the interests of countries other than our own.”
But after Knox, simply every American official has opposed Zionist efforts to involve the United States on the same grounds: the efforts are against the interests of the United States. The Zionists were and are aware of this, so they always resorted to secrecy to conceal their real aims.
In 1912 the prominent U.S. attorney Louis Brandeis became head of the Zionist Central office, which had moved from Berlin, Germany a little while before. Brandeis is better known as a Supreme Court Justice, but he played a sinister role in high Zionist affairs. He recruited young lawyers, particularly from Harvard, to work for the Zionist cause. He was a leader of a secret society called the Parushim to work for Zionism with all the outward appearance of simply a fraternal order. Each member took a practically blood oath to secretly work for Zionism.
When Brandeis was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson he officially resigned from all his clubs and affiliations. But this was only for show. Weir quotes historian/journalist Donald Neff: “Through his lieutenants he remained the power behind the throne. One of these lieutenants was the well-regarded Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, whose Zionist activities had largely gone unnoticed.”
Weir very astutely and brilliantly covers World War One and the Balfour Declaration (Britain promising to support a “national home” for Jews in Palestine). The Declaration was critical for Zionism success with the reason behind it, Zionism’s promise to work for the U.S. to enter the war on Britain’s side. Author Alison Weir writes that whether the Zionist role in getting America into the war was major, as the Zionists claim, and the British believed, is unclear.
In one of her quoted references Chaim Weizmann, who later became the first president of Israel, complains in his autobiography about the British/Zionist myth that he invented TNT, the reward for which was the Balfour Declaration. He said he did not invent the explosive. The origin of the TNT myth was an obvious attempt to cover up Britain’s real reason for issuing the declaration, which clearly was to get America into the war on Britain’s side, without which she would have lost the war.
Ms. Weir’s coverage of the 1919 Peace Conference in Paris is excellent. The Conference was rife with Zionists arguing for the Jewish state. The most prominent American opposing them was Dr. Howard Bliss, president of the Syrian Protestant College, later the American University of Beirut. President Wilson did send the King-Crane Commission to study what the Middle Easterners wanted. The two men found that the Arabs were utterly against the “national home” idea. It was clear that the Jewish representatives wanted a nearly complete dispossession of the Palestinians and that armed force would be required to carry out Zionist aims.
Throughout Judgment Alison Weir clearly documents the total lack of ethics and morality, as generally understood, on the part of the Zionists. For example, they fabricated stories of gross anti-Semitism in Poland to gain sympathy. When the American ambassador to Poland reported that they were false, Brandeis and Frankfurter claimed that the ambassador had undercut their mission. Frankfurter threatened that he would try to block his Senate confirmation.
The Zionists ran a gigantic public relations campaign targeting every sector of society, including particularly the Christians, who had little knowledge of the nature of Zionism or of its true goals. Thus the Zionists played on the “tragic plight of the refugees fleeing from persecution and finding no home.” As anti-Zionist Rabbi Elmer Berger says in his memoirs, there was a “ubiquitous propaganda campaign reaching just about every point of political leverage of American life.”
It is important to emphasize that essentially all official American personnel opposed the Zionists. Foreign Service Officer Evan Wilson, U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, opposed them on national interests grounds. Loy Henderson, director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, wrote that supporting partition of Palestine “would have a strongly adverse effect on American interests throughout the Near and Middle East.” When Henderson persisted in putting his views forward, the Zionists attacked him viciously, calling him an “anti-Semite,” demanding his resignation and threatening his family. Henderson was transferred by President Harry Truman as ambassador to Nepal/India. The transfer of Henderson reflects the reality of what happens to Foreign Service officers who criticize Israel, even today.
Others who spoke warning words about Zionism and its adverse effect on American national interests were George F. Kennan, head of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff. He wrote that the 1947 partition plan for Palestine had done enormous damage to the U.S. Under Secretary of State (later Secretary) Dean Acheson said that to transform Palestine into a Jewish state would imperil not only American but all Western interests in the Near East.
Judgment is prodigiously documented, with nearly 200 books and papers listed. Weir quotes two sources, one of them an Iraqi Jew, as writing that the Zionists terrorized Iraqi Jews into going to Israel by planting bombs in Baghdad synagogues, all to increase the population of Israel. Jews even killed Jews to force immigration to Israel.
In 1948 there was a battle between Secretary of State (General) George Marshall and Clark Clifford, political adviser to President Harry Truman, over Truman’s support for Zionism/Israel. Marshall argued for national interests, while Clifford argued for electoral politics. Marshall quit speaking to Clifford over their differences.
In April 1948, just before the State of Israel was established, Jewish terrorists attacked the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, massacring 175 men, women and children. The facts spread quickly in Palestine and 750,000 refugees fled from their homes. The Zionists had anticipated the flight, leaving room for Jews in the evacuated homes and farms.
The ruthlessness of the Zionists is illustrated by the fate of Dorothy Thompson, “one of the most famous journalists of the 20th century,” according to the Britannica encyclopedia. Her columns were in newspapers all over the country, her radio program was heard by millions of people. She had been married to one of the most famous novelists (Babbitt), Sinclair Lewis.
Thompson had at first supported Zionism, but changed her mind when she saw Palestinian refugees. Then she was attacked as an anti-Semite, her columns were dropped from newspapers and her speaking engagements stopped. Today, Weir says, “She has been largely erased from history.”
Now that Israel has been around for more than 60 years and its virtues are sung in the American media, it is easy to forget, or not even to have heard, that the country is extremely adverse to American national interests and its policies enormously destructive and dangerous to America’s well-being. Thus Alison Weir must be highly commended for throwing such a brilliantly hard light on the relationship between the United States and Israel. I hope this marvelous book gets all the attention it deserves.

Ambassador Andrew I. Killgore is the publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and a retired diplomat who served as a career foreign service officer in Frankfurt, London, Beirut, Jerusalem, Amman, Baghdad, Dacca, Tehran, Manama, and Wellington and as a desk officer in other Near East and South Asia regional bureau positions in the State Department in Washington before his assignment as U.S. Ambassador in Doha. Ambassador Killgore received the “Foreign Service Cup” in 1997, the citation stating: “For impressive contributions to increased awareness and understanding of the Middle East and the many dimensions of United States’ interests in the area.”