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Volume XXXII, No. 4

On Middle East Affairs

May 2013

Telling the Truth for More Than 30 Years… Interpreting the Middle East for North Americans

Interpreting North America for the Middle East

THE U.S. ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE 8 Obama Reaches Out to Israelis, but With the Wrong Message—Rachelle Marshall 10 Obama’s Visit to Israel—Three Views —Richard Falk, Abdeen Jabara and Scott McConnell

24 Libya a Cautionary Tale for International Intervention in Syria—Ian Williams 25 Syria in the Time of Cholera—Fehmy Saddy, Ph.D. 40 King Pyrrhus and the War on Iraq—Two Views —Patrick J. Buchanan and Eric Margolis

16 Grave Threats to the Middle East—Patrick Seale CONGRESS AND THE 2012 ELECTIONS 18 To the Victor, the Spoils—Uri Avnery 20 Getting the Words Right: Israel Isn’t Occupying Palestine—It’s Conquered It—Delinda C. Hanley 22 A Union Struggles to Regain Its Voice —Mohammed Omer

28 AIPAC’s Annual Meeting Prompts New Anti-Iran, Pro-Israel Measures—Shirl McArthur 30 No Surprise: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Is the Israel Lobby’s Newest Man in Washington

—Janet McMahon 31 Pro-Israel PAC Contributions to 2012 Congressional Candidates—Compiled by Hugh Galford

SPECIAL REPORTS 38 The Cyrus Cylinder—Often Referred to as the “First Bill of Human Rights”

—Barbara G.B. Ferguson 42 The Incredible Tale of Gwenyth Todd and the “Naive” Neocons—Maidhc Ó Cathail

ON THE COVER: Elderly Palestinian women take part in a March 16, 2013 demonstration near the illegal West Bank settlement of Ma’on, south of Hebron, to demand Israeli escort for Palestinian students, who are under constant harassment by the settlers. HAZEM BADER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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(A Supplement to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs available by subscription at $15 per year. To subscribe, call toll-free 1-888-881-5861.)

Other Voices

Compiled by Janet McMahon

Goading Gullible America Into War, Patrick J. Buchanan,


When Obama Speaks (and Says Nothing), Gideon Levy, Haaretz


Palestinians Pressured to Leave “Area C” Of Occupied West Bank by Israel, Ben Lynfield, The Forward


Dennis Ross: Netanyahu’s Attorney in Washington, Noam Sheizaf,


Slander Israel’s Critics as Anti-Semites, Shut Down Debate on Israel’s Atrocities, Larry Derfner, Haaretz


Is the Anti-Occupation Movement Driven by Defenders of Genocide?, Dr. Paul Larudee, Israel: Where Soccer Fans Boo Their Own Players When They Score, Dave Zirin,



1963: The Year the Israel Lobby Transcended U.S. Law, Grant Smith,


“Israel Lobby” to Push for Aid Despite Sequestration Cuts, Josh Ruebner,


Looming Sequestration Cuts Cause Split Among Israel Aid Advocates, Nathan Guttman, The Forward


Israel Lobby Group Gears up Early to Counter Church Divestment Initiatives in 2014, Alex Kane, OV-12 Iraq Once More on the Brink of War, Karlos Zurutuza, Inter Press Service


U.S. Breaks Promises to Iraqi and Afghan Refugees, Thomas Hedges,


Pak-Iran Pipeline Carries Energy and Defiance, Richard Heydarian, Inter Press Service OV-15


50 ISRAEL AND JUDAISM: Israel Discriminates Against NonOrthodox Jews as Well as Against Muslims and Christians—Allan C. Brownfeld

48 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Anniversary of Syrian Revolution Observed

—Pat and Samir Twair

Arab League Celebrates Its 68th Anniversary 71 BULLETIN BOARD

52 OTHER PEOPLE’S MAIL 54 ARAB-AMERICAN ACTIVISM: ADC Celebrates International Women’s Day by Honoring Four

46 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Ramsey Clark Urges Americans to Say “No More” to Our Government Abusing Power—Elaine Pasquini


55 HUMAN RIGHTS: Coalition Calls for the Release of Imprisoned Women 56 MUSIC & ARTS: Interculturalism in Iberia 57 WAGING PEACE: Prof. Stephen Walt Slams U.S. Foreign Policy

72 DVD AND BOOK REVIEWS: Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football and the American Dream

—Reviewed by Dale Sprusansky The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East


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Publisher: Managing Editor: News Editor: Book Club Director: Admin. Director: Art Director: Assistant Editor: Executive Editor:


Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (ISSN 8755-4917) is published 9 times a year, monthly except Jan./Feb., June/July and Oct./Nov. combined, at 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-1707. Tel. (202) 939-6050. Subscription prices (United States and possessions): one year, $29; two years, $55; three years, $75. For Canadian and Mexican subscriptions, $35 per year; for other foreign subscriptions, $70 per year. Periodicals, postage paid at Washington, DC and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Published by the American Educational Trust (AET), a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC by retired U.S. foreign service officers to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. AET’s Foreign Policy Committee has included former U.S. ambassadors, government officials, and members of Congress, including the late Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright and Republican Sen. Charles Percy, both former chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Members of AET’s Board of Directors and advisory committees receive no fees for their services. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs does not take partisan domestic political positions. As a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, it endorses U.N. Security Council Resolution 242’s land-for-peace formula, supported by nine successive U.S. presidents. In general, it supports Middle East solutions which it judges to be consistent with the charter of the United Nations and traditional American support for human rights, selfdetermination, and fair play. Material from the Washington Report may be reprinted without charge with attribution to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Bylined material must also be attributed to the author. This release does not apply to photographs, cartoons or reprints from other publications. Indexed by Ebsco Information Services, InfoTrac, LexisNexis, Public Affairs Information Service, Index to Jewish Periodicals, Ethnic News Watch, Periodica Islamica. CONTACT INFORMATION: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Editorial Office and Bookstore: P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009-9062 Phone: (202) 939-6050 • (800) 368-5788 Fax: (202) 265-4574 E-mail: Web sites: Subscriptions, sample copies and donations: P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Phone: (888) 881-5861 • Fax: (714) 226-9733 Printed in the USA

MAY 2013

LetterstotheEditor More Kinds of “Tough Love” I was very glad to read Paul Findley’s article, “Tough Love Can Bring a Just Peace” (April 2013 Washington Report, p. 13), expressing a thought whose time may, perhaps, finally be coming in America. Findley suggests use by President Barack Obama of the mechanism of an executive order to condition further delivery of military aid to Israel (about $3 billion a year) on achievement of a goal, namely, a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine. There are other mechanisms by which Obama might deliver “tough love” to Israel. One is to use U.N. Security Council votes (and the withholding of Security Council vetoes). Another is to use diplomacy with other countries to encourage their development of sanctions (part of the Palestinians’ civic project of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against Israel until various goals were met. As to goals, while signing of a final peace treaty is certainly a possible and valuable goal, another goal might be Israel’s removal of all settlers, dismantlement of the wall and of all settlements within territories occupied in 1967, and the full lifting of the siege against Gaza. This goal could be adopted by most countries by way of fulfillment of their undertakings under the Fourth Geneva Convention, in other words, as an effort at pressing Israel to conduct the occupations in conformance with international norms, laws, and agreements. And of course, President Obama could pursue both goals and use whichever mechanisms seemed politically available to him. While his desire to continue funding the Democratic Party might lead him away from using a public executive order or Security Council action, secret diplomacy might be available to him without undue political cost. Peter Belmont, Brooklyn, NY Israel has long demonstrated its contempt for international law—although, as you suggest, this may be because the U.S. has shielded it from any consequences. However, as Donald Neff relates in Fifty Years of Israel (published by AET and available from the AET Book Club), Israel reluctantly agreed in 1957 to withdraw from the Sinai peninsula after President Dwight D. Eisenhower “threatened that he would approve trade sanctions against Israel and might also cut off all private assistance to Israel, which amounted to $40 milTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

lion in tax-deductible donations and $60 million annually in the purchase of bonds.” Apparently money talks in a way that mere words do not. Israel might respond to certain international actions, however, such as being banned from the Olympics, as was apartheid South Africa from 1964 to 1992. How long such a ban on Israel might last would be up to the Israelis themselves.

John Foster Dulles Just received your April 2013 Issue which I’m enjoying very much, but noticed a photo on p. 52 that can’t be correct. You identify the two men in the picture as Lessing Rosenwald and President Harry Truman.

The man on the left is definitely John Foster Dulles and the man on the right can’t be Harry Truman. I’ve been a student of Truman too long to not recognize the man in the photo as someone else. Besides, the caption indicates this was a meeting of the two men in 1953. Dwight Eisenhower would have been president that year. I was given a gift subscription to your magazine by the widow of Fayez Sayegh and am saddened each month to realize how neglected these topics are in the mainstream media. Americans are simply not allowed to understand. Arlene Sayegh, a woman in her mid-80s now, is distraught thinking that her husband’s lifetime work will count for nothing. Keep up your wonderful work. M.J. Ogden, adjunct professor, Weber State University, Ogden, UT Thank you for correcting our error—now please excuse us while we wipe the egg off our face. You are indeed correct that the man on the left is John Foster Dulles, shaking hands with Lessing Rosenwald, and that in 1953 Dulles was President Eisenhower’s secretary of state. Four years later, as Congress objected to Eisenhower pressuring Israel to leave Sinai, Dulles complained that the “Israeli Embassy is practically dictating to the 5

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Congress through influential Jewish people in the country” (see again Fifty Years of Israel, a compilation of Neff’s columns for the Washington Report). You might also be interested to read Publisher Andrew I. Killgore’s “In Memoriam” of Dr. Fayez Sayegh written on the 25th anniversary of his death (see December 2005 Washington Report, p. 22). Clearly Arlene Sayegh is establishing a legacy of her own, and we thank her.

tion toward ending the conflict by accepting a Palestinian state as laid out in former U.N. Resolutions 181 and 242. Now I would like to raise the issue of those of us who are critical of Israeli policies and conduct and for such are then falsely accused of anti-Semitism by the likes of Abe Foxman and others like Gerardo Joffe, the financial supporter of the FLAME ads that regularly appear in various publications like The Nation. Anti-Semitic conduct has been criminalized to A Regular Beacon some extent in this country, and justly so, Enclosed is my annual contribution of $500 but for rabid supporters of the state of Isto help fund the continuing publication of rael to level the charge of anti-Semitism your fine magazine. Although other major against those of us who have the courage to periodicals like National Geographic on oc- stand up to the wrongful, and at times casion print articles revealing the true state criminal, conduct being perpetrated by of affairs that exist today between the Is- the IDF and Israeli settlers against West raeli occupiers of the West Bank and Gaza Bank indigenous Palestinian residents and and the persecuted and oppressed Palestin- then be accused of being anti-Semitic is ian populations of both areas, it is only pernicious and repugnant, and should be your fine publication that acts as a regular addressed as such by all of us. Perhaps one beacon to all of us who continue to hold of your fine contributing writers like out faith that some day this country will Rachelle Marshall, whom Mr. Joffe spoke wake up to the sad state of affairs that ex- rather disparagingly of to his writer, ists in Israel-Palestine and takes affirmative would be willing to tackle such an issue. action to see that it is ended. Such action on You may find the enclosed copy of my letthe part of the U.S. would be the finest for- ter to Mr. Joffe of some interest. eign policy achievement on the part of any In any event, I wish you continuing president, and I for one look fervently for- good luck in your endeavors and wish you ward to that day. For it is quite clear, as re- much success. Until that day when this vealed by one of the former heads of Shin country finally awakens from its slumber Bet in the documentary “The Gatekeepers,” and when our Congress finally agrees to that no Israeli leader from Ben-Gurion for- conduct a full investigation into the June ward, with the exception of Rabin, has ever 8, 1967 IDF attack upon the USS Liberty, I had any true intention of supporting the remain, sincerely yours, creation of a Palestinian state. Only internaJack E. Love, San Diego, CA tional pressure led by this country will FLAME’s Gerardo Joffe used to write this compel the Israelis to take affirmative ac- magazine fairly often, and we printed several of his letters with their thin veneer of civility — until Other Voices is an optional readers objected 16-page supplement available that we were wasting valuable space. only to subscribers of the (As the previous Washington Report on letter demonstrates, our readers Middle East Affairs. For an adoften know more ditional $15 per year (see than we do!) In your case, we sugpostcard insert for Wash gest that you might ington Re port subscripbe wasting valuable time. Joffe tion rates), subscribers will seems particularly receive Other Voices bound into each issue of their incensed that JewWashington Report on Middle East Affairs. ish Americans such as Rachelle Back issues of both publications are available. To subMarshall and scribe telephone 1 (888) 881-5861, fax (714) 226-9733, Allan Brownfeld are loyal to their e-mail <>, or write to P.O. Box own country rather 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. t h a n a fo r e i g n state, and to what 6


Marshall describes as “every principle that Judaism stands for.” We might also add that readers have written us over the years objecting to the fact that the Nation continues to run FLAME’s inaccurate and misleading ads. Several have even cancelled their subscriptions as a result—but as a fellow publication we prefer that Nation readers use words, not dollars, to keep the pressure on.

The Michigan—Now Meta— Peace Team We are long-time subscribers and greatly appreciate the work you are doing. We have also made gift subscriptions to help spread the truth that U.S. media ignores both deliberately and from fear of losing business, as well as ignorance and pressure groups. We have purchased olive oil from you and we try to alternate purchases from you and the Michigan Peace Team. We sometimes purchase from them. They have been in many nonviolent demonstrations in the West Bank and help pick olives and help pregnant mothers pass through the checkpoints to get to hospitals. They have very often risked their lives to stand with the people of the West Bank and Gaza. We thought you should be aware of the work of this organization. They have sponsored many meetings at churches around Michigan, such as the evening with Rachel Corrie’s parents and family and many other banquets featuring Palestinian speakers. They are very aware of the truth as to what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza. I’m enclosing a little brochure that comes with every bottle of olive oil they sell. (You might want to consider it on your oil.) I am also enclosing a $20 donation to help keep your great work alive. We hope to give more in the future. Carl and Deanna Karoub, Northville, MI We are indeed aware of the Michigan Peace Team’s outstanding work. In fact, our August 2005 issue included an article entitled “Snapshots From Palestine,” featuring the impressions of four Michigan Peace Team (MPT) members who visited Palestine that spring. More recently, one of the “Waging Peace” items in our March 2011 issue described the visit to Iowa by two of its members. In fact, we see that the team has changed its name to Meta Peace Team, after the Greek word meaning “transcending.” As the new MPT explained on its website, “MPT has ALWAYS been active outside these [state] borders...Michigan just happens to be where we were founded.” We thank you for the opportunity to introduce more of our readers to this wonderful organization, and to encourage many visits to MPT’s new website, <>. ❑ MAY 2013

publishers_7_May 2013 Publishers page 4/4/13 2:05 PM Page 7

American Educational Trust

Publishers’ Page

That President Barack Obama spoke to Palestinian university students in Ramallah—or was it Bethlehem, Hebron or Gaza City? In our dream the president reminded them that, for decades, the word sumud (holding fast, perseverance) has defined Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation. He urged Palestinians to remain steadfast in their nonviolent struggle for justice, and to continue to face their oppressors with courage, dignity and love. Be human, he urged them. Don’t give up. You deserve freedom and equality. Future historians will pause and say, “There lived a great people—the Palestinian people—who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.”

Then We Woke Up… And heard what Obama really said (see this issue’s “Three Views,” pp. 10 to 14), as Israel continued its provocative, deadly— and inhuman—behavior. Upon his arrival in Tel Aviv on March 20, Obama could have expanded his “listening tour” into a “learning tour” if he had gone directly to the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, where dozens of Palestinians and their supporters, children and adults alike, marched down Shuhada Street, the main street forbidden to Arabs for more than a decade. Demonstrators wearing Obama and Martin Luther King masks spoke out against the segregation of Palestinians and Israelis in the city, and called on the U.S. president to take action against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. One carried a sign reading: “We have a dream. End Apartheid in Hebron. Open Shuhada Street.”

Hebron Streets for Jews Only. Palestinians are not allowed to walk or drive on many of Hebron’s main roads. A street leading to the Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi, Islam’s fourth holiest site (also known as Tomb of the Patriarchs), now has a chain-link fence dividing the road lengthwise. The paved road is for Jews, and the narrow, unpaved sidewalk for Palestinians. It ends in a small staircase, impassable for wheelchairs and difficult for anyone with a baby carriage, pushcart or bike.

“Obama, Come Here to Hebron,” Shouted Issa Amro, a local organizer of Youth Against Settlements, in English. “I am Obama,” he added as a young Jewish settler, perhaps 12 years old, snatched the cardMAY 2013


We Had a Dream…

Residents of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, remember Rachel Corrie on the 10th anniversary of her death, March 16, 2013.

board Obama mask from Amro’s face, crumpling it into his back pocket. Within minutes, Israeli soldiers shoved Amro to the ground. He rose briefly, only to be knocked down again, then dragged off to detention. Witnesses saw soldiers beating Palestinians and dragging them into side streets, away from observers, and journalists.

Israeli Soldiers Arrest 27 Children. Following the protest and an alleged stonethrowing incident, Israeli soldiers detained 27 children on their way to school in Hebron, hauling off at least 14 boys under the age of 12, including some as young as 8 to 10. International activists shot video of soldiers tearing children away from clinging relatives, who were arguing and pleading with them not to take the boys away. Israeli soldiers wrestled frightened children to the ground, then dragged them to a truck. Under Israeli law it is illegal to detain or transport minors under the age of 12. The Israeli Youth Law also requires that a parent or adult be present during the interrogation of child suspects. But that law does not apply to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

Children Suffer in Israeli Prisons. An editorial published in the March 16, 2013 issue of The Lancet, the world’s leading general medical journal, made an appeal to protect the rights of Palestinian children detained in Israeli prison camps. “In the past 10 years,” it reported, “around 7,000 Palestinian children, aged 12-17 years, have been detained, interrogated, prosecuted, or imprisoned within the Israeli military justice system.” Most are children detained for THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

throwing stones. The Lancet editorial cited a new UNICEF study, Children in Israeli Military Detention: Observations and Recommendations, which found that Palestinian children in Israeli prisons “are exposed to intimidation, physical and verbal abuse, and death threats. Some children have been put in solitary confinement, which is associated with serious adverse physical and psychiatric consequences such as insomnia, hallucinations, and mental illnesses.” The Lancet editorial concludes: “Detained Palestinian children should be treated in accordance with international law and standards, with absolute prohibition of torture and all forms of other ill treatment, without exception.”

Separate and Unequal Buses. Israelis often object to the use of the word “apartheid” to describe life in the West Bank—its settlers-only roads, water supplies, electricity grids, courts and schools. Even on public buses the pretense of equality has now disappeared, after Jewish settlers in Ariel, in the northern occupied West Bank, claimed they were frightened to share buses with Palestinian laborers traveling to and from their jobs. On March 5, Israel’s Transportation Ministry rolled out a solution: separate bus lines for Jews and Arabs. “This is what apartheid looks like,” wrote Zehava Galon, a Meretz party lawmaker, on her Facebook page. “Separate bus lines for Palestinians and Jews prove that democracy and occupation…

Can’t Coexist.” Please Help Us Continue… To publish this magazine and report on stories the mainstream media want you to miss. Like the Palestinians pictured above, Tom Shaker, Gregory DeSylva and their friends in upstate New York can’t forget Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Americanmade Israeli bulldozer while protecting a home in Gaza from demolition. For the past 10 years, on the anniversary of her death, the men have placed an “In Memoriam” in the Poughkeepsie Journal obituaries. (We now have a “special topics” section on our website with resources on Rachel Corrie, the USS Liberty, and other subjects.) We applaud this and every individual act of sumud, and hope you’ll send this issue’s postcard to your elected representatives so that, together, we can all…

Make a Difference Today! 7

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Obama Reaches Out to Israelis, but With The Wrong Message SpecialReport


By Rachelle Marshall

Relatives of Maisara Abu Hamdiya, who died of cancer while in Israeli detention, gather as his body is carried outside a mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, April 4, 2013. The West Bank simmered with anger as thousands of Palestinians joined for his funeral and for the funeral of two teenagers shot and killed by Israeli soldiers near Tulkarem overnight. hose who predicted that President

TBarack Obama’s long awaited trip to Is-

rael in late March would do nothing to further the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians were justified in their pessimism. Almost immediately on his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, he said,“I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations.” While still on the tarmac he inspected an array of Iron Dome missiles, which had cost the U.S. nearly $1 billion. Again and again during his visit, Obama assured the Israelis that he would do whatever is necessary to protect them from their enemies. With a disregard for complex realities reminiscent of George W. Bush’s 2002 “axis of evil speech,” he called Hezbollah “a terrorist organization that murders innocent civilians.” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he said, “would Rachelle Marshall is a free-lance editor living in Mill Valley, CA. A member of Jewish Voice for Peace, she writes frequently on the Middle East. 8

rather kill his own citizens than relinquish power.” Iran, a country crippled by sanctions, “is not simply a challenge for Israel—it is a danger to the entire world.” During the next two days Obama sounded like a fervent Zionist, referring to Israelis as “the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah” and invoking “the Jewish people’s 3,000-year history in this land.” In a speech in Jerusalem on March 21 that Israeli writer Yossi Halevi called “a love song to Israel,” Obama said, “The dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea—to be a free people in your homeland.” He even compared the early Zionists to American pioneers, omitting the fact that both had realized their dream by violently displacing the people who were already there. At his press conference in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama praised Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for reducing corruption and building the institutions of a Palestinian state. He endorsed a two-state solution, saying, “The Palestinians deserve a state of their THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

own.” But instead of offering a plan for establishing such a state, he urged the Palestinians to go back to the bargaining table without preconditions. Meanwhile, he said, the two sides must “take steps that can build trust and confidence that peace requires.” Palestinians, who have witnessed two decades of failed negotiations while Israel swallowed up more and more of their land, had a right to be skeptical. The day before Obama arrived, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu repeated his refusal to stop building settlements or negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders. Palestinians must also wonder how they can build trust with Israel while its soldiers continue to break into their homes at night and take away their sons and husbands. The most charitable explanation of Obama’s refusal to call for a settlement freeze is that he knew his words would fall on deaf ears. Five days before the president arrived in Jerusalem, Netanyahu had formed a governing coalition that promises to be at least as unyielding as the last when it come to dealing with the Palestinians. Israel’s new minister of finance, Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party, favors retaining the major West Bank settlement blocs and opposes any division of Jerusalem. Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, whose right-wing Jewish Home party represents the settlers, favors Israel’s annexation of large portions of the West Bank. “There is no occupation in our land,” he said recently. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has been replaced by Moshe Ya’alon, a hard-line former army commander who, like Lapid and Bennett, has expressed skepticism about the possibility of peace with the Palestinians. Hanan Ashrawi, a longtime member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, called the new coalition “a right-wing hard-line government that does not bode well for chances of peace.” Obama’s decision to remain on the sidelines means that Israel and its U.S. supporters will continue to saddle Washington with a Middle East policy that arouses hostility in the region and endangers America’s real interests. For only the third time since 1977, the ultra-Orthodox parties have been left out of the government. They have vowed to maintain a vigorous opposition, however, since Lapid and Bennett favor integrating their members into the army and ending their control of marriage, divorce and conversion MAY 2013

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to Judaism. Faced with the deep division between ultra-Orthodox and secular Israelis, Netanyahu is expected to maintain unity by means of the tried-and-true tactic used by past Israeli leaders: raising fears of a foreign enemy and warning that Israel’s existence is in peril—this time from Iran. While Obama was praising the Israelis as freedom lovers, and promising them unstinting U.S. support, movie viewers around the world were getting a darker view of Israel from a remarkable film called “The Gatekeepers,” one of this year’s nominees for an Academy Award. The Israeli-made documentary consists of interviews with six retired heads of Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency, who candidly describe the brutalities inflicted on the Palestinians during their terms of office. “We are making the lives of millions unbear- A journalist and an elderly woman flee tear gas fired by Israeli troops during “Land Day” demonable,” Carmi Gillon, head of Shin Bet strations near the Qalandia checkpoint outside Ramallah, March 30, 2013. from 1994 to 1996, says in the film. Gillon’s statement still applies. As Pales- with the lives of our children. They are Negotiators at the February talks on Iran’s tinians in late February were protesting Is- confronting children and killing them with nuclear program between Iran and the 5 perrael’s indefinite detention of prisoners live ammunition. We will not allow our manent members of the U.N. Security Counwithout trial, one such prisoner, 30-year- prisoners to remain in the occupation jails cil plus Germany reported that Iran was more old Arafat Jaradat, died under torture. The all their lives for things they did not com- flexible than in the past, and Iran’s chief neautopsy showed that Jaradat, the father of mit.” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s re- gotiator, Saeed Jalili, called the talks “a turntwo small sons, had suffered two broken sponse was to demand that Palestinian ing point.” Both sides agreed to continue ribs, injuries to his face, and severe bruis- leaders restore calm. meeting until an agreement was reached. Aning of his shoulder, neck and spine. He The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem advised alysts agree that what is needed now is an efhad been arrested for stone throwing. American travelers to stay away from the fort to build trust between the two sides, but Israel is currently holding 178 Palestini- West Bank and “avoid large crowds.” But Congress is seeing to it this will not happen. ans in a state of limbo, some of them having neither the deaths of Palestinian prisoners Hours after the latest negotiating sesbeen in prison for years without learning under interrogation, nor the army’s shoot- sion, a bipartisan group of legislators inthe evidence against them or when they ing of Palestinian teenagers, aroused any troduced bills that would impose a commight be released. Hassan Karajah, a youth expression of concern from Washington. prehensive trade embargo on Iran by organizer for Stop the Wall Campaign, has On the contrary, at the annual AIPAC Con- lengthening the list of blacklisted Iranian been held without charges since Jan. 22, vention in Washington, DC on March 2, companies and penalizing foreign compawhen Israeli soldiers burst into his home Vice President Joseph Biden assured nies that violate U.S. sanctions. The bills and took him away after ransacking it. Since 13,000 cheering Israel supporters of are certain to pass and just as certain to then he has been kept in a windowless cell Obama’s “unshakable commitment to Is- harden the Iranians’ resistance to what roughly two yards by two yards and inter- rael’s military superiority in the region.” they have called a gun held to their heads. rogated 14 hours a day while shackled and At the same time he emphasized Even more dangerously ill-advised is a cuffed to a small chair. On March 2, two Obama’s determination to use military proposed congressional resolution requiring days after his arrest, 40-year-old Aymn Abu force if necessary to stop Iran from acquir- the U.S. to go to Israel’s support if it decides Sufian died of unknown causes. ing a nuclear weapon. “President Barack to take military action against Iran in “selfMeanwhile, inhabitants of the prolifer- Obama is not bluffing,” he told the con- defense.” The resolution, repeating the ating Jewish settlements on the West Bank vention. Netanyahu, speaking via satellite, pledge Obama made while in Israel, would continue to terrorize neighboring villagers. followed up by declaring that “diplomacy make the U.S. military hostage to triggerOn Feb. 23, a band of Jewish settlers in- has not worked.” happy Israeli leaders whose concept of selfvaded the village of Kusra, firing their The next day the AIPAC members fanned defense more often than not resembles guns and ordering farmers to leave their out to their members of Congress to make naked aggression. Israel used self-defense to land. When neighbors came out to protest, sure the aid package the U.S. gives Israel justify its wars against Egypt and Syria in the settlers shot 14-year-old Mustafa Hilal every year is spared the cuts required by the 1967, and its invasions of Lebanon in 1982 and 24-year-old Helmi Abdul Aziz. During sequestration. There was no need to worry. and 2006. The Israeli army’s invasion of the the same week, Israeli soldiers using live The cuts will eliminate unemployment ben- West Bank in 2002 that laid waste to courtbullets fired on demonstrators in Bethle- efits to 3.8 million Americans, and reduce houses, libraries, factories and power lines hem and wounded two teenagers. nutritional aid for 600,000 poor women and was called “Operation Defensive Shield.” President Abbas, in a rare outburst of children, but the $4 billion-plus in aid the Most recently, Israel claimed its sustained Continued on page 15 anger, declared, “We will not let them play U.S. gives Israel every year is untouchable. MAY 2013



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Three Views


Obama’s Visit to Israel

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Palestinian children during a visit to the Church of the Nativity in the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, March 22, 2013.

What Was Wrong With Obama’s Speech in Jerusalem By Richard Falk

t was master-crafted as an ingratiating Ileader speech by the world’s most important and the government that has most consistently championed Israel’s cause over the decades. Enthusiastically received by the audience of Israeli youth, and especially by liberal Jews around the world. Despite the venue, President Barack Obama’s words in Jerusalem on March 21 seemed primarily intended to clear the air somewhat in Washington. Obama may now have a slightly better chance to succeed in his second legacy-building presidential term despite a deeply polarized U.S. Congress and a struggling American economy, if assessed from the perspective of workers’ distress rather than on the basis of robust corporate profits. Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar and currently the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. This article was first posted on his blog, <http://richardfalk.word>, March 24, 2013. 10

As for the speech itself, it did possess several redeeming features. It did acknowledge that alongside Israeli security concerns “Palestinian people’s right of self-determination, their right to justice must also be recognized.” This affirmation was followed by the strongest assertion of all: “..put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes.” To consider the realities of the conflict through Palestinian eyes is to confront the ugly realities of prolonged occupation, annexationist settlement projects, an unlawful separation wall, generations confined to the misery of refugee camps and exile, second-class citizenship in Israel, ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, and a myriad of regulations that make the daily life of Palestinians a narrative of humiliation and frustration. Of course, Obama did not dare to do this. None of these realities were specified, being left to the imagination of his audience of Israeli youth, but at least the general injunction to see the conflict through the eyes of the other pointed the way toward empathy and reconciliation. Obama also encouraged in a helpful way Israeli citizen activism on behalf of a just peace based on two states for two peoples. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

A bit strangely, he urged that “for the moment, put aside the plans and process” by which this goal might be achieved, and “instead…build trust between people.” Is this not an odd bit of advice? It seems a stretch to stress trust when the structures and practice of occupation are for the Palestinians unremittingly cruel, exploitative, and whittle away day after day at the attainability of a viable Palestinian state. But this farfetched entreaty was coupled with a more plausible plea: “I can promise you this: Political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks. You must create the change that you want to see. Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.” There is some genuine hope to be found in these inspirational words, but to what end, given the present situation? In my opinion the speech was deeply flawed in three fundamental respects: • by speaking only to Israeli youth, and not arranging a parallel talk in Ramallah to Palestinian youth, the role of the United States as “dishonest broker” was brazenly confirmed; it also signaled that the White House was more interested in appealing to the folks in Washington than to those Palestinians trapped in the West Bank and Gaza, an interpretation reinforced by laying a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl but refusing to do so at the tomb of Yasser Arafat. This disparity of concern was further exhibited when Obama spoke of the children of Sderot in southern Israel, “the same age as my own daughters, who went to bed at night fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom simply because of who they are and where they live.” To make such an observation without even mentioning the trauma-laden life of children on the other side of the border in Gaza who have been living for years under conditions of blockade, violent incursions, and total vulnerability year after year is to subscribe fully to the one-sided Israeli narrative as to the insecurity being experienced by the two peoples. • by speaking about the possibility of peace based on the two-state consensus, the old ideas, without mentioning developments that have made more and more people skeptical about Israeli intentions is to lend credence to what seems more and more to be a delusionary approach to resolving the conflict. Coupling this with Obama’s perverse injunction to the leaders MAY 2013

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of the Middle East that seems willfully oblivious to the present set of circumstances makes the whole appeal seem out of touch: “Now’s the time for the Arab world to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel.” How can now be the time, when just days earlier Binyamin Netanyahu announced the formation of the most rightwing, pro-settler government in the history of Israel, selecting a cabinet that is deeply dedicated to settlement expansion and resistant to the very idea of a genuine Palestinian state? It should never be forgotten that the Palestinian Liberation Organization announced back in 1988 that it was prepared to make a sustained peace with Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders. By doing this, the Palestinians were making an extraordinary territorial concession that has never been reciprocated. The move meant accepting a state limited to 22 percent of historic Palestine, or less than half of what the U.N. had proposed in its 1947 partition plan contained in General Assembly Resolution 181. To expect the Palestinians to be willing now to accept less than these 1967 borders to reach a resolution of the conflict seems unreasonable, and probably not sustainable. • endorsing the formula of two states for two peoples was consigning the Palestinian minority in Israel to permanent second-class citizenship without even being worthy of mention as a human rights challenge facing the democratic Israel that Obama was celebrating. As David Bromwich has pointed out in his “Tribalism in the Jerusalem speech” post on Mondoweiss, Obama was also endorsing a tribalist view of statehood that seems inconsistent with a globalizing world, and with secularist assumptions that the state should not be exclusivist in either religious or ethnic character. The core Zionist idea of a statist homeland where all Jews can most fully embrace their Jewishness: “Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own.” Such a regressive approach to identity and statehood was also by implication attributed to the Palestinians, also affirmed as entitled. But this is highly misleading, a false symmetry. The Palestinians have no guiding ideology that is comparable to Zionism. Their quest has been to recover rights under international law in the lands of their habitual residence, the exercise of the right of self-determination in such a manner as to roll back the wider claims of settler colonialism so grandiosely part of the vision and practice of the Netanyahu government. Indeed, Obama’s speech was also an affront to many Israeli post-Zionists MAY 2013

and secularists who do not affirm the idea of living in a hyper-nationalist state with pretensions of religious endowments. In my view, there are two conclusions to be drawn: (1) Until the rhetoric of seeing the realities of the situation through Palestinian eyes is matched by a consideration of the specifics, there is created a misleading impression that both sides hold equally the keys to peace, with both being at fault to the same extent for being unwilling to use them. (2) It is a cruel distraction to urge a resumption of negotiations when Israel clearly lacks the political will to establish a Palestinian state within 1967 borders and in circumstances in which the West Bank has been altered by continuous settlement expansion, settler-only roads, the separation wall, and all the signs are suggesting that there is more of the same to come. Making matters even worse, Israel is taking many steps to ensure that Jerusalem never becomes the capital of whatever Palestinian entity eventually emerges. In retrospect, worse than speech was the visit itself. Obama should never have undertaken such a visit without an accompanying willingness to treat the Palestinian reality with at least equal dignity to that of the Israeli reality and without some indication of how to imagine a just peace based on two states for two peoples given the severe continuing Israeli encroachments on occupied Palestinian territory that give every indication of permanence. Obama made no mention of the wave of recent Palestinian hunger strikes or the degree to which Palestinians have shifted their tactics of resistance away from a reliance on violence. It is perverse to heap praise on the oppressive occupier and then call on both peoples to move forward toward peace by building relations of trust with one another. On what planet has Mr. Obama been living?

Obama Put the Ball in Israel’s Court By Abdeen Jabara

e have to make sense and progress W out of what we have before us; and overall, Obama’s trip was positive. I’ll tell you why. As far as the recognition of the Zionist atachment to the land, and the history of Abdeen Jabara, a civil rights attorney in New York, helped found the American-Arab AntiDiscrimination Committee. He can be reached at <>. This transcript of his phone conversation with Mondoweiss editor Philip Weiss was first posted on <>, March 25, 2013. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Zionists in Israel, a lot of that was boilerplate. And actually he’s not saying anything that has not been accepted by most of the Arab countries, if not all of them, in their Arab Peace Initiative, where they said that they would recognize Israel if it returned to the 1967 armistice lines and shared Jerusalem with the Palestinians and had some kind of fair resolution of the refugee problem. The Arab League is not calling for Israel not to be a Zionist state. They’re not saying that they wouldn’t welcome it if it were not Zionist, but they’re not making that a demand. And there is absolutely no publicity in this country about that Peace Initiative, taken by the Arab League and reaffirmed time and again. The larger strategic issue here is that Obama had two major tasks before him when he was elected in 2008. Those were, one, the economy tanking, and two, the security situation in this country. He picked up from the wars that Bush had been waging all over the Muslim world; and so the situation between the Muslims and the U.S. was getting worse, not better. Obama understood that this war against what Bush liked to call radical Islam—I don’t use that word, but that’s the word they use, though Obama doesn’t say that, he talks about extremists—he had to pick up from this, and he knows that 99 percent of this so-called war has to be a political one. He knows that Muslims are angry with the United States, and one of the great sources of that anger is the United States’ support for the oppression of the Palestinians, so one of the first things he did when he was elected, he went to Cairo. The person who wrote that speech for Obama is still in place, and is still advising him on Israel and still writing [Ben Rhodes]. So they know that they have got a real problem with Muslims around the world. I dug something up that gives you the Israeli context. That was an interview with Shimon Peres back in January in The New York Times [by Ronen Bergman]. It’s absolutely kind of astounding when you look at it in terms of this trip and in terms of Obama’s attitude. He talks about the breakdown between Netanyahu and Obama in the first term. Peres says, “[Netanyahu] may do nothing, but that doesn’t mean that things won’t be done. This idea, that history is a horse that can be held by the tail, is a foolish idea. After all, the fire can be lit in an instant: another word, another shot, and in the end everyone will lose control. If there is no diplomatic decision, the Palestinians will go back to terror. Knives, mines, suicide attacks. The silence that Israel has been enjoying over the last few years will 11

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not continue, because even if the local inhabitants do not want to resume the violence, they will be under the pressure of the Arab world. Money will be transferred to them, and weapons will be smuggled to them, and there will be no one who will stop this flow. Most of the world will support the Palestinians, justify their actions, level the sharpest criticism at us….” This language is the background for what Obama said. He said there’s no wall that you can build that’s high enough and no Iron Dome that’s going to be effective enough to make your fortress impenetrable. He could have been saying that about the United States. He could have been saying there’s no homeland security and no army and no FBI roundup of suspects and no Guantanamo that’s going to make us secure enough unless there’s political movement. Though he can’t come out and say, I think this Israeli-Palestinian peace is a matter of American national security. He cannot say that politically. What that would be saying was, Osama bin Laden succeeded. But that is really the understanding that he’s proceeding upon. Listen to what Peres says later on: “President Obama thinks that peace should be made with the Muslim world. We, the State of Israel, do not appear to be thinking along those lines. We must not lose the support of the United States.” Why does he think that? We have to ask ourselves. He knows what’s driving Obama, and he also knows what’s driving Netanyahu. Peres again: “The problem is that Obama would like to reach peace in the Middle East and has to be convinced that Israel agrees with this.” So Obama could have proceeded on this whole issue in two different ways. He could have engaged with more tough love with Israel, because that would satisfy people like us. But there is no question that Israel has bipartisan support in the United States, and there’s a lot of reasons for that, and as Obama said, he has to deal with that fact. Support for Israel is part of the political culture of this country now. You don’t have an Eisenhower in office. Although there’s been a lot of attempts to make some analogy between Eisenhower and Obama, when Israel invaded the Sinai in ‘56, Eisenhower said, I don’t care what power Israel has, they have to withdraw, and I will cut off the tax-exempt status of Israeli fundraising in the United States. Well Obama doesn’t think he has that kind of political space. He has some, but he doesn’t have that kind of political space. Still, he has lots of political tools that he is using. Money from USAID went into making [the film] “5 Broken Cameras.” Did you know that? That’s remarkable. There is an effort 12

underway, an official effort to demonstrate the difficulty of the life that Palestinians have under occupation. This Nabi Saleh piece in The New York Times magazine section [“Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?” by Ben Ehrenreich], the fact that it appeared when it did, was not happenstance. I mean by that— there are people here in The New York Times, in the government, and outside of the government, who know that in order to resolve this problem, the Palestinian side has to get some airtime. This is particularly true since polls in this country show that the PA [Palestinian Authority] is the third most hated government in the world. And they have to change that. Because in all the rest of the word, Israel is one of the most hated governments. When Obama said to the Israeli young people, who were vetted before they got in there, Do you want to continue to be isolated as a country, he’s also talking about the United States, because the tarbaby relationship that the United States has with Israel has isolated this country and ties its hands enormously, even with its Western partners. There are countries in Western Europe that want to take the initiative for boycott. And so Obama is a juggler. “I’m a politician.” He said it. “I’ll do what I can do, given the constraints that I have, because this is the subtext of everything I’ve done, my first duty is to protect the national security of the United States.” The other subtext of that is, however much we are aligned and entwined and we recognize that we both came out of colonial settlement efforts, because that’s what the United States and Israel are—what he didn’t say is that America’s interests and Israel’s interests are one and the same. He did not say that. And that’s an important thing. He did say that for all intents and purposes, that Israel’s security is tied to America’s security, but those are two different things. A lot of what he said has to be read in light of America’s post-9/11 history. You have to look at the wars that Bush started, the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, what’s happening now in the Middle East with the Arab spring—all of this is weighted down on the Arab-Israeli conflict as well. All Zionists are not the same. People are not prepared to differentiate between them, but there are über Zionists and lesser Zionists. They all want a Jewish state, a Jewish-majority state. But some of them are Jabotinskyites who believe that Israel should have a permanent Iron Wall against the Arab world, while some of them believe that they have to define their borders and become a normal state. And that latter portion knows they can’t do that with an unresolved Palestinian problem. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

And the Palestinians have an ace card. They’re not as weak as you think they are. Because their mere existence and perseverance have given them enormous strength, by placing these two different camps in the Zionist movement in contention about where Zionism’s going. I have a lot of problems with liberal Zionists. But I don’t care if they’re motivated by wanting to maintain a Jewish state. What I care about is whether they will oppose the occupation and support Palestinian rights. Then we get into what are Palestinian rights—all those things that are subject to negotiation. But there’s no military solution to this problem. I can’t repeat that enough. There’s no military solution to this problem. And as bleak as things look, Obama thinks there’s a peaceful resolution. You have to ask yourself: Was Obama lying when he went to the Israeli public and said what he said, that there has to be a viable Palestinian state with contiguous borders? Was he lying, was he insincere, was he just doing this for public consumption without any real genuine belief? I think the answer to that question was no, he was not lying. He has said the same thing consistently, from Cairo to Jerusalem. He knows the ground must be prepared for this. There is a problem when according to polls two-thirds of the Israelis accept a Palestinian state, but they don’t trust the Palestinians. Obama said to them, You can trust Abbas. You have to have some trust in Abbas. So he went there and he said some hard truths. And the question is, will it have an impact on the Israeli body politic? Obama understands a body politic, because he has to deal with it here in this country. Did you read Thomas Friedman today? Even he is worried that the Israelis “don’t get it.” And this is probably the essence of Obama’s trip: him trying to get them to get what he gets; and he has a strategy. Everyone thinks he has some kind of magic wand. But he can’t wave a wand and say, Let there be a Palestinian state, let there be peace. He’s not a magician. But one of his first duties as president, is to advance the security of this country. And he’s not going to do it if this situation is not resolved. Jordan is teetering. Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic has an interview with King Abdullah, and all of these countries are teetering because of the frustration of young people. Young people are driving this whole Arab spring. And they’re frustrated because their countries have not delivered and Arabs and Muslims are not getting any respect. If you read Raphael Patai’s book about the Arab mind—which was used to teach American soldiers going to Iraq how to do torture, using sex and MAY 2013

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nudity and dogs—something that’s essential to Arab culture is dignity and respect. And when it comes to dignity and respect, at the very heart of this turmoil and all this angst and enormous change that’s happening in the Arab world is the Palestine problem. And it has spread out beyond that to the whole of the Muslim world. I’ll never forget, seeing television and some Taliban up in the mountains in Afghanistan, talking about Palestine. They weren’t talking about Karzai. People follow this, and people are intensely political, throughout the Muslim world. My father’s village in Lebanon is incredibly poor, but every home had a shortwave radio in it. They weren’t getting The New York Times, but they sit there and they listen to this stuff that’s going on, and they try and think, how does this relate to us? And they say, Our countries were divided; the Western countries came in and divided us up, and they continue to divide us up. And this Palestine issue has amazing resonance. I went with another attorney over to Lebanon after the Qana massacre [of 1996] to take affidavits from survivors, about 10 years after the event, so as to bring a lawsuit. And I went to my mother’s village to pay a visit. One of my relatives who has a little store in the village said to me, if we fight the Israelis with tanks—and by that he also meant the U.S.—100 percent we’re going to lose. And if we fight them with airplanes, the same. But now we have people who are willing to put suicide vests on! And he was just citing a truism. The truism is that asymmetrical warfare is the last effort by this aroused Muslim polity to assert itself against the West. And you can call it terrorism, you can call it whatever you want, and it doesn’t change the fact that the situation exists, and you’re not going to change it by getting biometric samples of everyone’s eyes coming into the country. When I speak of Obama’s strategy—he’s getting more American Jews on board this peace train. This idea of getting the people involved and pushing peace, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you listen to what he said, he didn’t dis the BDS movement. He didn’t dis nonviolent resistance. He praised it. That’s important. So we’ve got to look at this thing in a very, very careful and holistic fashion. Otherwise if you just take this trip and all you hear are his panegyrics about Zionism and the Jewish struggle, then you’re missing a great deal. I’ll tell you what I think is going to flow from it. I think the U.S. has the map of what they think should be the contours of a settlement, and while Obama says this has to be negotiated between the parties, MAY 2013

and no one can go over the head of the other party, I think Obama has pretty much placed the ball in Israel’s court. That’s an enormous achievement. He’s said that the Israelis have to make the move. They’re the stronger party, because of American support. You’ve got to do something. You cannot allow this stasis. So the Israelis I think are going to come up with something. It probably won’t be something that Abbas can accept, but it’s going to be an enormous advance to what we have now and it will give Americans space to get involved. Remember what Obama said. We don’t need any more incrementalism. That’s incredible. All these other people have all put emphasis on the process. Obama is saying this is the end game. This is beyond the times of releasing a few prisoners, or giving back a few dunams to the PA. This for Obama is the end game. Obama is not going to fall on his sword and have America fall on its sword for Israel. I don’t care what lobby exists in this country. Does that make him an Eisenhower? Not really. Because he doesn’t have the political space to be an Eisenhower. He can only do what he has political space to do. Whether he’s changed the politics of Israel, it’s too early to say. But if this government doesn’t last, and there’s another big shakeup, this Yair Lapid fellow is much more amenable to working out something with the Palestinians. You have to be an optimist. You can’t proceed unless you’re an optimist and think that things can be better. That’s one of the messages that Obama tried to convey when he gave his talk. He told the Israelis, No longer can you sit on the sidelines and hope this thing goes away. It’s not going to go away. And he said, this is needed for Israeli security, and it’s also just; you don’t want to be oppressing these Palestinians. That’s strong language. We haven’t heard anyone do that before: Put yourself in their shoes. Israelis have never done that, put themselves in Palestinian shoes. And of course he’s also talking to American Jews when he says that. Have you read The Pessoptimist? It was written by Emile Habiby, who’s an iconic figure in the Palestinian struggle, because he was a writer, and it was the Israeli Communist party after the Nakba that sustained and allowed the Palestinians in Israel to really maintain any kind of cohesion and hope. Now this Communist Party also supported the partition resolution in 1948, in keeping with the Communists generally, because Russia supported it as well. But in retrospect Palestinians would say that it would have been great if Partition had been effected in the manner it was THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

proposed. Of course you can’t put Humpty Dumpty back on the wall, but I’m a pessoptimist. There’s no absolute justice. There’s not going to be for anyone. Anyone seeking absolute justice should not be involved in this issue, because it’s just not going to happen.

Obama Solves His Israel Problem (if not Palestine’s) By Scott McConnell

bama’s speech to a hand-picked IsO raeli audience in Jerusalem had much good in it, and there are some who devote their professional lives to bringing about a reasonable two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians who consider it the best speech ever made to Israelis by an American president. It was significant that Obama told an Israeli audience in forthright terms that in Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority, they absolutely do have a partner for peace. It was significant that he made a connection between his own children and Palestinian girls he had met in Ramallah earlier—a sort of “de-otherizing” of the Palestinians, who have their own powerful and quite contemporary connection to the land of the Palestine Mandate, which Israelis certainly don’t hear from their own leaders. It was expedient—cowardly is too strong a word—to tell an Israeli audience that Arab countries have regularly refused to recognize and make peace with Israel while failing to mention that there is an offer, from the Arab League, made in 2002 and reaffirmed five years later, to recognize Israel and establish full trade and commercial and every other sort of normal relations in return for a sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders—an offer which Israel has refused thus far to respond to or even acknowledge. And Obama’s assertion that Jews, who have succeeded and excelled in countless circumstances and environs, can only find “true freedom” within the bounds of the Zionist state could actually even sound anti-Semitic if said with the wrong accent. But overall, Obama did what he reasonably could to make Israelis feel he respects and understands them. Whether or not his innermost sentiments are as saccharine as those he expressed, such expressions are a requirement of American politics, and Obama showed, once again, that he is a very good politician. Scott McConnell is a founding editor of The American Conservative. This article was first posted on <www.theamericanconserva>, March 22, 2013. 13

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Were there more subtle messages in the structure of the speech? Obama stressed America’s unconditional, eternal support for the Jewish state, but with a twist: that this would be not enough to save Israel from diplomatic isolation, nor to ensure its security. After touching on the fact of Israel’s military and technological strength, and the extent of American military cooperation, the Iron Dome, and everything else, Obama stated bluntly that Israel will not be secure unless it makes peace. Many in the Arab world despise Israel, and the way to begin to reverse this is straightforward: “Progress with the Palestinians is a powerful way to begin.” In other words, though America “has Israel’s back” as he has said a million times in the campaign, if Israel wants to reverse the undertow of isolation it faces and find a secure place for itself in the region, it will have to make peace. There is no other way. He made the point more gently, couching it in so many “I love everything about Israel” flourishes that it might have been missed, but it was there. But will the speech—good in many ways—make any difference? I doubt it. There may well be a critical mass, possibly even a majority, of Israeli university students who could find Obama’s argument persuasive. But Israel has just chosen, by relatively democratic means, a government committed to expanding settlements on the West Bank. Some new cabinet ministers are committed to annexing the West Bank, thus formalizing Israel’s status as an apartheid state. Netanyahu himself has voiced his nominal interest in “two states” but virtually no one familiar with his history and beliefs believes him at all interested in proposing anything more than bantustans for the Palestinians. By committing America to love Israel forever and unconditionally Obama may have blunted the barbs hurled his way by the Israel lobby. By making a powerful strategic and moral argument about peace to the Israeli people, he may be able to say to himself that he has done at least something to merit his Nobel Peace Prize. But asking the Israeli people to push their government to make peace is really little more than a way of making a nice populist sounding noise while doing nothing. Without American diplomatic pressure, without Israel being forced to recognize there will be serious negative consequences for its West Bank seizure—and Obama has more or less promised none would be ever forthcoming, ever—he is asking an Israeli peace camp to do the impossible. Peace is unlikely to come of it. But if things turn out poorly for Israel in the next generation, Obama will be able to say “I told you so.” ❑ MAY 2013

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The Wrong Message… Continued from page 9

round-the-clock bombing assaults on Gaza in 2008-9 and November 2012 were aimed at stopping Palestinian rocket fire. But Barak admitted that the rocket attacks “are a result of our operations, which have resulted in the killing of 20 Hamas gunmen.” Those “gunmen” included six policemen, and the assassinations violated cease-fires that Hamas had unilaterally observed. As head of a government whose financial and diplomatic support Israel relies on, Obama has the means at his command to force a change in Israel’s policies. In fact, given the changes that have taken place in the Middle East in the last two years, Israel is now the only country in the region whose policies the U.S. has the power to affect. This is the reality that both John Kerry and Chuck Hagel face in their new roles as secretary of state and secretary of defense. Hagel won confirmation by the Senate just as Congress was doing its best to sabotage ongoing talks with Iran. But he faces a multiplicity of problems elsewhere as well. The administration has yet to decide how many U.S. soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after 2014, and how to cope with Syria and Egypt, now that they are no longer run by autocrats who could be

relied on to maintain peace with Israel. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, faces challenges to his authority from an opposition that includes secularists, former Mubarak supporters, disaffected youths and jihadists. The often violent protests have hamstrung the government and resulted in a state of chaos that led Egypt’s defense minister, Gen. Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, to warn of the possible collapse of the state. Syria is in far more critical condition, having long since lost any semblance of a functioning state. “The country is breaking up before our eyes,” Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. special representative for Syria, told the Security Council. What began as a popular protest against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad and a harsh response by the government, has evolved into a massively destructive free-for-all that has cost the lives of 70,000 Syrians, and forced more than a million to flee their homes. Two wars are taking place concurrently in the embattled land, one a civil war to oust Assad, and the other a fight between secular rebels, Islamist militias, war lords, and various splinter groups for control of post-Assad Syria. Since Assad and his followers are Alawites, an offshoot of Shi’i Islam, the conflict has increasingly become a struggle between Sunnis and Shi’i. In mid-March a Sunni group called the Is-

lamic State of Iraq killed some 50 Syrian soldiers and civilians who had fled into Iraq for safety. The U.S. is sending food and medical supplies to the Free Syrian Army, and is training Syrian rebels in Jordan, under a covert program run by the CIA, but Obama has wisely resisted pressure to send arms. The safest option for the U.S. is to stay out of conflicts in a region where, as an ally of Israel and the despoiler of Iraq, it is not trusted. White House officials said Obama’s main goal in visiting Israel was ”to connect with the Israeli public.” That being so, instead of buying into their leaders’ paranoia regarding Iran, he should have reminded his listeners that neither Iron Dome missiles nor a powerful military can guarantee their security indefinitely. Obama deserves credit for telling the Israelis, “It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day.” He reminded them that as long as five million Palestinians remain in subjugation and are denied their right to an independent state, the Israelis will be regarded as outcasts in the Middle East and in much of the rest of the world. Now he should deliver that message to Congress and the American people. ❑

A Smaller NATO Force After 2014 Won’t Change the Course of a Lost War CHUCK HAGEL SURVIVED a grueling confirmation process in February only to face equally challenging problems once he took office. On his first official trip abroad he spent three days in Afghanistan, enduring an insurgent attack that rattled the windows of the military compound where he was staying, and confronting a President Hamid Karzai who seems to want nothing so much as to get foreign troops out of his country. That is, he does and he doesn’t. Karzai is well aware that a total NATO withdrawal would mean the loss of large areas of Afghanistan to the Taliban and an end to much of the foreign aid that the Afghan government depends on and that bankrolls much of the corruption that pervades the country. “These are complicated issues,” Hagel told reporters more than once after talking with Karzai. Karzai complains bitterly about NATO attacks that frequently kill civilians, and wants an end to the night raids that so anger Afghan villagers. He has also expressed anger at the brutal tactics of the U.S. Special Operations Forces and the Afghan forces under their command. He has even accused the U.S. of colluding with the Taliban in order to keep Afghanistan unstable and justify keeping U.S. troops in the country. Karzai’s complaints about U.S. forces are said to be aimed at assuring the Afghan people that he is not a lackey of the Americans and objects to NATO’s presence as much as they do. Nevertheless, many of his complaints are justified. During Hagel’s visit a 29-year-old engineering student, Abdul Qayum, gave an interview in which he described his detention and beating by a CIA-backed strike force. The assailants drove into Kandahar University in pickup trucks and took him hooded and handcuffed to an American prison, where he was whipped and kicked while his captors demanded information about members of his village. Karzai has since banned all foreign military forces from Afghan schools and universities. MAY 2013

Most humiliating to Karzai personally was the Americans’ refusal to give up control of the notorious Bagram prison, but rather than jeopardize relations with the Afghan president and in order to assure America’s long-term influence in the region, the U.S. eventually yielded and agreed to turn the prison over to the Afghan government. “We have to look at the larger picture,” a U.S. official said. “What's the U.S. strategic interest here?” The answer to that question, according to the Obama administration, is to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan indefinitely. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “We’re committing to an enduring presence,” and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, promised that the U.S. would “sustain a strategic partnership with Afghanistan.” According to a treaty signed by the U.S. and the Karzai government, U.S. military bases, aircraft, special forces and advisers will remain at least until 2024. Since the Afghan army is still plagued by defections and inefficiency, there is no reason to believe that combined with a smaller number of NATO troops it will be any more effective in fighting the Taliban than it is today. Specialists on the region such as Anatol Lieven and Thomas Ruttig are urging that Obama seek a political solution rather than a military one, using soldiers only in self-defense. In his April 4 article for the New York Review of Books, Lieven argues that a peace settlement would improve America’s image in the Muslim world and reduce tensions with Pakistan. One obstacle that has held up a decision on remaining troop numbers is the Karzai government’s refusal to grant American soldiers immunity from prosecution in Afghanistan. Obama therefore has a perfect excuse to withdraw almost all American soldiers from Afghanistan by 2014, and replace them with diplomats who have knowledge of the country and its history. It is time to end a war that has gone on for 11 —R.M. years and should never have begun.



seale_16-17_Special Report 4/4/13 12:20 PM Page 16

Grave Threats to the Middle East SpecialReport

By Patrick Seale


However, Assad’s overthrow may be no more than the first objective of the new U.S.-Israeli-Turkish coalition. Its wider aim would seem to be to destroy the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah alliance which has managed, over the past 30 years, to impose limits on the regional ambitions of both the United States and Israel. Indeed, the alliance is now under threat, since each of its members finds itself in great difficulty: Iran is under painful economic siege by the United States and under threat of military attack by Israel; Syria is in the throes of a hugely destructive civil war; while Hezbollah, bereft of its two major allies, finds itself on the defensive even in Lebanon, its home territory. In other words, the new U.S.-Israeli-Turkish coalition would seem to be on the verge of achieving a spectacular success which would Lebanese Kurds wave the Kurdish flag and a flag picturing Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan during confirm its status as the domPersian New Year, or Noruz, celebrations in Beirut, March 21, 2013. inant regional axis. However, all is not smooth sailing, since he Middle East is experiencing a pe- versal surprise by U.S. President Barack this new power grouping faces a challenge riod of unusual violence and instabil- Obama during his visit to Israel in March. from a rival Russian-Iranian-Syrian axis ity. Careful observers of the region are well Three years of Israeli-Turkish hostility which—with support from Iraq, China aware that a major restructuring of re- were suddenly brought to an end when, and even from distant Algeria—is detergional power relationships is taking place prompted by Obama, Israel’s Prime Minis- mined to prevent the collapse of the Syrian which, if carried further, could have radi- ter Binyamin Netanyahu apologized for the regime and the emergence of a new consequences. It might even result in a Israeli attack on a Turkish ship, the Mavi (Advertisement) redrawing of the frontiers of the states cre- Marmara, which had sought to break Isated by the Western powers almost a cen- rael’s blockade of Gaza in May 2010. It will tury ago after the defeat of the Ottoman be recalled that Israeli commandos had Every Saturday from 11:00 stormed the ship, killing nine Turks on Empire in the First World War. am/PST (Pacific Standard The present situation is one of great board. Time) to 12 Noon on An immediate result of the Americancomplexity marked by a number of vicious KCAA radio/AM 1050 and overlapping power struggles. Consider brokered reconciliation was the creation of ( for a moment the impact of the Israeli- a U.S.-Israeli-Turkish coalition, united Turkish reconciliation, engineered to uni- around the goal of bringing down PresiHosts: Harry Fear and dent Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus. Kathleen Wells Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on Indeed, on the eve of Obama’s visit to the the Middle East. His latest book is The Middle East, his newly appointed SecreStruggle for Arab Independence: Riad el- tary of State John Kerry had given a clue Solh and the Makers of the Modern Mid- to American objectives when—referring to dle East (Cambridge University Press). Assad’s determination to cling on to Copyright © 2013 Patrick Seale. Distributed power—he had said: “My goal is to see us by Agence Global. change his calculation.”


Palestine Today



MAY 2013

seale_16-17_Special Report 6/19/13 4:30 PM Page 17


dominated system in the Middle East. This power struggle between the two major groupingsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;United States-IsraelTurkey versus Russia-Iran-Syriaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;is by no means the only game in town. For one thing, the partners in the first coalition do not share exactly the same objectives. The United States detests Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s independent stance and wants to bring it to heel, with a view to ending Tehranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s challenge to Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s regional hegemony. Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ambitions are more specific: It is determined to put a stop to Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nuclear activitiesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; which it suspects are not entirely peacefulâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;in order to protect its own regional monopoly of nuclear weapons. As for Turkey, it had ambitious hopes, before the present crisis, of heading a regional grouping to its south composed of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Visas between them were abolished. Turkey evidently hoped to extend this alliance to the Gulf states in the belief that a land route across Syria would help its businessmen win major construction contracts in the affluent oil-rich Gulf. These ambitions have now proved illusory. Instead, Turkey finds itself facing two distinct threatsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;from a huge flood of Syrian refugees and from Syriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ambitious Kurds, who dream of uniting with Turkeyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own Kurds in a bid for regional Kurdish statehood. To head off this threat, Turkey has been making unprecedented overtures to its own Kurds which, if successful, could lead to the release of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from his island prison, where he has languished since his capture in Nairobi (Kenya) by Turkish Special Forces in 1999. In March, on the occa-


sion of the Kurdish New Year, Ocalan called on Kurdish rebels to lay down their arms, a move which seemed to herald a new departure in Kurdish relations with Ankara, and could even lead to the Kurds being given a measure of autonomy in Turkey. Syria lies at the heart of a brutal power play. Its destruction and dismemberment could rewrite the rules of the regional game and might even threaten some of the borders of the new states which emerged after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago. Lebanon, for one, finds itself in extreme danger. Any change of regime in Syria would threaten its fragile stability by upsetting the existing balance of power between its rival communities. Jordan is also under threat. Weak and vulnerable, it has been unable to resist pressures to join the U.S.-IsraeliTurkish campaign against Bashar al-Assad. Indeed, some of Syriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s enemies are now being armed and trained in Jordan. Yet, at the same time, a massive influx of Syrian refugees is threatening Jordanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s precarious internal balance. Indeed, if Israel continues its seizure and settlement of the Palestinian West Bank, Jordan might one day have to cope with a new flood of Palestinian refugees. Every Jordanian remembers the lapidary phrase of the former Israeli leader Ariel Sharon: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jordan is Palestine.â&#x20AC;? It is evident that the region faces a period of enormous turmoil, with potentially far-reaching consequences for its stability and prosperity. Such are the dangers that, instead of fighting each other, the United States and Russia should join in imposing a cease-fire on the warring parties. No doubt




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WWW-USLIMLINKPAPERCOM some extremist groups will want to continue fighting but they should be isolated and curbed, while all those ready to talk should be brought to the conference table. The aim should be to encourage a peaceful change of governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;perhaps even of regimeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;in Damascus, in such a way as to rebuild the shattered country, bring the refugees home and guarantee the protection of Syriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ancient and numerous minorities. If the major powers fail to impose something of this sortâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;with generous financial help from the Gulf states for the rebuilding of Syriaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;it is easy to predict even greater communal violence, the flight of even more refugees, together with the massacre of vulnerable communities. This would not only destroy the Syrian Arab Republic, as we know it, within its present borders, but could have catastrophic consequences for the whole region. â?&#x2018;


Years of Telling the Truth

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avnery_18-19_Special Report 4/3/13 2:50 PM Page 18

To the Victor, the Spoils By Uri Avnery



Netanyahu in the not too distant future. Lieberman has been forced out of the Foreign Office by the law that forbids an indicted person to serve in the government. For many years now, a dark judicial cloud has been hanging over his head. Investigations followed suspicions of huge bribes. In the end, the attorney general decided to content himself with an indictment for fraud and breach of trust: a minor diplomat turned over to Lieberman a secret police dossier concerning his investigation and was awarded an ambassadorship. Netanyahu’s fear of Lieberman induced him to promise that the foreign minister’s post would remain empty until the final judgment in Lieberman’s case. If acquitted, his lofty position will be waiting for him. This may be a unique arrangeIsraeli Finance Minister Yair Lipid (c) with former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who resigned ment. After barring Lapid’s amhis position after being indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust, at the Feb. 5 swearing in of the bition to succeed him, Lieberman declared this week tri19th Knesset. umphantly: “Everyone knows n the days following the recent Israeli ago, this is ideal. He has all a foreign min- that the Foreign Office belongs to the Yiselections, Yair Lapid, the major winner, ister needs: good looks and a photogenic rael Beiteinu party!” That is an interesting statement. It may let it be known that he wanted to be the quality. After all, he made his career on TV. So why did he not become foreign min- be worthwhile pondering its implications. next foreign minister. How can any government office “beNo wonder. It’s a hell of a job. You can’t ister? Why has he let himself be pushed lose, because the foreign minister is re- into the Finance Ministry—a far more long” to a party? In feudal times, the king awarded his nosponsible for nothing. Serious foreign fias- strenuous job, which can make or break a bles hereditary fiefs. Each nobleman was a cos are always laid at the door of the prime politician? Simply because the Foreign Ministry has minor king in his domain, in theory owing minister, who determines foreign policy allegiance to the sovereign but in practice anyway. The foreign minister travels a big sign on its door: Occupied. The last foreign minister, Avigdor often almost independent. Are modern around the world, stays in luxury hotels with gourmet cuisine, has his picture taken Lieberman, was, probably, the least suit- ministries such fiefs “belonging” to the in the company of royalty and presidents, able person for the job in the whole coun- party chiefs? This is a question of principle. Ministers appears almost daily on TV. Sheer paradise. try. He is no Apollo. He has an air of bruFor someone who declares publicly that tality, shifty eyes and spare vocabulary. He are supposed to serve the country and its he wants to become prime minister soon, is unpopular everywhere in the world ex- citizens. In theory, the best man or woman perhaps in a year and a half, this post is very cept Russia and its satellites. He has been suited for the job should be appointed. advantageous. People see you among the avoided throughout by most of his inter- Party affiliation, of course, does play a role. world’s great. You look “prime ministerial.” national colleagues. Many of them con- The prime minister must construct a working coalition. But the uppermost considerMoreover, no experience is needed. For sider him an outright fascist. But Netanyahu is afraid of Lieberman. ation, even in a multi-party democratic reLapid, who entered politics less than a year Without Lieberman’s parliamentary storm public, should be the suitability of the canUri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli troopers, Likud has only 20 seats—just didate for the particular office. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Knessset, is a founder of Gush Shalom one more than Lapid. And within the <>. joint party, Lieberman may well replace Though no elected prime minister should




MAY 2013

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go to the length of Ehud Barak, who displayed an almost sadistic delight in placing each of his colleagues in the ministry he was most unsuitable for. Shlomo Ben-Ami, a gentle history professor, was put into the Ministry of Police (a.k.a. Interior Security), where he was responsible for an incident in which several Arab citizens were shot. Yossi Beilin, a genius bubbling with original political ideas, was sent to the Ministry of Justice. And so on. I remember meeting several of the new ministers at a diplomatic reception soon after. They were all deeply embittered and their comments were of course unprintable. But that was not the point. The point was that by appointing ministers quite unsuitable to the tasks entrusted to them, Barak did great damage to the interests of the state. You don’t entrust your body to a surgeon who is really a lawyer, nor do you entrust your money to a banker who is really a biologist. Yet the idea of political entitlement was hovering over the whole process of forming the cabinet. The awarding of the ministries more closely resembles a dispute among thieves over the spoils than a responsible process of manning or womanning the ministries which will be responsible for the security and well-being of the nation. The quarrel that held up the formation of the new government for several crucial days was over the Ministry of Education. Lapid wanted it for his No. 2, an Orthodox (though moderate) rabbi. The incumbent, Gideon Sa’ar, desperately clung to it, organizing petitions in his favor among teachers, mayors and what not. This could have been a legitimate fight if it had been about questions of education. For example, Sa’ar, a fanatical Likud man, has sent the pupils to religious and nationalistic sites in Greater Eretz Israel, to imbue them with proper patriotic fervor. He is also more intent on his pupils winning international capability tests than on education as such. But nobody spoke about these subjects. It was a simple fight over entitlement. In medieval times, it might have been fought out with lances in a tournament. In these civilized days, both sides use political blackmail. Lapid won. I am not a great admirer of Tzipi Livni and her air of a spoiled brat. But I am happy about her appointment to the Ministry of Justice. Her last two predecessors were intent on destroying the Supreme Court and putting an end to “judicial activism.” (This seems to be a problem in many countries nowaMAY 2013

days. Governments want to abolish the court’s power to annul anti-democratic laws.) Tzipi can be relied on to buttress the Supreme Court, seen by many as “the last bastion of Israeli democracy.” Much more problematical is the appointment of Moshe Ya’alon as minister of defense. He inherited the job because there is just nobody around who could be appointed instead. Israelis take their defense seriously, and you cannot appoint, say, a gynecologist to this job. “Bogy,” as everybody calls him, is a former chief of staff of the army, and a very undistinguished one. Indeed, when he finished the standard three years on the job, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon refused to grant him the almost automatic fourth year. Bogy was bitter and complained that he always had to wear high boots, because of the many snakes in the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff. He may need them again now. His many detractors call him a “bock”— German and Yiddish for a goat, symbolizing a lack of intelligence. He is an extreme militarist, who sees all problems through the sights of a gun. He can be sure of the allegiance of Israel’s vast army of ex-generals (or “degenerals,”’ as I call them). The most problematical appointment of all is the choice of Uri Ariel for the crucial post of minister of housing. Uri Ariel is the arch-settler. He was the founder of a settlement, a leader of the settlers’ organization, the Ministry of Defense official responsible for the settlements. He was also a director of the Keren Kayemet— Jewish National Fund—a major arm of the settlement enterprise. He entered the Knesset when Rehavam Ze’evi, the leader of the extreme-extreme right, was assassinated by a Palestinian hit squad. Turning this ministry over to such a person means that most of its resources will go to a frantic expansion of the settlements, each of which is a nail in the coffin of peace. Yet Lapid supported this appointment with all his new-found political clout, as part of his “brotherhood” bond with Naftali Bennett, who is now the godfather of the settler movement. Bennett’s party also gained the all-important Knesset finance committee, which is needed to funnel the funds to the settlements. It means that the settlers have gained complete control of the state. Lapid’s big election victory may yet be revealed as the biggest disaster for Israel. The brotherhood pact between Lapid and Bennett made it possible for them to blackmail poor Netanyahu and get (almost) THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

everything they longed for. Except the Foreign Ministry. How will Lapid turn out as minister of finance? Difficult to say. Since he is totally innocent of any economic knowledge or experience, he will have to depend on the prime minister above and the ministry bureaucracy below. Treasury officials are a tough lot, with a thoroughly neo-liberal outlook. Lapid himself also adheres to this creed, which is called by many Israelis “swinish capitalism”—a term invented by Shimon Peres. One of Lapid’s main election promises was to put an end to the Old Politics, held responsible for all the ills and ugliness of our political life until now. Instead, he said, there will be the New Politics, an age of shining honesty and transparency, embodied by selfless and patriotic leaders, such as the members of his new party. Not for nothing did he call his party There Is A Future. Well, the Future has arrived, and it looks suspiciously like the Past. Indeed, the New Politics look very much like the Old Politics. Very, very old. Even the ancient Romans are supposed to have said “To the victor, the spoils!” But then, Yair Lapid doesn’t know Latin. ❑ (Advertisement)

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hanley_20-21_Special Report 4/4/13 12:15 PM Page 20

Getting the Words Right: Israel Isn’t Occupying Palestine—It’s Conquered It SpecialReport


By Delinda C. Hanley

Israeli soldiers take pictures of each other in front of Israel’s illegal apartheid wall near the Qalandia checkpoint outside Ramallah, March 30, 2013. Israeli troops earlier had clashed with Palestinian demonstrators commemorating the 37th anniversary of “Land Day.” eople were still talking about President

PBarack Obama’s Jerusalem Convention

Center speech a week later, on March 27, at the Al-Hewar Center in Vienna, VA. The conversation that evening focused on what concerned Americans should do, now that Obama is back, to make U.S. foreign policy more even-handed. Many participants experienced an “Aha! moment” that I’m chagrined to admit was not prompted by the evening’s speaker (this writer). Not surprisingly, it was Clovis Maksoud, 85, the eloquent former ambassador and permanent observer of the League of Arab States at the United Nations, who provided electrifying observations about our careless use of words, during a “brainstorming” discussion after the talk. “There are certain legal issues that Delinda C. Hanley is news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 20

should be clarified before we undertake a campaign to dislodge the United States from its unquestioning support of Israel,” Ambassador Maksoud began. “First, let’s all agree the West Bank is not occupied.” There was a collective gasp, until Maksoud reminded us that in July 2012 a committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy looked at Israel’s legal status in the West Bank and decided Israel is not an occupying power. The Levy Report insisted that the Fourth Geneva Convention—which prohibits an occupier from settling any of its population in an occupied area—is not relevant. That’s because, according to Levy, Israel’s presence in the biblical land it calls Judea and Samaria was taken by conquest. The Levy Report makes it painfully clear that Israelis believe “It is impossible to foresee a time when Israel will relinquish these territories, if ever.” Israelis no longer THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

make an effort to pretend they’re merely occupying Palestinian territory. It’s not a temporary stay. Mainstream right-wing Israelis have proposed annexing most of the West Bank. Israelis have just elected a government which has no intention of leaving the West Bank or Golan Heights, no matter what they say in so-called peace talks. The head of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, a former commando leader, confirmed this stance. “A Palestinian state is not the right way forward,” the newly appointed economy and trade minister declared, dismissing Obama’s calls for an end to the occupation. “Generally, there is no occupation within one’s own land,” Bennett explained. “Bennett has stated publicly what has been the policy of Israel since June 1967 and what the Oslo agreement and subsequent so-called ‘negotiations’ have sought to cover up,” Maksoud argued. “This establishes what has been obscure for a long time—Israel is not an occupying power. It is a conquering power.” So, according to Maksoud, the first word Palestinians and their supporters should toss in the wastebin is occupation. (The Fourth Geneva Convention, of course, applies both to conflicts and occupations.) Another term Maksoud advised friends of Palestine to stop using is to call for a settlement freeze. Maksoud stated: “Settlements should not be frozen. Settlements should be disbanded or dismantled. They’re illegal.” Merely freezing or halting settlement growth implies that existing settlements are somehow acceptable. Settlements, especially in East Jerusalem, are a form of creeping annexation, Maksoud stated. West Bank Settlers should leave or agree to be part of a democratic Palestinian state. The most dangerous terminology of all, Maksoud warned, are the words Jewish state. The Israeli government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is demanding—for the first time—Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. “It’s outrageous to call for a single ethnic or racial nation in the 21st century,” Maksoud emphasized. Imagine the outcry if the United States called itself a white state or a Christian state, or if Egypt decided to become an Islamic state, he added. The first U.S. official to call on Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state was then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, after an Israeli diplomat convinced an aide to slip the phrase into a 2001 speech. A Jewish state ignores the million and a half MAY 2013

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Palestinians living inside the 1948 Israeli borders—a higher percentage than that of African Americans in this country—and the millions of Palestinian refugees outside. Palestinians regard acceptance of the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as giving up their right of return. Most Americans believe that Arabs don’t recognize the right of Israel to exist, but that’s just not true. The Palestine Liberation Organization recognized the State of Israel as part of the Oslo accords in 1993. The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative sought to normalize relations between the entire Arab region and Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Arabs—including Hamas—have come to accept a multi-ethnic democratic Israeli state, but the requirement that it be a Jewish state is recent. Maksoud urged peace activists to focus on pressuring our leaders to drop the phrase Jewish state. Maksoud turned next to the legal status of Gaza. Israel claims it withdrew from Gaza in 2005, even though Tel Aviv continues to exercise control over the area. Israel has declared Gaza a sui generis entity, which means that it cannot be defined in precise legal terms. In 2007 Israel declared the Gaza Strip an “enemy” entity and later, in 2009, a “belligerent” entity, paving the way for border closures, sanctions, a blockade of essential supplies, and even military assaults. “If we’re serious about resuming negotiations it is important to realize that Israel believes the West Bank is a conquered land and Gaza is a belligerent entity, which Israel doesn’t want back,” Maksoud explained. Washington says it’s the responsibility of Palestinian leadership, especially President Mahmoud Abbas, to return to negotiations. Negotiations presume an outcome— in this case, a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. But that is cheating the Palestinian people, because it is now clear that Israel was just talking. It has no intention of having a Palestinian state next door. The Oslo peace process brought 22 years of disappointment, Maksoud concluded, and the situation we’re faced with today. Before we intensify the campaign to educate Americans, it’s essential that those who support Palestinian rights clarify the terms. If serious negotiations are renewed, it’s important to get the legal terms right.

“Consider These Words and Resolve To Drop Them” Former Ambassador Edward Peck has long championed direct, descriptive words to explain Palestine and Israel to Americans, emphasizing that euphemisms and omissions complicate this critical issue. Ambassador Peck submitted a paper on this topic to the International Conference on Jerusalem we both attended in Doha, Qatar on Feb. 26 and 27, 2012. (See May 2012 MAY 2013

Washington Report, p. 26.) His description change for B recognizing A. No one has of the more misleading words employed by ever even mentioned, let alone proposed, virtually everyone on either side of the that Israel should recognize Palestine, issue are paraphrased below. “Consider the but mutual recognition is how it is done. words and then let us resolve to drop them Recognition is given to a state, defined as from the vocabulary,” Peck advised confer- an entity with its territory enclosed by ence attendees. recognized international borders, but no Ending the Conflict: Conflicts are one knows exactly where Israel’s borders fought by nations’ armies across their bor- are now, or where they will be in the fuders. In Palestine there is only one army, ture. and there is no border. It’s ending the ocAmbassador Peck concluded by urging cupation, not the conflict, that must be “constant and careful replacement of those achieved. unfortunate, misleading descriptions with Peace Process: A peace process be- more accurate, powerful, evocative words. tween the occupier and the occupied is an They should accurately describe circumoxymoron, a contradiction in terms, since stances and actions that threaten the stathere is no war, and no conflict, just a bru- bility and future of an entire region and its tal occupation. inhabitants, as well as those far away.” Negotiations: This describes an agreeIsraeli forces attacked and injured Palesment between independent, relatively tinian demonstrators and journalists alike equal parties to discuss how to resolve an in the West Bank and Gaza on the 37th anissue that divides them. Armed guards do niversary of Land Day this year. Protesters not “negotiate” with prostrate prisoners, commemorated the day—March 30, There is not the smallest shred of anything 1976—when Israeli soldiers killed six proeven distantly resembling balance or testers and wounded or jailed hundreds of equality between the two sides, eliminat- other Palestinians living within the 1967 ing any meaningful “negotiations.” borders who resisted Israeli plans to conDirect Talks: Israelis and Palestinians fiscate their private property. If Americans are already in constant, far too often un- and others don’t use the right words, nonpleasant contact. They are not even sepa- Jewish Israeli citizens and Palestinian rated by a border. If Israelis want to talk to refugees will find themselves locked out of Palestinians, they know precisely where their homeland forever. ❑ they are, and exactly (Advertisement) how to get there. It s h o u l d by n ow b e abundantly clear that Israel sees nothing to be gained from “direct talks,” since it can continue doing whatever it wishes under existing CORDIALLY INVITES YOU TO THEIR FUNDRAISING arrangements. Total failure to generate any Reception Benefit truly meaningful results in past sessions 6.30pm, Tuesday 7th May 2013 should be the clincher. Concessions: There Guest Speakers is talk about the need Congressman Chris Van Hollen for Israeli concessions, including ending the ilCongressman Jared Polis legal occupation and inhumane actions and The Fund for American Studies policies surrounding 1706 New Hampshire Avenue NW the occupation. DeWashington, DC 20009 scribing these actions as (0.3 miles from Dupont Circle Metro) “concessions” obscures the real issues and conceals the benefits of security, peace and global acceptance that would accrue to Israel. Recognition: The To Purchase tickets, please contact Mrs. Joyce U.S. and Israel insist Schwartz at that Palestinians recognize Israel—but recognition is reciprocal. A recognizes B in ex-

New Story Leadership



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A Union Struggles to Regain Its Voice Gazaon the Ground


By Mohammed Omer

Trade union leaders Samira Abd El Aleem (l) and Abu Wissam Mahdi. few hundred meters from the smug-

Agling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt

border in Rafah, Samira Abd El Aleem sits in a tiny office, determined to excel and carry out her work. The highly accomplished Abd El Aleem previously served as head of the women’s department of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). Today Israeli restrictions and the factional squabbling between rival ruling parties Hamas and Fatah have produced their first organizational casualty: the PGFTU. Given the inter-trade union disputes, political wrangling and lack of funds, there’s not much El Aleem can do. Established in 1965, the PGFTU was one of the forerunners of the movement calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel until it adheres to its obligations regarding U.N. resolutions, borders, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. Its activities were first halted in 2008, when two Israeli F-16 missiles destroyed its Gaza headquarters. According to El Aleem, Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports from the Gaza Strip, where he maintains the Web site <>. He can be reached at <gazanews@yahoo. com>. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza. 22

the union has also had its share of harassment by Gaza’s de facto Hamas government. “We were questioned, and our officers detained,” she told the Washington Report. “To be fair,” however, argues retired Palestinian trade union leader Abu Wissam Mahdi, “Hamas is not the problem at this stage, despite the past. The union is going through a funding shortage and factional division.” As a result of various pressures, the 15 unions making up the PGFTU are falling apart, despite continuous efforts to keep them together. Conferences are held to try to address problems between branches in Gaza and the West Bank, and to resolve internal squabbling and conflict among the leaders themselves, who refuse to either change or be changed. As an indication of their ineffectiveness, the unions were unable to organize a united general strike when Palestinian government employees in the West Bank went on a two-day strike in late March to protest a delay in payment of their wages for some three months due to Israeli sanctions. Abu Wissam is convinced that the only way to reunite the unions is through honest elections in which workers vote for whoever they think will best represent them, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

rather than on the basis of party politics. “We were never being honest as a labor union movement under democracy,” he told the Washington Report. Some union leaders have been in their positions for more than 20 years, he noted, and don’t seem to realize it’s time to go home. Abu Wissam wryly compares PGFTU leaders with Syrian President Bashar alAssad, explaining, “Both are undemocratic; they won their seats with fake elections.” Like Assad with regard to the Syrian people, he continues, current union leadership represents neither the needs nor the rights of Palestinian workers. Abu Wissam and many others in Gaza feel inspired by the youthful energy of the Arab Spring. “It is time for the new generation,” he asserts. “Someone like me, over 60 years old, sees that there is a need for PGFTU to promote and encourage younger leaders who can carry the aspirations and rights of workers.” According to Abu Wissam and others, leaders of international trade unions used to be more forthcoming in giving unconditional support to the PGFTU. Abd El Aleem sees that support dwindling now, adding that delegations visiting from abroad no longer are offering support. It’s as if the visits “are more for formality and MAY 2013

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entertainment now,” she lamented. Today the activities of the PGFTU in Gaza are limited to a legal support department for workers in dispute situations and a Danish-funded project training illiterate female agriculture workers. This leaves the needs of many workers in Gaza unaddressed. Gaza’s teachers are underpaid, for example, with female kindergarten teachers earning an average monthly wage of 150 NIS ($42)—far from enough to cover basic needs. But there is no law to protect these educated professionals, says Abd El Aleem. Even the rights of the undereducated and unskilled workers toiling in the smuggling tunnels, where safety procedures are non-existent, are not protected in the event of accident, injury or death. According to Abd El Aleem, more than 2,000 young men and children who have no other way of earning a living have died digging the tunnels which bring essential daily goods to Gaza. Abu Wissam’s dream is to offer the next generation of Palestinians something they have not known since 1967, when Israel first occupied Gaza. Since then, he notes, most unionized workers fall into the cate-

gory of non-skilled, low-paid service workers, such as street sweepers, janitors or maids—a state of affairs which lends itself to what international donors refer to as “job-creation projects.” But Abu Wissam, who worked at the United Nations prior to a long tenure as PGFTU’s international relations officer, believes the international community is barely supporting the needs of Gaza’s workers. And often the support it does give is not exactly what Palestinians need. There is no lack of educated workers with skills in engineering, science, math and other disciplines, he points out. “We’ve done projects of getting educated professionals to sweep the streets in the past,” he points out, “and it didn’t do any good in the long run.” Currently UNRWA and Gaza’s Ministry of Labor have but one occupation to offer graduates: street sweeping. Abu Wissam considers this lack of opportunity to be a direct result of Israel’s occupation and years of siege, coupled with what appears to be an unwritten policy of massaging of donor egos, with kudos for creating “employment”—regardless of quality. Policies, programs and opportuni-

ties that produce meaningful employment, foster creativity and strengthen skills are lacking. As a result, so are positions that can lead to long-term sustainable growth, provide fulfilling careers and pave the way toward a better future for employees and Gaza as a region. Abu Wissam insists the roadblocks in opportunity have more to do with the “politics of donors than aid to workers.” For example, he says, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Arab Emirates and USAID programs have resulted in skilled workers cleaning roads and streets, while wearing T-shirts printed with the logos and flags of the donating countries. “It’s as if we have to advertise for them,” Abu Wissam said, “that they are making us work as street cleaners.” By comparison, T-shirts worn by roadcleaning crews in the U.S. may bear logos of corporate sponsors who are listed on signs saying they’ve “adopted” that portion of the road, which their employees volunteer to keep up. More likely, however, the logos are found on orange jumpsuits bearing the initials DOC—Department of Corrections. Continued on page 49


MAY 2013



williams_24_United Nations Report 4/3/13 2:47 PM Page 24

Libya a Cautionary Tale for International Intervention in Syria

United Nations Report


By Ian Williams

During events in Tripoli marking the second anniversary of the Libyan revolution, Libyans hold portraits of victims killed in the uprising that toppled Col. Muammar Qaddafi, Feb. 17, 2013. ne of the biggest obstacles to a U.N.

Orole in resolving the tragedy in Syria

is the previous events in Libya. It is worth looking back at Libya to put it in context. Col. Muammar Qaddafi had threatened to punish the citizens of Benghazi for their temerity in demanding democracy, and his previous actions substantiated the reality of his threats. As a result, Security Council members agreed on an intervention, albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm. For once, bombing might be effective, since most of the country is desert, with cities strung like beads on a string along the coast. Airpower could, and did, neutralize the regime’s ability to move heavy weaponry. Russia could have vetoed the Security Council resolution, but was swayed by the Arab League’s support for it. Of course, in practice, as so often with the League, for which words frequently speak louder than actions, material support did not appear. Because of the sensibilities of member states, the resolution did not mention Ian Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations who blogs at <www.>. 24

regime change—but no one has explained how you stop a determined, manic and murderous regime short of toppling it. In consequence, the international community had to pretend it was not trying to get rid of Qaddafi, and as a result it could not effectively shape the replacement regime. Indeed, because it was acting with one hand diplomatically tied behind its back, the whole process was stretched out. That not only let the casualty lists climb, it also allowed the various local power centers of the fissiparous opposition to consolidate their grip on the strongholds they had “liberated,” inhibiting effective central government. In such situations it is weapons, not votes, that get counted. One might also add that the lack of effective and timely intervention is one reason why the Sahel is now flooded with the looted contents of Libyan arsenals. People then did continue talking about diplomacy, but perhaps forgot how the colonel talked. His last allocution to the U.N. General Assembly hardly inspired confidence in his statesmanship, although to be fair, despite armchair anti-imperialist applause he could indeed be pragmatically accommodating when it came to selling out THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

erstwhile allies to imperialists when it so suited. Since he had allowed U.S. oil companies to join the Europeans, he no longer was any kind of threat to the West, either economic or “terrorist.” Indeed Qaddafi’s Arabist defenders had to develop convenient amnesia about his maltreatment of the Palestinians and his occasional eccentric outreaches to Israel, but amnesia is easy for ideologues to cultivate. For the Russians and their fellow fans of state sovereignty, however, the Libyan debacle was all the fault of the Western intervention. It is true that the West bypassed both the formal and the diplomatic niceties of consulting other U.N. members over the course of the intervention, but Sergei Lavrov was Moscow’s permanent representative at the U.N. when the U.S. was abusing resolutions against Iraq, so unless he had a very conveniently short memory, he does not have too many excuses for not foreseeing the outcome. No one could argue that the outcome in Libya was the happiest of results, but once the Arab Spring had hit the country, and Qaddafi had made the threats he did against his opponents, those who now deplore the West’s part in it should explain what they were going to do to save those thousands of Libyans. Telling people they have to be massacred because otherwise it would violate an abstract and obsolete Westphalian principle of sovereignty does not really address the concerns of the international public. The colonel’s false friends clearly gave him an unjustified feeling of longevity and safety, instead of arranging an easy climb down. And we have seen the same even more with Bashar al-Assad, with the ghosts of Libya hovering over Damascus. However, the Russian and Chinese vetoes on any effective U.N. action are probably not that unwelcome to many in the West, whose enthusiasm for direct involvement in Syria is strictly limited. To be fair, the U.N., whether considered as an entity in its own right or as a collective body, has very limited options. The obvious solution of a U.N.-declared no-fly zone would certainly neutralize the regime’s built-in advantage in heavy weaponry. Much of the West is mesmerContinued on page 26 MAY 2013

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Syria in the Time of Cholera SpecialReport

By Fehmy Saddy, Ph.D. abriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Love in

betrayal and death. It revolves around one passionate Florentino and his sweetheart Fermina. Tradition, money and betrayal connived to have her married to a pompous doctor and deprive them both of love until more than 50 years later, when they found themselves happily reunited on a riverboat, but unable to disembark because the cholera epidemic had spread over all the land. The similarity between Marquez’s romantic story and the epidemic of violence that engulfs Syria, which is even more deadly than cholera, is striking, though still short of a climax. Syria remains in the grips of the Doctor, and the Syrians who have been deprived of their bride for so long are willing to risk it all to hurry her to the riverboat. However, it is unlikely to get her there before she is consumed by cholera. This time, however, the Syrians are getting a helping hand—or so they think. They have waited ever so long for President Barack Obama, but the wait is finally over. After two years of nonchalance and repeated monotonous statements that President Bashar al-Assad has lost his legitimacy to govern, the American president has given his approval to Britain and France to arm the Syrian opposition with lethal weapons. The two countries—once described by the late Prof. Samuel Sharp of American University as two corpses lying at the end of World War II who forgot to bury themselves—have been resurrected to finish the job they started at the end of World War I: To further dissect Syria into small religious- and ethnic-based entities. Paradoxically, President Obama’s position comes at a time when the international community, including Washington’s Western allies, along with Russia and China, Fehmy Saddy, Ph.D. is president of FS Partners SA. The author of numerous articles and editor and contributor to several books, he served in the Syrian Foreign Service in the late 1960s, earned degrees from Damascus University Law School and American University School of International Service and Washington College of Law, and has taught at the American University of Beirut, Kuwait University, University of Maryland and American University in Washington, DC. MAY 2013


Gthe Time of Cholera is a tale of love,

A pre-Ba’ath Syrian flag, currently used by the Syrian opposition, sits on the desk of the Syrian delegation at the opening of the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar, March 25, 2013, marking the first time opponents of President Bashar al-Assad will represent Syria. seems to have coalesced around the necessity of finding a political solution to the human tragedy. Extensive diplomatic efforts are being made toward an acceptable arrangement to implement the Geneva Agreement. The same position is endorsed by regional powers, including the antagonists themselves and their supporters. Ironically, the only group that opposes a political solution is the Al Nusra Front and other radical Islamist groups associated with al-Qaeda, which the U.S. has been trying to eliminate with drones in Pakistan and Yemen. Reports have it that the U.S. is preparing the ground in Jordan to use drones against the Al Nusra Front and company if necessary. Nothing personal; it is all business. Meanwhile, Washington’s European allies, led by Germany, are careful about arming the opposition and want to look closely into the potential ramifications of such a move on the entire region. One must wonder why the U.S.—just like Al Nusra and company—is trying to sabotage the international community’s efforts to forge a political settlement to end the carnage in Syria.

The Sixty Million Dollar Question Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to answer this question during his March visit to the region. He voiced his support for the Syrian opposition and announced, coinciTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

dentally, a grant of $60 million to help defray the cost of humanitarian relief for the one million Syrian refugees. A drop in the bucket, one might say, but hey, it is money. Actually, it is just a little scrap thrown to the Syrian opposition to keep it interested. However, only President Obama could answer this $60 million question, which he did during his recent visit to Israel. He laid out a blueprint for a civil war in Syria that mirrors the civil war in Lebanon, which dragged on for 17 years. Most assuredly, such a war would lead to Syria’s destruction and disintegration as a unified political entity. Obama’s statements and insinuations revealed his vision for the future of the region—which, in essence, follows his predecessor’s crude plan for a New Middle East—starting with Syria.

Thus Spoke Obama Before the president’s departure for Israel, the White House said Obama was not carrying with him a peace plan to discuss with the Israelis and Palestinians. Some commentators described the trip as a private visit to smooth his relationship with Binyamin Netanyahu, who had just succeeded in assembling a new government. Others described it as a pilgrimage to the usual sites sacred to Jews. Actually, however, Obama’s visit was 25

saddy_25-26_Special Report 4/3/13 2:46 PM Page 26

more important than that. Speaking in Jerusalem, which is claimed to be the “Eternal Capital of Israel,” the American president assured the Israelis in the strongest terms of his unequivocal commitment to Israel’s supremacy in the Middle East. He called on the Arabs to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” without even bothering to make any reference to returning occupied Arab lands or to King Abdullah’s Peace Plan. Obama also told the Palestinians to resume negotiations without preconditions—i.e., while Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the West Bank, the stated reason Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table. On the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, President Obama also came very close to “Bibi” Netanyahu’s position. During their joint press conference, he promised to work closely with Israel and do whatever is necessary to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In reply, Netanyahu said he was “absolutely convinced” that Obama was determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. With regard to Syria, Obama voiced his support for the opposition, while making reference to peace with Israel once the opposition takes over in Damascus. This was a veiled bargain with the opposition in exchange for U.S. support. Recognition of Israel, evidently, is the most crucial factor in the struggle for power in Syria. As long as the Syrian opposition factions refuse to pay this price, the U.S. would allow the civil war to drag on through a series of calculated actions and inactions designed to bleed the country and force all parties into submission. Syria already has been divided, of course, and there is little prospect of re-establishing cohesion in a society shredded by civil war. The rift between the brutal regime and its willing and reluctant supporters, on the one hand, and the opposition forces, on the other, runs deeper every day a peaceful solution is postponed. Meanwhile, speaking from both sides of his mouth, President Obama sends mixed signals to both parties by giving lip service to a peaceful settlement one day, and supporting arming the opposition the next. This double-speak gives the opposition false hope that help is on the way, and encourages it to keep fighting. The stalemate on the ground, which neither side can win decisively, allows the killing and destruction to continue.

The Prodigal Son Keen on leaving a legacy, President Obama reportedly regularly gathers certain noted presidential historians for dinner at the 26

White House and lets them in on his political doctrines. Without straying into the realm of intricate global politics, it is legitimate to wonder what President Obama’s legacy in the Middle East might be. Much of what has happened in the region since his speech in Cairo early in his first administration is just the opposite of what he said and did. Should the noted presidential historians care to note, President Obama has continued his predecessor’s policies, and often embraced them with passion. But he has the single distinction of being the best U.S. president Israel has ever had. He has been anointed Israel’s Prodigal Son who has returned, not miserable and empty-handed like the biblical one, but with a precious gift: the destruction of Syria, which the Jews have dreamed of since their exile by the Assyrians 3,000 years ago. ❑

United Nations Report… Continued from page 24

tainly made more difficult to arrange because of the ICC investigations. It is arguable that it is better if tyrannical leaders make their exits early and easily, but over a year ago neutral Switzerland led almost 60 U.N. member states in asking the Security Council to refer Syria to the ICC for investigation. That is still possible. There are no good outcomes likely from Syria with the present conjunction of relationships in the international community. Whatever the outcome, the U.N. will almost surely be invoked because of its legitimizing power, and certainly the tireless Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will use his good offices to try to broker a cease-fire and some political arrangements. Ban’s low-profile public demeanor belies his diplomatic skills, which include restraint in public rhetoric but strong plain speaking in private. At present he is one of the few figures who can speak to both sides and to the other parties involved, in the region and farther afield.

Sequestration and the Israel Lobby ized by the presence of Salafist extremists among the rebels and is cautious about providing effective weaponry for fear of where it might be pointed afterward. Only Turkey among the neighbors with any military strength has any respectable standing, and it has its problems with the Kurds who populate part of Syria. An Israeli intervention might actually achieve the otherwise unlikely result of uniting government and dissidents around the one issue on which they can agree. With the West’s parlous record in Iraq, let alone Afghanistan, NATO is ruled out, at least in terms of ground forces of the kind needed to enforce a peace. It is still possible that—perhaps ironically, given its Armenian and Kurdish history— Turkey could come in following a U.N.-brokered truce as peacekeepers to guarantee the security of the beleaguered minorities, above all Assad’s previously dominant but now genuinely threatened Alawites. Like the U.S. and other nations with guilty consciences, including Russia and China, Syria has not ratified the treaty on the International Criminal Court (ICC), so Assad cannot be independently prosecuted by the court. The Security Council could refer the issue, however, as it did over Libya. But pragmatic politics and the principles of justice do not always ride in tandem. The fate of the Libyan dictator at the hands of uncontrolled insurgent gangs showed the perils of remaining in country, but his flight to anywhere else was cerTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Sequestration may have faded from the headlines, but little noticed in the public debate was the question of whether the U.S. would, once again, fall into the originally Israel-lobby-inspired failure to pay its U.N. dues. At a time when Washington wants U.N. peacekeepers in Mali, cutting back on contributions is not the cleverest option—but then Congress has rarely shown cleverness in any international issues. The Israel lobby is working hard, but discreetly, to ensure that the steady torrent of cash from U.S. taxpayers to its favorite state continues unchecked through the sequestration. Traditionally the lobby hid behind the foreign aid budget—as if food for starving refugees were in the same category as phosphorus shells for the IDF. But some Israel-firsters now want to decouple the connection. “Despite ongoing budget woes, it is critical that the United States live up to its aid commitment to Israel,” states AIPAC. “As our one reliable Middle East ally, Israel serves critical national security objectives. Any reduction in that aid would send the wrong message to Israel’s—and America’s—enemies.” Somehow, it is likely that Israel’s entitlement payments will continue. Almost surprisingly, it also seems probable that the U.N. payments will continue with the tacit blessing of the lobby, which presumably does not want to draw attention to foreign affairs payments at all. It will be interesting to watch. ❑ MAY 2013

cartoons_27_May 2013 Cartoons 4/3/13 2:41 PM Page 27




Muslim Observer, Livonia, MI


The New York Times Syndicate, New York

Oliphant @2013 Universal Uclick



Verdens Gang, Oslo

Daily Star, Beirut

MAY 2013

Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington



mcarthur_28-29_Congress Watch 4/2/13 5:09 PM Page 28

AIPAC’s Annual Meeting Prompts New Anti-Iran, Pro-Israel Measures CongressWatch

By Shirl McArthur

IPAC’s March 3-5 annual meeting resulted in the usual hordes of Zionists A descending on Washington, DC and several new, problematic anti-Iran and pro-Israel measures spewing forth from Congress. Prior to the meeting, on Feb. 12, AIPAC sent a memo, entitled “New Iran Sanctions Must be Enforced,” to congressional offices indicating where AIPAC’s lobbying efforts would be focused during and after the conference. The memo’s main

wording at odds with the Obama administration’s policy toward Iran. The first of these said the goal should be to “prevent Tehran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability.” The use of the vague, undefined term “capability,” which could be subject to interpretation, has been pushed repeatedly in Congress by AIPAC, but the Obama administration has clearly said its policy is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The second objectionable


Who’s Helping Whom?

clear weapons capability.” The sections imposing economic and financial sanctions would have the effect of immorally imposing hardships on innocent Iranian citizens, and the imposition of sanctions on foreign persons or firms dealing with Iran could harm U.S. relations with such countries as Turkey, India, South Korea and China, undermining multilateral efforts to convince Iran to suspend its nuclear weapons program. The section requiring that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps be declared a foreign terrorist organization could be construed as authorizing the use of military force against Iran, since the Revolutionary Guards Corps is an element of the Iranian government. Under intense AIPAC pressure, the bill has 168 co-sponsors, and counting. In the Senate, on Feb. 28 Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) followed AIPAC’s bidding by introducing S.Res. 65, “strongly supporting the full implementation of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran and urging the president to continue to strengthen enforcement of sanctions legislation.” After 31 “whereas” clauses, the eight “resolved” clauses include one, number 5, that “reiterates that the policy of the U.S. is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and to take such action as may be necessary to implement this policy.” Worse, number 8 says that if Israel “is compelled to take military action in self-defense,” the U.S. should give Israel “diplomatic, military, and economic support.” Although this is a nonbinding Senate resolution, and its last sentence says that “nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war,” Americans for Peace Now calls it the “Backdoor to War” resolution, because it would give Israel a green light to attack Iran

thrust was that “the impact of sanctions has been blunted by insufficient enforcement and Iran’s exploitation of loopholes to bypass restrictions.” Dutifully, 36 senators, led by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), signed a Feb. 25 letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy urging him to close a loophole in U.S./EU sanctions against Iran by cutting off Iran’s ability to convert its foreign-held euros into local currencies through the European Central Bank’s currency conversion, or “Target2,” system. The AIPAC memo’s next points included Shirl McArthur is a retired U.S. foreign service officer based in the Washington, DC area. 28

point is that “Iran must take meaningful and verifiable steps to suspend its nuclear program,” ignoring the fact that under the Non-Proliferation Treaty Iran is entitled to pursue a peaceful nuclear program. The administration’s policy is that Iran should suspend its nuclear weapons program. On cue, on Feb. 27 Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced the comprehensive H.R. 850 “to impose additional human rights and economic and financial sanctions with respect to Iran.” This bill includes several problematic provisions. Right up front, ignoring that the Constitution gives the president the authority to set foreign policy, the bill says “it shall be the policy of the U.S. to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

MAY 2013

mcarthur_28-29_Congress Watch 4/2/13 5:09 PM Page 29

whenever it claims to be threatened, which inevitably would draw in the U.S. It has 64 co-sponsors. Similarly, on March 5 Rep. Paul Gosar (RAZ), with 28 Know-Nothing Party co-sponsors, introduced H.Res. 98, which makes no attempt to hide its true intent. Its only resolved clause says the House “fully supports” Israel’s taking “actions to halt Iranian aggression such as a strike against Iran’s illegal nuclear program.” On Feb. 27 Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced H.R. 854, directing the secretary of state to “designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force as a foreign terrorist organization.” On Feb. 28 leading Israel-firster Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced H.R. 893, a new, comprehensive “Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Accountability” bill. Among its many provisions are those increasing sanctions on any person or entity transferring goods, services or technology for the chemical, biological or advanced conventional weapons programs of the three targeted countries, and prohibiting assistance to any foreign government that has provided assistance to Iran, North Korea or Syria, or has failed to prevent persons or entities under its sovereignty from aiding their proliferation activities. In addition, it would remove the presidential waiver authority from the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996. It has seven co-sponsors, including Ros-Lehtinen and Sherman. To inject some sanity into the matter, on Feb. 15 Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and 10 cosponsors introduced H.R. 783, the “Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy” bill. This is similar to H.R. 4173 that she introduced in the 112th Congress. Among other things, it says Washington should “pursue sustained, direct, bilateral negotiations with the government of Iran without preconditions in order to reduce tensions, prevent war, prevent nuclear proliferation, support human rights, and seek resolutions to issues that concern the U.S. and the international community.” It would also direct the president to “appoint a high-level U.S. representative or special envoy for Iran.”

14 Senators Urged Obama to Withdraw Hagel Nomination Over His Views on Iran On Feb. 22, prior to the full Senate’s Feb. 26 confirmation of the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, 14 Republican senators, led by Sen. John Cornyn (TX), took the extraordinary step of writing to Obama urging him to withMAY 2013

draw the nomination. Foremost among their reasons was their claim that Hagel has not been sufficiently tough on Iran. (See also “The Lesson in Hagel’s Inquisition” in the April 2013 Washington Report, p. 14.)

“U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership” Bills Also an AIPAC Priority On March 4, during AIPAC’s conference, Ros-Lehtinen introduced H.R. 938, declaring that “Israel is a major strategic partner of the U.S.” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the similar S. 462 in the Senate the following day. (Early reporting about the bills referred to them as the “U.S.-Israel Strategic Ally” bills, but “ally” was changed to “partner,” for reasons that are not clear.) Both bills would, among other things, authorize increased U.S. “cooperative activities” in the fields of energy, water, homeland security, agriculture and alternative fuel technologies. They would also expand U.S.-Israel cyber-security cooperation and extend authority to add to “foreignbased” defense stockpiles and to transfer “obsolete or surplus” Department of Defense items to Israel. In addition, H.R. 938 says that “it shall be U.S. policy to include Israel in the visa waiver program when Israel satisfies” the program’s requirements. But under S. 462 Israel would be exempt from the key requirement of a low refusal rate for non-immigrant visas. (Israel has not been included in the program because too many Israelis come to the U.S. on tourist visas and then stay on illegally.) H.R. 938 has 110 co-sponsors, including Ros-Lehtinen, and S. 462 has 14, including Boxer. Early reporting also speculated that part of the impetus behind the bills is to maintain Israel’s military aid in the face of the congressionally mandated “sequestration” budget cuts. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) quoted an “AIPAC official” as saying that this was in line with some Republicans’ wanting to move Israel’s aid from the foreign aid bill to the Defense Department appropriations bill (where it can more easily be hidden). Part of AIPAC’s lobbying effort has been to prevent Israel’s aid from being cut under the sequestration, but several published sources have said that Israel’s aid will be cut by $155 million, or about 5 percent, instead of the 8 percent initially programmed. In an apparent attempt to separate aid to Israel from other foreign aid, on Feb. 27 Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced H.Res. 88 “to prohibit the consideration of any bill or joint resolution that appropriates foreign assistance for more than one country.” Interestingly, the bill originally had 13 cosponsors, but all 13 withdrew on Feb. 28. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Then one of them, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), reinstated his co-sponsorship on March 5. The two previously described measures “to provide for the inclusion of Israel in the visa waiver program” have made little progress. H.R. 300, introduced in January by Sherman, has gained eight co-sponsors and now has 73, including Sherman. S. 266, introduced in February by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), still has no other co-sponsors. Similarly, the previously described “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition” bills, H.R. 104 and H.R. 252, which would require that the U.S. Embassy in Israel be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and would remove the presidential waiver authority included in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, have made little progress. H.R. 104 has gained nine co-sponsors and now has 20, and H.R. 252 still has no co-sponsors.

Kerry Releases Some of the Blocked Aid to Egypt During his post-confirmation trip to the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry announced in Egypt on March 3 that he was releasing $190 million of the $450 million in aid to Egypt that had been subject to congressional holds. In addition he announced $60 million for a program to promote economic development, bringing the total announced aid to $250 million. The Washington Post, citing an anonymous “U.S. official,” reported that the remaining $260 million of the blocked funds could be freed if Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi follows through on promised reforms. Earlier, on Jan. 16, a group of eight senators, led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), met with Morsi and, according to McCain, voiced their “strong disapproval” of “antiSemitic” and “anti-Zionist” speeches reportedly made by Morsi three years ago. However, McCain also said that the group believed in the importance of the U.S.Egyptian relationship and would urge Congress to provide Egypt with aid. As previously reported, there have been some congressional objections to the delivery of previously ordered F-16 fighters to Egypt. In January Sen. James Inhofe (ROK) introduced S.207 “to restrict the sale, lease, transfer, or delivery of F-16 aircraft, M1 tanks, or certain other defense articles or services” to Egypt until the president certifies that the government of Egypt agrees to several conditions. Also, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in January introduced S. 201 that would prohibit all U.S. military sales to Egypt, with no exceptions, conditions or sunset clauses. S. 207 still has Continued on page 37 29

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By Janet McMahon

No Surprise: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Is the Israel Lobby’s Newest Man in Washington ess than a month after being sworn

Linto office for his first term, Sen.


Ted Cruz (R-TX) began to earn the $16,000 he received from pro-Israel Compiled by Hugh Galford political action committees (PACs) for his successful 2012 effort. (As the adjaHOUSE: CURRENT RACES SENATE: CURRENT RACES cent table shows, that’s not all that much for a Senate race, but, hey, it’s a Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R-FL) $65,000 Menendez, Robert (D-NJ) $83,000 start. And as a member of the Senate Engel, Eliot L. (D-NY) 40,000 Berkley, Shelley (D-NV) 81,700 Armed Services Committee, chaired Rothman, Steven R. (D-NJ) 35,500 Casey, Robert P ., Jr. (D-PA) 61,900 by Sen. Carl Levin—who has received Hoyer, Steny H. (D-MD) 31,750 Cardin, Benjamin L. (D-MD) 55,680 more pro-Israel PAC contributions than any other member of ConBerman, Howard L. (D-CA) 30,500 McCaskill, Claire (D-MO) 52,500 gress—Cruz is well placed to pick up Lange, Ben (R-IA) 27,000 Nelson, Bill (D-FL) 48,150 some valuable tips.) Lowey, Nita M. (D-NY) 26,000 Klobuchar, Amy J. (D-MN) 48,000 At the Jan. 31 confirmation hearCicilline, David N. (D-RI) 22,000 Whitehouse, Sheldon, II (D-RI) 42,500 ing for Defense Secretary Chuck Andrews, Robert E. (D-NJ) 21,500 Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI) 42,300 Hagel, Cruz didn’t seem to find any Wasserman Schultz, Debbie (D-FL) 21,000 Brown, Sherrod (D-OH) 35,755 irony in his request that Hagel provide the committee with the names House: Career Totals Senate: Career Totals of “any…funding sources [that] have come from foreign countries.” Berkley, Shelley (D-NV)* $407,755 Levin, Carl (D-MI) $729,937 He then proceeded to grill PresiEngel, Eliot L. (D-NY) 309,418 Harkin, Thomas R. (D-IA) 552,950 dent Barack Obama’s then-nominee in McCarthy-like fashion, demandRos-Lehtinen, Ileana (R-FL) 273,740 Lautenberg, Frank R. (D-NJ) 503,578 ing to know whether Hagel Hoyer, Steny H. (D-MD) 267,025 McConnell, Mitch (R-KY)** 498,141 thought Israel had committed war Cantor, Eric (R-VA) 224,730 Reid, Harry (D-NV) 393,001 crimes and if he indeed considered Lowey, Nita M. (D-NY) 203,238 Durbin, Richard J. (D-IL)** 375,421 its 2006 invasion of Lebanon a Berman, Howard L. (D-CA) 155,050 Lieberman, Joseph I. (Ind-CT) 366,851 “sickening slaughter.” Cruz went Burton, Danny L. (R-IN) 146,836 Baucus, Max (D-MT)** 352,648 on to ask (rhetorically, we hope): Levin, Sander M. (D-MI) 133,827 Wyden, Ronald L. (D-OR) 348,462 “Do you think a ‘sickening slaughPelosi, Nancy (D-CA) 132,800 Kirk, Mark (R-IL) 337,386 ter’ would constitute a war crime?” *includes 2012 Senate race **running in 2014 Taking issue with another controversial Hagel statement, fellow committee member Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) PACs that in 2012 contributed a total of suffered some embarrassing defeats last admonished the nominee: “you have sug- $2,841,693 to congressional and presi- year. Perhaps most notably, Democratic gested that there is an effective lobby out dential candidates. Of Senator Wicker’s Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley, who rethere, whether you call them the Jewish $16,500 take, $3,000 came from NORPAC. ceived a whopping $81,700 from pro-Islobby, the Israeli lobby, or the Israel Apparently favored members of Congress rael PACs, will not be joining her former lobby, and that they succeed in doing know exactly who is giving them money congressional fellow traveler Mark Kirk dumb things through intimidation, and and why, while ordinary Americans can (R-IL) in the Senate. By comparison, victhat U.S. policy has been the wrong ap- hardly be expected to know whose inter- torious Sen. Dean Heller received a less proach because the intimidation has ests are represented by NORPAC, Desert generous $23,000. (While a setback for Caucus, Delaware Valley PAC and other the lobby, we suspect Berkley’s former worked. “So when you talked about the Jewish deceptively named pro-Israel PACs. boss and now antagonist, the Zionist billobby, were you talking about AIPAC? lionare Sheldon Adelson, is pleased with Now for Some Good News… Were you talking about NORPAC?” the result. However, Adelson did not get Now the senator from Mississippi is Despite the fact that the elected represen- much bang for his bucks last year, as talking our language! He knows the name tatives of the land of the free and the many of the candidates he backed sufof at least one of the 30-odd pro-Israel home of the brave quake in their boots at fered the same fate as Berkley.) In redistricted California, the lobby the prospect that they might incur the Janet McMahon is managing editor of the displeasure of the Israel lobby—as op- had to choose between two of its stalWashington Report. posed to their constituents’—the lobby warts, Democrats Howard “even-before30


MAY 2013

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I-was-a-Democrat I was a Zionist” Berman and Brad Sherman. Pro-Israel PACs gave $30,500 to Berman and $18,000 to Sherman, who won the hotly contested race. Moving further west, Linda Lingle, Hawaii’s first Jewish governor and a partisan of Israel, raked in $28,500 to Rep. Mazie Hirono’s $7,500, but to no avail. Following the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye, however, Gov. (and former Rep.) Neil Abercrombie ignored the senator’s expressed wish that Abercrombie appoint Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to serve the remaining two years of his term and appointed Jewish Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz instead. And because Schatz was sworn into office at the end of 2012 instead of Jan. 3, 2013 along with the rest of the 113th Congress, he is now the senior senator from Hawaii, ahead of Hirono. In Florida, another state known for its sunshine, the lobby can’t be too pleased that Rep. Alan Grayson was able to take back his congressional seat. He received no money from pro-Israel PACs. Following Sen. Richard Lugar’s defeat in Indiana’s Republican primary, pro-Israel PACs gave $26,500 to the victor, Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock— who argued that “even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen”—and $14,500 to Democratic candidate Joseph Donnelly, who went on to win the general election.

In Louisiana, Rep. Charles Boustany, who received $2,500 from pro-Israel PACs, defeated fellow incumbent Republican Jeffrey Landry, the beneficiary of $12,000 in pro-Israel PAC contributions. Both were running to represent a new congressional district. Pro-Israel PACs tend to favor the incumbent (even when there are two of them, apparently). But in Massachusetts there was only one Senate incumbent, Republican Scott Brown, who received $23,000 in pro-Israel PAC funds. The state’s new senator, Elizabeth Warren, received a relatively paltry $7,500. As reported in the August 2012 “Election Watch,” in yet another redistricting race between two incumbent Democrats, New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell defeated longtime Israel favorite Rep. Steven Rothman, who received $35,500 in pro-Israel PAC contributions to Pascrell’s $6,000. For the general election, Republican Rabbi Shmuley Boteach garnered $2,500 in a losing effort. North Dakota presented the lobby with yet another defeat, as Democratic Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp, who received $9,000 in pro-Israel PAC money, defeated Republican Richard Berg, who garnered $27,500 in pro-Israel PAC donations. In Virginia, former Republican Sen. George Allen lost his second bid to reclaim his former seat. His $24,500 in proIsrael PAC contributions was not that much more than former Democratic Gov.

Tim Kaine’s $17,201. The latter amount, however, also represents his career total, while Allen’s career total of $76,900 reveals the true extent of the lobby’s ardor for Allen. Wisconsin’s open Senate seat was the object of desire for Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin and former Republican Gov. Tommy G. Thompson. While the victorious Baldwin raised about $5 million more than her opponent, Thompson received $31,493 in pro-Israel PAC contributions to Baldwin’s $23,615.

No Favorite Sons in Maryland? Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland both were among the top 10 recipients of pro-Israel PAC contributions in 2012—despite the fact that neither Democrat faced a strong challenge. In fact, the word “cakewalk” is a much more apt description of their races than it was of the U.S. invasion of Iraq a decade ago. Curiously, however, none of the $87,430 in pro-Israel PAC contributions to the two candidates came from the only PAC one might have expected to back its homeboys—the Maryland Association for Concerned Citizens. Instead it gave $91,500 to candidates from Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, California and 15 other states. Could it know something its fellow Marylanders don’t? Or perhaps it was just following orders. ❑



Office District H H H H H H S S S H H H H H H

1 2 3 4 6 7 2 3 6 7 9 9

Candidate Bonner, Josia R. Roby, Martha Rogers, Michael D. Aderholt, Robert B. Bachus, Spencer T., III Sewell, Terri A. Cardon, Wilford R.* Carmona, Richard* Flake, Jeff*# Barber, Ronald† Grijalva, Raúl M. Schweikert, David Pastor, Ed L. Cherny, Andrei Parker, Vernon



2011-2012 Contributions





2,500 2,500 14,000 2,500 5,000 2,500 1,000 19,000 22,500 2,000 4,000 1,000 5,000 2,000 1,500

13,650 2,500 32,325 20,500 24,500 5,000 1,000 19,000 23,250 2,000 10,000 1,000 8,800 2,000 1,500



KEY: The “Career Total” column represents the total amount of pro-Israel PAC money received from Jan. 1, 2009 through July 15, 2012. S=Senate, H=House of Representatives. Party affiliation: D=Democrat, R=Republican, Ref=Reform, DFL=Democratic Farmers Labor, Ind=Independent, Lib=Libertarian, WFP=Working Families Party. Status: C=Challenger, I=Incumbent, N=Not Running, O=Open Seat (no incumbent), P=Defeated in primary election. *=Senate election year, #=House member running for Senate seat, †=Special Election. Committees: A=Appropriations (D=Defense subcommittee, FO=Foreign Operations subcommittee, HS=Homeland Security, NS=National Security subcommittee), AS=Armed Services, B=Budget, C=Commerce, FR=Foreign Relations (NE=Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs subcommittee), HS=Homeland Security, I=Intelligence, IR=International Relations, NS=National Security, W=Ways and Means. “–” indicates money returned by candidate, “0” that all money received was returned. MAY 2013



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Office District H S H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H S S S S H H H


2 2 3 5 7 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 15 16 17 18 19 20 23 24 24 25 25 26 26 26 27 28 29 30 30 31 33 34 36 37 38 39 44 44 46 47 48 50 51 52 52 53 1 2 3 5 6 7

3 5 5


Cotton, Thomas Feinstein, Dianne* Woolsey, Lynn C. Huffman, Jared Garamendi, John Thompson, Mike Bera, Amerish (Ami) Lungren, Daniel E. McNerney, Jerry Hernandez, Jose M. Miller, George Pelosi, Nancy Lee, Barbara Speier, Jackie Stark, Fortney H., Jr. (Pete) Swalwell, Eric M. Costa, Jim Honda, Mike Eshoo, Anna Lofgren, Zoe Farr, Sam McCarthy, Kevin Capps, Lois G. Maldonado, Abel McKeon, Howard P. (Buck) Rogers, Lee C. Brownley, Julia Gallegly, Elton Strickland, Anthony A. Chu, Judy Schiff, Adam Cardenas, Tony Berman, Howard L. Sherman, Brad Aguilar, Pete Waxman, Henry A. Becerra, Xavier Bono Mack, Mary Bass, Karen Sanchez, Linda Royce, Edward R. Hahn, Janiceâ&#x20AC; Harman, Jane Sanchez, Loretta Lowenthal, Alan Rohrabacher, Dana Hunter, Duncan D. Vargas, Juan C. Bilbray, Brian P. Peters, Scott Davis, Susan A. DeGette, Diana L. Polis, Jared Pace, Salvatore, II Lamborn, Douglas Coffman, Michael Perlmutter, Edwin G. Lieberman, Joseph I.* Murphy, Christopher S.*# Shays, Christopher* Blumenthal, Richard DeLauro, Rosa L. Esty, Elizabeth Roraback, Andrew

Party R D D D D D D R D D D D D D D D D D D D D R D R R D D R R D D D D D D D D R D D R D D D D R R D R D D D D D R R D Ind. D R D D D R

Status O I N O I I C I I C I I I I I C I I I I I I I C I C O N O I I O I I N I I I I I I I N I O I I O I C I I I C I I I N O P I I O O

2011-2012 Contributions 2,500 10,000 2,500 3,500 11,500 2,500 9,500 1,500 5,500 1,200 4,000 10,500 2,000 3,000 1,000 14,500 5,000 3,500 2,500 3,500 3,000 7,500 17,500 7,500 7,500 2,000 4,400 1,000 4,000 1,000 13,500 2,600 30,500 18,000 2,500 12,100 1,000 5,000 1,000 4,000 5,000 9,000 -2,500 3,000 10,200 10,000 5,000 100 1,500 400 7,000 4,500 0 2,500 3,000 2,000 1,000 -2,000 8,000 500 1,500 10,000 1,500 1,500



2,500 157,342 6,000 3,500 11,500 3,500 13,700 15,000 32,600 1,200 13,193 132,800 2,000 7,000 13,750 14,500 23,500 13,500 6,750 5,250 12,150 9,000 35,417 7,500 13,000 2,000 4,400 51,250 4,000 1,000 80,917 2,600 155,050 90,430 2,500 52,932 4,000 16,000 3,500 22,950 9,500 9,000 121,271 66,450 10,200 11,250 41,350 100 5,000 400 17,163 4,500 0 2,500 5,500 2,250 10,224 366,851 15,000 50,550 25,500 57,400 1,500 1,500

Committees A(D), I AS W


Min. Ldr. A AS W A, B C

A Maj. Whip C AS








MAY 2013

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MAY 2013

Office District S S H S S S S H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H S S S H H S S H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H


1 3 7 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 18 19 20 21 22 22 23 24 26 26 25 27 1 4 6 12 13 1 2 2 3 5 6 7 8 8 9 10 10 11 11 12 13 13 14 16 16 17 17 18


Carper, Thomas R.* Coons, Christopher A. Carney, John C., Jr. Lemieux, George S.* Mack, Connie*# Nelson, Bill* Rubio, Marco Miller, Jefferson B. Stearns, Clifford B. Mica, John L. Demings, Valdez (Val) Nugent, Richard B. Bilirakis, Gus M. Ehrlich, Jessica D. Castor, Kathy Ross, Dennis A. Buchanan, Vernon Rooney, Tom West, Allen B. Murphy, Patrick Radel, Henry J., III Hastings, Alcee L. Deutch, Theodore E. Hasner, Adam Frankel, Lois J. Wasserman Schultz, Debbie Wilson, Frederica S. Garcia, Jose A. (Joe) Rivera, David Diaz-Balart, Mario Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana Kingston, Jack Johnson, Henry C. (Hank) Price, Thomas E. Barrow, John J. Scott, David A. Hirono, Mazie K.*# Lingle, Linda* Inouye, Daniel K. Hanabusa, Colleen W. Gabbard, Tulsi Durbin, Richard J. Kirk, Mark S. Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. Lipinski, Daniel W. Quigley, Mike Roskam, Peter Davis, Danny K. Duckworth, Tammy L. Walsh, Joe Schakowsky, Janice D. Dold, Robert J., Jr. Schneider, Bradley S. Foster, G. William (Bill) Biggert, Judy Costello, Jerry F. Davis, Rodney L. Gill, David M. Hultgren, Randy Kinzinger, Adam Manzullo, Donald A. Bustos, Cheri Schilling, Robert T. Schock, Aaron J.

Party D D D R R D R R R R D R R D D R R R R D R D D R D D D D R R R R D R D D D R D D D D R D D D R D D R D R D D R D R D R R R D R R

Status I I I N C I I I N I C I I C I I I I I C O I I O O I I C I I I I I I I I O O N I O I I I I I I I C I I I C C I N O O I I P C I I

2011-2012 Contributions 22,800 1,000 1,500 2,500 5,000 48,150 10,500 4,000 6,500 1,500 2,000 9,100 3,000 500 12,500 7,000 2,000 1,000 13,000 7,500 2,500 8,000 14,250 8,500 4,500 21,000 4,500 5,000 8,500 7,250 65,000 5,000 6,000 6,000 1,000 2,000 7,500 28,500 1,000 1,000 500 2,000 1,000 3,500 5,500 500 6,000 4,000 8,500 3,000 2,000 15,500 2,600 3,000 3,500 -500 1,000 2,000 1,500 4,000 2,000 5,000 4,300 5,500



60,400 19,000 5,500 2,500 16,200 185,371 15,600 6,500 20,000 14,150 2,000 17,100 44,316 500 22,400 16,500 2,000 1,000 15,500 7,500 2,500 102,850 57,850 8,500 6,500 74,300 9,500 19,000 11,000 53,750 273,740 5,500 38,200 11,500 50,074 13,000 11,500 28,500 263,425 5,000 500 375,421 337,386 19,350 10,900 1,500 21,750 10,250 17,474 3,000 34,145 22,500 2,600 19,000 16,727 8,500 1,000 2,000 2,000 7,000 9,000 5,000 4,300 20,000

Committees HS B, FR(NE)

FR(NE) B, C, I C, FR(NE), I AS, I


B, C




A(D, FO, HS), C AS




AS W 33

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Office District










Mississippi Missouri



2 4 5 6 8 1 1 2 3 4 3 5 6

1 3 3 4 5 6 1 2

4 5 8 2 4 7

1 3 8 9 12 13 14 1 2 3 4 5 6 8 8 3

1 5 7


Donnelly, Joseph S.*# Lugar, Richard G.* Mourdock, Richard E.* Bayh, Evan Coats, Daniel R. Mullen, Brendan B. Rokita, Theodore E. Burton, Danny L. Pence, Mike Bucshon, Larry D. Braley, Bruce L. Lange, Ben Loebsack, David W. Boswell, Leonard L. Vilsack, Christie McConnell, Mitch Yarmuth, John A. Rogers, Harold D. Chandler, A. Ben, III Landrieu, Mary L. Scalise, Steve Boustany, Charles, Jr. Landry, Jeffrey M. Fleming, John C., Jr. Alexander, Rodney M. Cassidy, William King, Angus S., Jr.* Snowe, Olympia J.* Collins, Susan M. Pingree, Chellie M. Michaud, Michael H. Cardin, Benjamin L.* Edwards, Donna Hoyer, Steny H. Van Hollen, Chris Brown, Scott P.* Warren, Elizabeth* McGovern, Jim Kennedy, Joseph P., III Capuano, Michael E. Stabenow, Debbie* Levin, Carl McDowell, Gary J. Pestka, Steve Rogers, Michael J. Levin, Sander M. Dingell, John D. Conyers, John, Jr. Peters, Gary Klobuchar, Amy J.* Walz, Timothy J. Kline, John Paul, Jr. Paulsen, Erik McCollum, Betty Ellison, Keith M. Bachmann, Michele Nolan, Richard M. Cravaack, Raymond J. (Chip) Wicker, Roger F.* Harper, Gregg McCaskill, Claire* Carnahan, John R. (Russ) Cleaver, Emanuel, II Long, Billy



Status C P C N I O I N N I I C I I C I I I I I I I I I I I O N I I I I I I I I C I O I I I C C I I I I I I I I I I I I C I I I I N I I

2011-2012 Contributions 14,500 27,500 26,500 -10,000 1,000 1,000 3,000 3,500 1,000 1,500 11,000 27,000 9,000 3,000 1,000 13,000 5,000 8,500 5,000 2,500 11,500 2,500 12,000 4,500 5,000 11,000 17,000 20,000 2,000 2,000 1,000 55,680 5,000 31,750 -500 23,000 7,500 3,500 1,000 4,000 42,300 1,000 250 12,750 2,500 1,100 5,000 2,500 10,500 48,000 1,500 5,500 7,000 3,000 2,500 7,500 1,000 4,000 16,500 1,000 52,500 8,500 7,500 7,500



24,500 97,950 26,500 82,500 69,060 1,000 4,500 146,836 83,250 2,500 17,000 27,000 16,000 41,675 1,000 498,141 15,500 16,000 29,500 207,889 30,500 13,500 14,500 12,000 21,000 15,000 17,000 104,500 113,000 5,676 15,250 148,695 9,500 267,025 4,000 27,000 7,500 10,575 1,000 6,000 168,906 729,937 1,750 12,750 6,000 133,827 17,700 5,000 38,500 80,835 7,000 23,000 14,500 8,750 5,500 37,000 1,000 4,000 66,400 3,500 71,835 37,600 13,000 7,500

Committees FR(NE) A(D, FO, HS), I


A(D, FO), I B A FR(NE), I A(FO, HS), HS C W AS A C

C, I A(D), AS, HS AS B, FR(NE)

Min. Whip B AS, HS




MAY 2013

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Office District

S S S Nebraska S S S S Nevada S S H H H H H New Hampshire S H H H New Jersey S S H H H H H H H H H H H H H New Mexico S S H New York S S H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H H


MAY 2013

1 2 3 4 4 1 2 2

1 2 3 3 6 7 9 9 9 10 10 11 12 1 1 1 2 3 4 6 6 6 8 9 10 13 14 16 17 18 18 20 22 23 24 24 25 26 27 27


Rehberg, Dennis R. (Denny)*# Tester, Jon* Baucus, Max Bruning, Jon C.* Fischer, Debra S.* Kerrey, J. Robert* Nelson, E. Benjamin* Berkley, Shelley*# Heller, Dean* Titus, Alice Constandina (Dina) Marshall, Kate† Heck, Joe Horsford, Steven A. Tarkanian, Danny Ayotte, Kelly A. Shea-Porter, Carol Bass, Charles F. Kuster, Ann McLane Menendez, Robert* Kyrillos, Joseph M., Jr.* Andrews, Robert E. LoBiondo, Frank A. Adler, Shelley Runyan, Jon Pallone, Frank, Jr. Lance, Leonard Boteach, Shmuley Pascrell, William J., Jr. Rothman, Steven R. Payne, Donald M. Rice, Ronald C.† Frelinghuysen, Rodney P. Holt, Rush D., Jr. Heinrich, Martin T.*# Wilson, Heather A.* Lujan Grisham, Michelle Gillibrand, Kirsten E.* Schumer, Charles E. Altschuler, Randolph Bishop, Timothy H. (Tim) King, Peter T. Israel, Steve J. McCarthy, Carolyn Ackerman, Gary L. Lancman, Rory Meng, Grace Jeffries, Hakeem Weprin, David I.† Nadler, Jerrold L. Rangel, Charles B. Crowley, Joseph Engel, Eliot L. Lowey, Nita M. Hayworth, Nan Maloney, Sean P. Tonko, Paul D. Hinchey, Maurice D. Reed, Thomas W., II Buerkle, Ann Marie Maffei, Daniel B. Slaughter, Louise M. Higgins, Brian Hochul, Kathleen C. Collins, Christopher C.



Status C I I P O O N C I O N I O O I C I C I C I I C I I I C I P N O I I O O O I I C I I I I N O O O N I I I I I I C I N I I C I I I C

2011-2012 Contributions 7,000 33,000 3,000 7,000 19,500 5,000 8,500 81,700 23,000 1,000 2,500 1,500 2,000 3,000 2,000 6,000 1,000 5,500 83,000 5,000 21,500 5,000 1,000 1,500 12,000 4,000 2,500 6,000 35,500 7,500 1,000 1,000 2,000 23,755 15,500 1,000 20,000 -500 5,000 1,000 2,500 6,453 1,000 2,000 1,400 2,500 20,300 2,000 2,000 3,500 3,500 40,000 26,000 1,500 5,000 5,000 2,500 1,000 4,000 7,500 5,000 2,000 5,000 1,500



9,500 43,224 352,648 7,000 19,500 203,500 107,760 407,755 23,000 14,100 2,500 4,000 2,000 3,000 16,500 13,000 17,850 6,500 211,318 5,000 107,025 30,750 1,000 1,500 88,550 11,000 2,500 15,853 119,003 36,250 1,000 12,350 25,741 34,755 51,750 1,000 82,450 83,885 12,500 11,000 29,000 57,512 7,825 57,350 1,400 2,500 20,300 2,000 30,000 28,000 109,157 309,418 203,238 3,000 5,000 5,000 9,780 1,000 4,000 23,500 66,880 11,600 5,000 1,500

Committees A A(HS), HS

A, AS W C AS, I AS, B, C





B, W A(D, FO) FR A(D, HS) AS


W W C, FR A(FO, HS) B A(D) W FR(NE) FR(NE), HS AS, HS 35

paccharts_30-37_Pac Charts for May 2013 4/2/13 8:13 PM Page 36


Office District

North Carolina

North Dakota


Northern Mariana Islands Ohio S S S H H H H H H H H H H Oregon S H H H Pennsylvania S S H H H H H H H H Rhode Island S H H South Carolina H South Dakota S H Tennessee S H H Texas S S H H H H H H H H H Utah S H H Vermont H Virginia S S S H H H H 36

4 5 8 12


1 2 3 8 11 13 14 14 16 16 1 3 4

3 8 8 12 13 14 15 17 1 2 1

At-L. 5 9

1 2 12 16 18 20 30 33 35

3 4 At-L. 6 7 10 11


Price, David Foxx, Virginia Ann Kissell, Larry W. Watt, Melvin L. Berg, Richard A.*# Heitkamp, Heidi* Sablan, Gregorio K.C.

Brown, Sherrod* Mandel, Josh* Brown, Warren P. Chabot, Steve Schmidt, Jeannette H. Kilroy, Mary Jo Boehner, John A. Fudge, Marcia L. Ryan, Timothy J. LaTourette, Steven C. Joyce, David P. Sutton, Betty S. Renacci, James B. Wyden, Ronald L. Bonamici, Suzanneâ&#x20AC; Blumenauer, Earl DeFazio, Peter A. Casey, Robert P., Jr.* Toomey, Patrick J. Kelly, George J., Jr. (Mike) Boockvar, Kathryn Fitzpatrick, Michael G. Critz, Mark Schwartz, Allyson Y. Doyle, Mike Dent, Charles W. Holden, Timothy T. Whitehouse, Sheldon, II* Cicilline, David N. Langevin, James R. Scott, Timothy Thune, John R. Noem, Kristi L. Corker, Robert P., Jr.* Cooper, James H.S. Cohen, Stephen I. Dewhurst, David H.* Cruz, Rafael Edward (Ted)* Gohmert, Louie Poe, Ted Granger, Kay Reyes, Silvestre Jackson Lee, Sheila Gonzalez, Charles A. Johnson, Eddie Bernice Veasey, Marc A. Doggett, Lloyd Hatch, Orrin G.* Chaffetz, Jason Matheson, James D. Welch, Peter Allen, George* Kaine, Timothy M.* Warner, Mark R. Goodlatte, Robert W. Cantor, Eric Wolf, Frank R. Connolly, Gerald E. (Gerry)

Party D R D D R D D

D R Ind. R R D R D D R R D R D D D D D R R D R D D D R D D D D R R R R D D R R R R R D D D D D D R R D D R D D R R R D

Status I I I I O O I


2011-2012 Contributions 5,000 1,500 500 5,000 27,500 9,000 2,000

35,755 14,000 11,000 3,500 10,000 5,000 16,500 1,000 1,000 3,000 1,000 14,500 1,500 3,500 7,000 5,000 4,000 61,900 2,000 10,000 1,000 1,500 4,000 16,500 5,000 500 2,500 42,500 22,000 10,500 4,000 -500 500 21,500 4,000 5,000 1,000 16,000 4,000 10,000 6,000 1,000 1,000 4,500 2,500 1,000 1,000 17,500 6,000 6,500 5,000 24,500 17,201 2,500 4,500 7,000 1,000 2,500


Career 60,827 5,000 8,500 6,750 27,500 9,000 2,000

99,505 14,000 11,000 20,000 14,000 20,012 100,500 3,000 8,500 30,000 1,000 34,000 1,500 348,462 7,000 9,000 11,600 78,900 32,250 12,500 1,000 20,000 10,000 65,150 5,000 13,750 14,000 114,500 28,000 33,000 4,000 54,230 3,000 35,500 30,250 26,500 1,000 16,000 4,000 15,000 21,500 24,000 9,000 5,500 2,500 1,000 5,500 75,200 11,000 51,100 9,000 76,900 17,201 41,500 4,500 224,730 74,000 16,500

Committees A(HS) AS



House Spkr


B, I

B, W





B, C, I

Maj. Ldr. A(FO) FR(NE)

MAY 2013

paccharts_30-37_Pac Charts for May 2013 4/2/13 8:13 PM Page 37


West Virginia Wisconsin


Office District S H H H H H H S S S H H H H H H S

1 1 5 6 7 9 1 2 3 4 7 8



Cantwell, Maria* Inslee, Jay R. DelBene, Suzan K. McMorris Rodgers, Cathy Kilmer, Derek McDermott, James Smith, Adam A. Manchin, Joe, III* Baldwin, Tammy*# Thompson, Tommy G.* Ryan, Paul D. Pocan, Mark Kind, Ron Moore, Gwendolynne S. Duffy, Sean Ribble, Reid J. Barrasso, John A.*

Gingrich, Newt Romney, Mitt

Party D D D R D D D D D R R D D D R R R


Status I N O I O I I I O O I O I I I I I C C

2011-2012 Contributions 8,500 2,000 6,000 1,350 5,000 4,000 17,250 27,500 23,615 31,493 13,000 2,500 5,000 2,500 6,000 1,000 16,491

250 10,000

2011-2012 Total Contributions: Total Contributions (1978-2012): Total No. of Recipients (1978-2012):

Congress Watch… Continued from page 29

seven co-sponsors, including Inhofe, and S. 201 has only Paul. But two new measures were introduced to suspend the delivery of defense articles and services to Egypt. H.Res. 87, introduced Feb. 27 by Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) and 13 co-sponsors, would give the “sense of the House” that delivery of the articles and services should be suspended until Egypt meets certain conditions. On March 4 Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) and four cosponsors introduced H.R. 939, innocuously titled the “Support Democracy in Egypt” bill. It has nothing to do with democracy, however; it would suspend delivery of the articles and services until certain conditions are met. The “Egypt Accountability and Democracy Promotion” bill, H.R. 416, introduced by Ros-Lehtinen in January and described in the previous issue, “to condition security assistance and economic assistance to the government of Egypt in order to advance U.S. national security interests in Egypt, including encouraging the advancement of political, economic, and religious freedom in Egypt,” has made little progress. MAY 2013

It would cut off aid to Egypt unless the secretary of state certifies that a number of farreaching and unlikely conditions have been met. It now has 19 co-sponsors, including Ros-Lehtinen. Similarly, the previously-described H.R. 276, introduced in January by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), which would simply prohibit aid to Egypt, forever, has gained 10 co-sponsors and now has 20, including Buchanan. A new bill, H.R. 1039, introduced March 11 by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (RPA) and 22 co-sponsors, takes a different approach. It would “rescind unobligated amounts for foreign assistance to Egypt” and redirect the funds to the Defense Department’s tuition assistance program.

New Cluster Munitions Bills Introduced Identical bills were introduced in the House and the Senate on Feb. 28 prohibiting any U.S. department or agency from using any cluster munitions unless (1) they do not result in more than 1 percent unexploded ordnance, and (2) will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians. The bills do not prohibit or condition the export of cluster muniTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


11,344 5,500 6,000 1,350 5,000 6,000 26,325 36,500 28,615 31,493 21,750 2,500 6,000 2,500 7,500 1,000 27,491




B, W



91,912 10,000 $2,841,693 $53,769,058 2400

tions. S. 419 was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) with 16 co-sponsors. H.R. 881 was introduced in the House by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and two co-sponsors.

Benghazi and Dr. Shakil Afridi Continue to Get Some Attention The September 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya continues to serve as a vehicle for some Republicans to criticize the Obama administration. The previously described H.Res. 36, introduced in January by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), “establishing a select committee to investigate and report on the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya,” has gained 33 Republican co-sponsors and now has 60, including Wolf. The two bills introduced in January by Senator Paul regarding Pakistan’s jailing of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who played a part in the capture of Osama bin Laden, have drawn no support. However, one new measure, H.Res. 86, was introduced on Feb. 27 in the House by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (RCA) and 16 co-sponsors. It would express “the sense of the House of Representatives that Dr. Shakil Afridi is an American hero and that he should be immediately released from custody by Pakistan.” ❑ 37

ferguson_38-39_Special Report 4/3/13 9:27 PM Page 38

The Cyrus Cylinder—Often Referred to as The “First Bill of Human Rights” SpecialReport

By Barbara G.B. Ferguson

BELOW AND BOTTOM FACING PAGE Clay, Babylon, Mesopotamia, after 539 BCE D x H: 7.8-10 x 21.9-22.8 cm British Museum, London, ME 90920 Photo: ©The Trustees of the British Museum

he average person who stumbled upon

Tthe Cyrus Cylinder would never give it

a second glance. Indeed, who could imagine that this diminutive baked clay cylinder, no larger than a loaf of bread or an American football and inscribed with a minuscule, jagged cuneiform script, would have such a significant impact worldwide? The Cylinder comes with an improbable history. Buried under a wall for more than 2,400 years, it was discovered in Babylon [Iraq] in 1879 by British Museum archeologists. Broken in fragments and missing one-third of its text, no one could decipher the cuneiform. Years later, quite by accident, similar fragments were discovered lying randomly in a drawer at the British Museum. Even more improbable is that the cuneiform scholars at the British Museum recognized the “handwriting” on the cylinder as a particular Babylonian scribe’s calligraphy. This Barbara G.B. Ferguson, a former journalist and bureau chief based in Paris, London, and Washington, DC, currently works as a media and public affairs adviser for the U.S. Marine Corps. 38

RIGHT FACING PAGE: Gold Griffin-headed Armlet from the Oxus Treasure From the region of Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan, 5-4th century BCE W x H x T: 11.6 x 12.8 x 21.6 cm (at horns) British Museum, London, ME 124017 Photo: ©The Trustees of the British Museum

haphazard discovery helped cuneiform scholars decode the writing—so small that it is hard to notice by the untrained eye. Thus, quite literally, unrolls the narrative of Persian King Cyrus the Great’s conquest of Babylon in the 6th century BCE. The story has enough twists and turns for an Indiana Jones movie sequel, for the cylinder quickly became one of the most celebrated objects in world history, not only for what it said, but for what has been said about it. The Babylonian scribe who engraved the Cylinder attributed Cyrus’ victory to the Babylonian god Marduk—a spin that is viewed today as both royal and religious propaganda. Over the millennia, however, the larger legacy of Cyrus’ leadership has been adopted and reinterpreted. According to some religious scholars, Cyrus’ Cylinder was invaluable proof of the historical veracity of events described in biblical scripture. “Cyrus emerges—through Greek and Jewish records of that time—as a hero,” explained Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, during a Washington, DC press briefing held at the Smithsonian Institution’s Sackler Gallery, where it is on THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

display until April 28. The Cylinder also validated the Bible’s Book of Ezra, as it was Cyrus who allowed displaced Jews to return to Jerusalem. “The most important thing is…that Cyrus, when he conquered Babylon, would allow the deported people to return home,” said Julian Raby, director of the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art. “The cylinder talks about the places they would return to, and he would allow them to rebuild their sanctuaries—which we know from Jewish scripture—and this proves that the Jewish account was historically founded and not a myth.” Jewish scriptures said Cyrus proclaimed that the exiled Jews—who, the Bible says, wept by the waters of Babylon when they remembered Zion—could return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. Documents verifying this were never found, until the Cylinder was rediscovered in 1879. Later, then-supporters of the establishment of the state of Israel compared the actions of British King George V’s Balfour Declaration to those of Cyrus, allowing Jews to return to Jerusalem. But that’s just the half of it. The values MAY 2013

ferguson_38-39_Special Report 4/3/13 9:27 PM Page 39

“Cyrus himself was a guiding light for the Founding Fathers,” MacGregor told reporters. “Thanks to Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, he was thought to exemplify the qualities of the perfect king, and Cyropaedia and The Prince by Machiavelli were required reading for aspiring statesmen.”

After leaving Washington, the Cyrus Cylinder will be on display in Houston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Before returning to the British Museum in London, the cylinder will make a stop in Mumbai, where it has particular importance for India’s Zoroastrian community. For more information on the exhibit’s U.S. tour, visit <>. ❑

articulated by Cyrus, as conveyed by Classical Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon, admirers of his leadership, had a major influence on Europe and the U.S. What makes this man and his cylinder so remarkable is that he ruled 530 years before Christ. Cyrus’ declarations of tolerance, justice and religious freedom inspired generations of philosophers and policymakers, from ancient Greece to the Renaissance, and from the Founding Fathers to modernday Iran. A copy is even on display at United Nations headquarters in New York. In the 4th century BCE, Xenophon wrote Cyropaedia, a partly fictional manuscript that romanticizes the philosophies and education of Cyrus as the ideal ruler. The work greatly influenced Alexander the Great and, much later, was read by America’s Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson owned two copies of the Cyropaedia, one of which is on display in the current exhibit at the Sackler Gallery. He was so impressed by it that he wrote a letter to his grandson, urging him to learn Greek so he could read the Cyropaedia.

MAY 2013

It was Cyrus who defeated Nabonidus, the corrupt ruler who had conquered Jerusalem, burned down the temple, and carried off its treasures and its citizens to Babylon. When Cyrus captured Babylon, he not only rebuilt the walls of the city, but sent back gold statues to their original shrines, and people back to their homelands. He also figured out how to rule a vast new empire very differently than the Assyrians, who had been brutal invaders, and whose reign Cyrus followed. Under Cyrus the Persian Empire became the largest the world had ever known, stretching from the Balkans to Central Asia. It also was the world’s most diverse, unifying many tribes, languages and cultures across its vast distances. Tolerance was the hallmark of this efficient system, which lasted 200 years, until Alexander the Great conquered the region. Sackler director Raby informed reporters that we had gathered at the exhibition to “gawk;” he spoke with reverence of Cyrus’ declaration of religious freedom for his people and for a “new way of ruling,” where “peoples of the empire were treated as subjects, not objects.” But the exhibit’s focus is not only on the past. “One of the goals of this exhibition,” Raby explained, “is to encourage us to reflect that relations between Persians and Jews have not always been marked by the discord that disfigures the map of the Near East today.”



The Persian Empire Under Cyrus

ABOVE: Gold Plaque from the Oxus Treasure from the region of Takht-i Kuwad, Tadjikistan, 5-4th century BCE H x W: 15 x 7.5 cm British Museum, London, ME 123949


views_40-41_Two Views - May 2013 4/3/13 8:57 PM Page 40

Two Views


King Pyrrhus and the War on Iraq

Prosthetic legs for wounded American soldiers at the Center for Intrepid rehabilitation gym at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, Aug. 7, 2012.

Was Iraq Worth It? By Patrick J. Buchanan

en years ago, U.S. air, sea and land T forces attacked Iraq. And the great goals of Operation Iraqi Freedom? Destroy the chemical and biological weapons Saddam Hussain had amassed to use on us or transfer to al-Qaeda for use against the U.S. homeland. Exact retribution for Saddam’s complicity in 9/11 after we learned his agents had met secretly in Prague with Mohamed Atta. Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? Copyright © 2013 Reprinted by permission of Patrick J. Buchanan and Creators Syndicate, Inc. 40

Create a flourishing democracy in Baghdad that would serve as a catalyst for a miraculous transformation of the Middle East from a land of despots into a region of democracies that looked West. Not all agreed on the wisdom of this war. Gen. Bill Odom, former director of the National Security Agency, thought George W. Bush & Co. had lost their minds: “The Iraq war may turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in American history.” Yet, a few weeks of “shock and awe,” and U.S. forces had taken Baghdad and dethroned Saddam, who had fled but was soon found in a rat hole and prosecuted and hanged, as were his associates, “the deck of cards,” some of whom met the same fate. And so, ‘twas a famous victory. Mission accomplished! THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Soon, however, America found herself in a new, unanticipated war, and by 2006, we were, astonishingly, on the precipice of defeat, caught in a Sunni-Shi’i sectarian conflict produced by our having disbanded the Iraqi army and presided over the empowerment of the first Shi’i regime in the nation’s history. Only a “surge” of U.S. troops led by Gen. David Petraeus rescued the United States from a strategic debacle to rival the fall of Saigon. But the surge could not rescue the Republican Party, which had lusted for this war, from repudiation by a nation that believed itself to have been misled, deceived and lied into war. In 2006, the party lost both houses of Congress, and the Pentagon architect of the war, Don Rumsfeld, was cashiered by the commander in chief. Two years later, disillusionment with Iraq would contribute to the rout of Republican über-hawk John McCain by a freshman senator from Illinois who had opposed the war. So, how now does the ledger read, 10 years on? What is history’s present verdict on what history has come to call Bush’s war? Of the three goals of the war, none was achieved. No weapon of mass destruction was found. While Saddam and his sons paid for their sins, they had had nothing at all to do with 9/11. Nothing. That had all been mendacious propaganda. Where there had been no al-Qaeda in Iraq while Saddam ruled, al-Qaeda is crawling all over Iraq now. Where Iraq had been an Arab Sunni bulwark confronting Iran in 2003, a decade later, Iraq is tilting away from the Sunni camp toward the Shi’i crescent of Iran and Hezbollah. What was the cost in blood and treasure of our Mesopotamian misadventure? Four thousand five hundred U.S. dead, 35,000 wounded and this summary of war costs from the March 15 Wall Street Journal: “The decade-long [Iraq] effort cost $1.7 trillion, according to a the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Fighting over the past 10 years has killed 134,000 Iraqi civilians....Meanwhile, the nearly $500 billion in unpaid benefits to U.S. veterans of the Iraq war could balloon to $6 trillion” over the next 40 years. Iraq made a major contribution to the bankrupting of America. MAY 2013

views_40-41_Two Views - May 2013 4/3/13 8:57 PM Page 41

As for those 134,000 Iraqi civilian dead, that translates into 500,000 Iraqi widows and orphans. What must they think of us? According to the latest Gallup poll, by 2to-1, Iraqis believe they are more secure— now that the Americans are gone from their country. Left behind, however, is our once-sterling reputation. Never before has America been held in lower esteem by the Arab peoples or the Islamic world. As for the reputation of the U.S. military, how many years will it be before our armed forces are no longer automatically associated with such terms as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, renditions and waterboarding? As for the Chaldean and Assyrian Christian communities of Iraq who looked to America, they have been ravaged and abandoned, with many having fled their ancient homes forever. We are not known as a reflective people. But a question has to weigh upon us. If Saddam had no WMD, had no role in 9/11, did not attack us, did not threaten us, and did not want war with us, was our unprovoked attack on that country a truly just and moral war? What makes the question more than academic is that the tub-thumpers for war on Iraq a decade ago are now clamoring for war on Iran. Goal: Strip Iran of weapons of mass destruction all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran does not have and has no program to build. This generation is eyewitness to how a Great Power declines and falls. And to borrow from old King Pyrrhus, one more such victory as Iraq, and we are undone.

The Mother of All Battles By Eric S. Margolis

arch marked the 10th anniversary of M the Iraq war. In October 2002, I wrote a cover story about Iraq for the first issue of The American Conservative magazine entitled “The March to Folly.” My article predicted the impending invasion of Iraq would be a disaster for all concerned. The only victor of war with Iraq, I wrote, would be Israel, whose nuclear monopoly and regional domination would be assured. So it has come to be. Iraq was split into Shi’i, Sunni and Kurdish regions. Anger against the U.S. reached new intensity. The titanic bill for the Iraq war was $1 trillion, all of it hidden

in the ballooning U.S. national debt. Nearly 5,000 U.S. soldiers were killed; some 50,000 wounded, many with grave brain injuries. Iraqi casualties are uncertain, though the total is likely over one million. Parts of Iraq are contaminated by U.S. and British depleted uranium munitions. Diseases, wiped out under the late Saddam Hussain, have returned. Saddam’s sadistic secret police have been replaced by almost equally cruel security forces of the U.S.backed Baghdad regime. Once among the most advanced Arab nations, much of Iraq today is ruined. At least it no longer threatens its neighbors. Amazingly, America’s right wing and media still hail this disaster as a victory. Many Americans still believe the Bush administration’s lies that Saddam Hussain was behind the 9/11 attacks. Some also still believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that threatened North America. The politicians who concocted this war, namely George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Britain’s Tony Blair, have escaped any criminal censure for misleading their people into a conflict whose goal was to grab Iraq’s vast oil reserves and crush an enemy of Israel. Similarly, the many print and TV journalists and commentators who acted as cheer-leaders for the war and its bodyguard of lies remain prominently in public view today. So too the so-called military experts who championed the war. Instead of slinking away after the war, they simply switched their aim to Iran. Most shockingly, the insidious role of the pro-war neoconservatives in promoting the war was never fully revealed to Americans. Yet for a time, a pro-Israel neocon cabal linked up with aggressive big oil men like Cheney and Rumsfeld to drive the U.S. into a totally unnecessary war against former U.S. ally Saddam Hussain. Israel’s leader, Ariel Sharon, thundered, “the road

to Tehran lies through Baghdad.” The small number of American journalists, Mideast analysts, CIA and State Department experts who dared challenge Bush’s absurd claims about Iraq’s supposed nukes and “drones of death” lost their jobs and have been sidelined to this day. This writer, for example, was one of the first to assert in public that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no means of delivery even if it did. For my pains, I was blacklisted by a major U.S. national TV network for whom I had regularly broadcast. Other blacklistings followed. Bush’s modern-day Crusade against Iraq discredited the mainstream media in the eyes of many younger Americans and led to their growing reliance on their Internet. Polls showed that only 24 percent of Americans trusted media to tell them the facts. The U.S. media, with key exceptions, had followed the old Soviet media in acting as a mouthpiece for the government instead of a tribune for the public. The Iraq war accelerated the militarization of U.S. society and conduct of foreign affairs, and further curtailed individual freedoms endangered by the attacks of 9/11. It left the U.S. saddled with a crushing debt. While bridges and roads across America were crumbling, the U.S. was spending $80 billion on “rebuilding” Iraq. Nearly all this money was stolen and never seen again. The crushing of Iraq, a small nation of 24 million rent by rebellion and wrecked by sanctions, was shamelessly trumpeted by the U.S. media and politicians as a titanic victory for American arms akin to World War II. The aged U.S. Republican leader John McCain, made giddy by the jolly little war in Iraq, sang, “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” As King Pyrrhus exclaimed in 279 BC after a brutal, bloody battle, “one more such victory and we are lost.” ❑


Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. Copyright © Eric S. Margolis 2013. MAY 2013



maidhc-neocons_42-43_Neocon Corner 4/4/13 12:14 PM Page 42

The Incredible Tale of Gwenyth Todd and The “Naïve” Neocons NeoconCorner


By Maidhc Ó Cathail

U.S. Navy Adm. William Fallon, then commander of U.S. Central Command, testifies before Congress, April 18, 2007. He was accused by “whistleblower” Gwenyth Todd of having backed a rogue plot to provoke Iran in order to then attack the Islamic Republic. iven the proliferation of crimes, both

Gforeign and domestic, known to have

been committed by the U.S. government in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, there is an understandable willingness among large swathes of the public to believe almost anything told them by someone claiming to be blowing the whistle on an increasingly rogue “world’s policeman.” And, as a rule, the more persecution the whistleblower appears to suffer for exposing the global cop’s transgressions, the greater the desire to believe her story—no matter how far-fetched it might be. Earlier this year, an effort was made to interest a number of prominent alternative media outlets in just such a “whistleblower” story. According to the professional-sounding pitch, an American contractor named Gwenyth Todd, while adMaidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, <http://thepassionateattach>, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Twitter @O_Cathail. 42

vising the Bahrain-based U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, had single-handedly foiled a plot involving “a few select high-ranking members of the U.S. Navy” to provoke a war with Iran. “Fearing of the powers she had obstructed, and fearing for her own safety, Todd left Bahrain moving to Australia,” wrote the anonymous promoter. “For her honesty, bravery, and service, Todd has been sought after by the U.S. Justice Department for prosecution and pursued by the FBI. Nearly all in the corporate press have chosen to ignore her case.” But not only has Gwenyth Todd’s case not been ignored by the corporate press, it has in fact been the subject of a five-page Washington Post special by “SpyTalk” blogger Jeff Stein. Moreover, Stein’s Aug. 21, 2012 piece entitled “Why was a Navy adviser stripped of her career?” uncritically touts Todd’s conspiratorial narrative solely on the basis of interviews with Todd herself and “a half-dozen Navy and other government officials who demanded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, many parts of which remain classified.” Then, six months after having her story featured by one of America’s most influential pro-Israel daily THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

newspapers, Todd was the unlikely focus of an even more credulous Iranian state television production. In February 2013, Press TV released “Untold Truths,” a half-hour-long program that introduced her as a “Middle East specialist” and “former U.S. government consultant.” The production began with a dramatic assertion: “In 2007, the U.S. tried to wage a war against IRAN. One person stopped it. This is her story.” In the Washington Post and Press TV versions, the alleged conspiracy to start a war with Iran is said to have occurred in Bahrain in 2007. However, in a June 2012 article, Todd’s “senior editor” at the notoriously unreliable and ostensibly “anti-Semitic” Veterans Today (VT) website—with which Todd has “long worked” and currently serves on its motley editorial board of directors—sets the narrative two years earlier, and in a neighboring country. “Gwenyth Todd of the National Security Agency, close associate of Paul Wolfowitz and Condi Rice,” wrote Gordon Duff, “back in 2005, discovered a White House plot to stage an attack on American forces in Qatar.” Confusing matters even more, another VT colleague and enthusiastic promoter of Todd’s story, Kevin Barrett, claims in a September 2012 piece first published by Press TV, “She stopped a 2006 neocon plot to stage a false flag attack in Bahrain intended to trigger war on Iran, and had to flee for her life to Australia.” Although Todd presents herself as an “appalled” critic of the neoconservatives and the broader Israel lobby, there are good reasons to doubt her credibility on this point as well. In a Sept. 12, 2012 radio interview with Barrett, for example, she made the extraordinary claim that 9/11 was a “setback” for the neocons because it supposedly upset their plans for regime change in Iraq. According to Todd, their plan was to restore a pre-1958 type friendly regime, ruled by Ahmed Chalabi, with Iraq then serving as a base from which to launch regime change in Iran. In that same interview, she further claimed that the neoconservative agenda for Iraq had nothing to do with Israel. As if unaware of the fact that neocon Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz had once been investigated for having passed a classified U.S. document to an Israeli government official, she proffered as evidence, “Didn’t Wolfowitz admit to havMAY 2013

maidhc-neocons_42-43_Neocon Corner 4/4/13 12:14 PM Page 43

ing affairs with Palestinian students?” It seems highly unlikely, however, that a former top Middle East analyst such as Todd claims to be would be unfamiliar with Oded Yinon’s seminal 1982 article, “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s.” “Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets,” observed Yinon. “Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria.” And it seems even less likely that she would be unaware of “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” That influential 1996 report, prepared by a group of mainly American neocons for then-incoming Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, recommended “removing Saddam Hussain from power in Iraq—an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right.” Five years later, these right-wing Zionist policy advisers, many then members of the Bush administration, would seize the golden opportunity presented by the 9/11 attacks to turn this hawkish blueprint for Israeli expansionism into U.S. Middle East policy. Todd’s seeming ignorance of Israel’s longstanding strategic designs for the breakup of Iraq is even harder to believe in light of her claim to have been “personally recruited” by the “Clean Break” study group leader. In the Sept. 12 radio interview with Barrett, she recounted a conversation with Richard Perle—who, like Chalabi’s other chief booster, Wolfowitz, has also been caught passing classified material to Israel—that supposedly took place at the end of George Bush’s pre-inaugural candlelight dinner in January 2001. “Paul’s going, Paul Wolfowitz is going to be the deputy secretary of defense,” she claimed Perle told her. “You know what we are going to do in Iraq, and we need like-minded people in the Pentagon so we can make it happen.” When the interviewer expressed amaze-

ment that she had been approached directly by the so-called “Prince of Darkness” himself, Todd not very convincingly replied: “Yes, well, when I’d met him on a couple of...I’d been in conferences with him before.” Presumably in an attempt to explain how the reputedly Machiavellian Perle could have been so naïve as to have tried to recruit someone he’d only met at a few conferences, Todd recounted a car journey with Perle in the 1990s during which he supposedly raved about the analytic prowess of her predecessor at the Pentagon’s Turkey desk—based solely on the analyst’s rumored ability to talk to cab drivers in Turkish. Claiming to have been shocked by Perle’s “total naïveté,” Todd went on to say that she subsequently heard the exact same story from fellow Iraq war architect Bernard Lewis at the Aspen Strategy Group in 1997, when she found herself seated between “Judy” Miller and the influential pro-Israel Orientalist, whom she said has dedicated his The Emergence of Modern Turkey to “some good friends” of hers. Notwithstanding Todd’s claims to have been persecuted for thwarting a neoconbacked false flag designed to provoke war with Iran in December 2007—or was it in 2005? or 2006, perhaps?—she was asked in November 2010 to write a report on Turkey for Australia’s leading pro-Israel foreign policy think tank. Yet this past February, a mere week after she left little doubt in a social media conversation that she was fully aware of the founder and chairman Frank Lowy’s Israeli connection, Todd first feigned ignorance and then surprise in the comments section of The Passionate Attachment blog when this writer pointed out the Lowy Institute’s widely known close ties with Israel. And as for the alleged unwarranted pursuit by U.S. law enforcement, it may have much less to do with her claimed success


MAY 2013


in preventing war with Iran than with a mysterious sum of money of uncertain origin and unclear purpose. When questioned by the FBI in 2007 about $30,000 she had received from her daughter’s father, Robert Cabelly—who would be indicted in 2009 for conspiring to act as an illegal agent of Sudan and to violate sanctions against the government of Omar alBashir—Todd said she told the federal agents that the money was for “emergency surgery” in Bahrain. By a strange coincidence, this just happened to be the exact same amount she told The New York Times in February 2011 that she had once spent out of her own pocket to buy gifts for the children of the poorest Shi’i families. Todd said she had been ordered by a commanding officer, fearful of upsetting the ruling Sunni Al-Khalifa royal family, to renege on a promise made on behalf of the Navy. Indeed, the more one looks into the incredible tale spun by Gwenyth Todd, the more likely one is to agree with the former commander of U.S. Central Command, Admiral William J. Fallon—who in 2007 vetoed a move by the Bush administation to send a third carrier group to the Persian Gulf, vowing that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch.” Cast as an unlikely villain in Todd’s narrative, the retired four-star admiral was asked by The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein to comment on her conspiratorial allegations; Fallon’s terse email response—“B.S.” ❑

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adas_44-45_New York City and Tri-State News 4/2/13 8:16 PM Page 44

Princeton Scholar Examines Role of External Influence in Quest for Democracy


By Jane Adas

Prof. Amaney Jamal of Princeton. ince 2006 Amaney Jamal, professor of

Spolitics at Princeton University and principle investigator of the award-winning “Arab Barometer Project,” has been researching why, with democracy on the rise in much of the world—Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa—this is not also happening in the Arab world. Speaking in Princeton on Feb. 22 about her most recent book, Of Empires and Citizens, she observed that the question pertains even after the Arab Spring. There are many political theories about this issue, but none, according to Jamal, take into account external interference. In international hierarchy, when a dominant state exercises control over a weaker state, they are in a client relationship, she explained. When the client state is dependent both economically and militarily on the dominant state to the extent that its legitimacy is not derived from within its own society, it is an empire situation. This, Jamal argued, is the case in much of the Arab world. Since the U.S. has committed more money and is engaged in more conflicts in the Middle East than in any other region, she examined the role Jane Adas is a free-lance writer based in the New York City metropolitan area. 44

of U.S. policy in shaping democracy in the region. What Jamal has found is counterintuitive: those who are more pro-American are less likely to support democratic reform. She has found the highest support for authoritarian regimes among those who value trade and external business ties with the U.S. They fear that opposition movements, mainly Islamists, will threaten their country’s standing with the U.S. and destabilize the status quo. This is also true for Israelis, she added, who worry that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu might jeopardize U.S. support for Israel. On the other hand, those who are less comfortable with their country’s client status and express more anti-patron sentiments tend to be more in favor of democratic change and worry less about Islamists. Jamal sees secular wariness of Islamist issues as less about conservative ideology than concern for economic prosperity. In order to promote democracy in the region, Jamal advised “removing the factor that structures regime/society relations.” She is confident that if there were a change in Washington’s foreign policy, Islamists and other opposition groups would be less anti-American.

What It Feels Like to Be a Palestinian What does it feel like to be a Palestinian? This was the question Penny Johnson and Raja Shehadeh, co-editors of Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home (available from the AET Book Club) posed to 14 authors, poets and scholars. The book is an initiative of the Palestinian Festival of Literature (Palfest), to which the editors are donating all royalties. Three of the contributors spoke about being Palestinian at Columbia University on March 6. Suad Amiri answered the question succinctly: “exhausting!” The Ramallah-based architect said she “became a writer by accident.” Her first book, Sharon and My Mother-in-Law, won a prestigious award and “spoiled” her life because people no longer take her seriously. Amiri’s subsequent books include Menopausal Palestine: Women at the Edge and the forthcoming Golda Slept Here. And yet, when Amiri read excerpts from her contribution, some of her listeners were moved to tears: THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

New York City and Tri-StateNews And it is because of you (Palestine): Nothing in my life is normal Nothing in my life is neutral Nothing is mundane Or even insignificant And how very exhausting it is Palestinians are in danger of stereotyping themselves, Amiri warned: “Why bother to tell your personal story when there are a million others like you?” But, she continued, Palestine is not only refugees and demolished houses. “We have talent. We are clever.” Rema Hammami is professor of anthropology at Birzeit University and a translator of the late Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry. She described herself as a rarity: an exile who returned to Palestine. Since 1989 she has lived in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. There, because “Israel has reshaped the geography we live in,” Hammami explained, she has “slowly become an exile in Palestine, exiled from other Palestinians.” Her “Hope and Exile in East Jerusalem” traces the changes in Sheikh Jarrah from an elite neighborhood prior to 1948, to the preferred location for foreign consulates and the Mossad posts that kept tabs on them in a largely deserted neighborhood populated by “Miss Havishams”—elderly widows and maiden aunts who tried to hold onto the decaying mansions. Then came the gradual shutting off of East Jerusalem from the West Bank, which turned her commute to Birzeit in Ramallah into a nightmare and made it impossible for friends to visit. These days Sheikh Jarrah has become known for the constant demonstrations against Jewish settlers’ takeover of Palestinian homes. For Columbia University professor Lila Abu-Lughod, who grew up in the U.S. with a famous father and an American mother, being Palestinian is not always in the foreground. Yet she is “constantly stunned by what people say and believe. Blind to the everyday violence of checkpoints, imprisonment, racism and death; complicit in the rhetoric of retaliation and security; silent about the primary injustice of 1948….To be a Palestinian in America is to learn to navigate this chasm in understandings of the world, to feel the hostility.” Mayssun Sukarieh, visiting professor at Columbia University, spoke about how the residents of Beirut’s Shatila refugee camp MAY 2013

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their home villages is still feel about being the obintense, and reflected in ject of so much research. their food. Shatila, an icon of misery, To learn the stories site of the 1982 massacre, about how food gets to and conveniently located the table, the authors inonly 10 minutes from the terviewed farmers, fisherairport, is the subject of men, aid workers, econowell over a hundred mists and hydrologists. books and articles. For years Israel has held Funders of research in Palestinians in Gaza under the academic industry go siege, blockaded by land, for drama and poverty, sea and air. Because Israel Sukarieh noted, and it is does not allow Gazans to they who determine the export anything, except agendas. She mentioned a perhaps carnations and young female researcher cherry tomatoes, their only market is from an Ivy League college whose domestic. When Israel has an agriproject was HIV in the camps—only cultural surplus, it opens the border there were no HIV cases. Others long enough to dump the excess come with a missionary attitude, like goods, lowering the price of locally teaching how to be clean, which peogrown produce. When the Israeli orple find insulting. Residents told ganization Gisha asked the Israeli Sukarieh that when researchers focus government about the blockade, Elon the negative aspects of camp life, Haddad reported, the reply was that “They make us look bad. People will the goal was to allow only enough in think that if Palestinians can’t fix a to avoid a humanitarian crisis, but camp, how will they run a country?” not enough to promote developSukarieh recommended ethical rement. As a result, 80 percent of search, meaning listening to what people want to talk about instead of TOP (l-r): Lila Abu-Lughod, Suad Amiri, Mayssun Sukarieh Gazans are food insecure and depenimposing topics; being honest that and Rema Hammami. ABOVE: Gaza Kitchen co-authors dent on handouts. This situation, according to Schmitt, is advantageous the research project will not lead to Maggie Schmitt (l) and Laila El-Haddad. for Israel. Aid organizations pour better conditions; and doing homework so that interviewees don’t have to ex- opened the border, both were able to enter. massive amounts of money into keeping plain repeatedly the basics. They spent the hot summer of 2010, when Gazans alive. That money is used to purchase power shortages averaged 12 hours a day, Israeli goods at greatly jacked-up prices and The Story of Gaza Kitchen interviewing people and collecting recipes. thus becomes a constant source of inThe Gourmand International Cookbook At first people thought they were reporters come…for Israel. The food that Israel does Awards at a ceremony in Paris this past Feb- with cameras come to talk to the men allow in—cooking oil instead of olive oil; ruary named The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian about “the situation.” When they learned white flour and sugar instead of bulgur and Culinary Journey the Best Arab Cookbook of the subject was food, everyone wanted to grains—has less nutritional value, leading to 2013 (available from AET Book Club). This contribute. El-Haddad said they got into rising rates of diabetes and anemia. Palestinians in Gaza have been clever at beautifully produced book is surely that and the kitchens “where the real story is.” so much more, as the authors, Laila El-Had- Schmitt, who has travelled widely, said she adapting to Israeli constrictions. For examdad (author of Gaza Mom) and her friend has never felt so well received, and attrib- ple, the Israeli navy prevents fishermen Maggie Schmitt, made clear on the first stop utes that to Palestinian hospitality and the from going beyond three nautical miles in an apparent attempt to destroy Gaza’s traof their Gaza Cuisine Discovery Tour in New magic of talking about food. The authors described their goal as weav- ditional fishing industry. Two brothers York on March 12. Schmitt showed a typical Western media image of Gaza: an aerial pho- ing together three aspects: collecting the built chains of freshwater fishponds. Their tograph of an urban area with a bombed recipes as a testimony to Palestinian iden- success has inspired the government and building in flames, invoking destruction, vi- tity; the history of Gaza through food; and the private sector to imitate them. During olence, anonymous victims and terrorists. the economics and politics of food. Gaza has Israel’s Operation Cast Lead assault, chicken The spirit of the cookbook, she continued, is a long, proud tradition of haute cuisine, production in Gaza was wiped out, either to zoom into any window to see individuals some of it unique to Gaza, which reflects its by direct bombing or because chickens conducting their daily family life under ex- place as the last stop on the spice route from starved when farmers were unable to reach the East to Europe. The historical Gaza Dis- them. There is therefore a need to repoputraordinary circumstances. The idea for the cookbook was long in trict was much larger than present-day late by getting fertilized eggs through the the planning, but neither was allowed into Gaza. When Israel redrew the borders in tunnels. Meanwhile, women have taken to Gaza. El-Haddad, even though a resident 1948 and handed over the Strip to Egyptian raising rabbits on their rooftops and adaptof Gaza, was turned back with her chil- administration, refugees comprised 80 per- ing recipes accordingly. The authors endren. Then, after Israel’s attack on the cent of the population. Now in their third joyed a delicious rabbit meal cooked for Mavi Marmara, when Israel briefly or fourth generations, their commitment to them on a single butane burner. ❑ MAY 2013



pasquini_46-47_Northern California Chronicle 4/2/13 8:18 PM Page 46

Ramsey Clark Urges Americans to Say “No More” to Our Government Abusing Power

Northern California Chronicle


By Elaine Pasquini

Zaytuna College co-founder Dr. Hatem Bazian (l) listens to former Attorney General Ramsey Clark answer an audience member’s question.

Elaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 46

ABOVE: Michael Thurman holds a megaphone for Rainey Reitman to speak to the crowd gathered in San Francisco to mark PFC Bradley Manning’s 1,000th day in prison. RIGHT: Photos of Bradley Manning’s supporters from the Web site <www.iam> are displayed in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza. “One ship can hit 140 centers of human population and leave a crater 50 miles in diameter.” And discussing the use of drones by the Obama administration, Clark commented, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


talk on “Limits of Power” at Zaytuna College March 6. The event, which drew about 200 people, was held at the school’s newly purchased campus, the former University Christian Church in the Holy Hill area of Berkeley, near the Graduate Theological Union and Pacific School of Religion. In addition to serving as attorney general from 1967-1969 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, Clark also provided legal representation to the Palestine Liberation Organization for 30 years and founded the International Action Center in 1992. “The abuse of power by the United States government during my adult lifetime has been staggering,” Clark said. These abuses, he related, occurred in Iran in 1953, Pakistan in 1977, and in many other countries. “The most tragic of all,” he lamented, “was our invasion of Iraq. We dropped 87,500 tons of bombs—the equivalent of seven and one-half Hiroshimas—destroying infrastructure from one end of the country to the other. And every year since 1991 until 2013 there has been death occurring by violence every day. The United States government is responsible for this historic crime.” Clark went on to point out the dangers of the Trident submarines armed with nu-

clear warheads. “The largest warhead is 40 times the bomb that incinerated Hiroshima,” the activist attorney explained.

Rally for Bradley Manning “Free Bradley Manning! Free Bradley Manning!” chanted some 100 human rights supporters in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza on Feb. 23. For 1,000 days, Manning, the 25-year-old former intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army, has been incarcerated for passing classified documents to the whistleblower website Wiki Leaks, including the video “Collateral Murder,” which showed U.S. attack helicopter pilots killing 11 Iraqi civilians. For the first 10 months of his incarceration in Quantico, the Army private was tortured and held in solitary confinement—a fact which Judge Denise STAFF PHOTO E. PASQUINI

ormer U.S. Attorney General Ramsey

FClark delivered an eagerly anticipated

“Drones are what you might call long distance murder with a vengeance. “That’s why we depend on Christians, Muslims and those that seek peace to save us from ourselves,” Clark elaborated. “Just think what the world might be if all the monies that we have spent on death through military action and expenditures had been spent to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, educate, house and enlighten people. But, instead, we have seen government glorify the power of violence while ignoring its pity and claiming the right and power to kill any person, anywhere, at any time. We’ve lost control and it is our responsibility as human beings and people of faith to say ‘no more.’”

Lind acknowledged in her January ruling after a pretrial hearing. “Two-and-a-half years ago we made a promise to Bradley and his family that we MAY 2013

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would pay his entire legal Angels and continually bill for any legal team that urged everyone to subhe chose,” Gulf war resister scribe, calling it “the best Jeff Paterson told the source of information on crowd. “More than 16,500 what is going on in the people have donated to Arab world.” Alice was a Bradley’s defense and we board member, trustee and have raised almost $1 milformer president of San lion for him. We have been Francisco’s Arab Cultural sitting behind Bradley for and Community Center. each hearing and he knows Her other favorite organizaabout our support for him.” tions included the Arab Rainey Reitman, coFilm Festival, Institute for founder of the Bradley Middle East UnderstandManning Support Network, ing, American-Arab Antiadded, “One of the tactics Discrimination Committee, that the United States govand U.S. OMEN. In addiernment is using to deal A 1/5 scale replica of an MQ-9 Reaper drone crafted by, tion, she founded the Diawith the ‘Bradley Manning which provides drone replicas and educational materials to support citizen ac- blo International Resource problem’ is pushing his trial tion to achieve an international ban on weaponized and surveillance drones. Center to provide access to off again and again. Our international resources and fund-raising keeps Bradley’s family from was created by <>, which speakers on foreign policy issues. The having to mortgage their home to pay his provides drone replicas and educational ma- daughter of Lebanese immigrants and terials to support citizen action to achieve widow of Jerusalem-born Zafer Nashashibi, legal expenses.” Other speakers at the rally included Art an international ban on weaponized and Alice endlessly promoted Arab culture, orPersyko of the 99% Coalition, Mary Ann surveillance drones. ganizing lectures, cultural evenings and en“You can usually tell something about a tertainment events celebrating the Arab Thomas of World Can’t Wait and Denny society by the kind of military force it and Muslim world. Riley of Veterans for Peace. Photo messages from Manning’s support- wields,” World Can’t Wait’s Mary Ann ers both here and abroad were displayed in Thomas told the crowd. “Look at the kinds the plaza. These messages are part of an on- of weapons created and used by the U.S.— line “photo petition” on the website <www. poison gas in World War I, nukes in World War II, napalm against the Vietnamese>. Manning has supporters not only in the ple, white phosphorus in the Gulf war. Bay Area. Solidarity rallies for him were And now we have killer drones—the held in 70 cities around the world. Many Reaper, the Predator—murder by drone is veterans support him, including Veterans a strategy and it is made in America.” Although the U.S. government’s secret for Peace (VFP) Central Iowa Chapter 163 (see Nov./Dec. 2012 Washington Report, p. drone program began in 2002, Congress’ first briefing on the subject did not occur 66). In a Feb. 26 pretrial hearing, Judge Lind until former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) denied PFC Manning’s motion to dismiss all hosted a hearing last Nov. 16 at the Raycharges for lack of a speedy trial. Two days burn House Office Building. (See Jan./Feb. later, Manning pleaded guilty to 10 lesser 2013 Washington Report, p. 63). Kucinich, charges of providing military documents to along with Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX) and WikiLeaks. His trial on the remaining 12 Rush Holt Jr. (D-NJ), introduced H. Res. major charges, including aiding the enemy 819 on Nov. 28, which directs the U.S. atand violating the Espionage Act, is sched- torney general to release all documents relating to the use of drones in the practice uled to begin June 3 in Fort Meade, MD. “We need public awareness now, not of targeted killings of American citizens just for Bradley Manning, but for every and targets abroad. On Feb. 24, President Obama’s former Alice Nashashibi. whistleblower that comes in the future—post-Bradley Manning—that ex- press secretary Robert Gibbs told journalIn memory of Alice—who held a masist Chris Hayes in an MSNBC interview poses war crimes,” Reitman said. On March 4, Manning was nominated that he was told “not even to acknowledge ter’s degree in education and Spanish and for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. For more the drone program.” For more information taught in New York, Puerto Rico and Venezuela—a memorial fund for teachers information, visit <www.bradleymanning. visit <>. has been established at the Middle East org>. Alice Nashashibi (1928-2013) Children’s Institute (MECI). Founded by Decoding Drones Alice Nashashibi, a beloved icon in the Alice’s daughter, Lola, MECI works with Activists at the rally for Bradley Manning, Northern California Arab-American com- women and children who are victims of as well as tourists passing through Justin munity, passed away Feb. 20 in San Fran- war in the Middle East. Donations to the Herman Plaza, were intrigued by the one- cisco. A longtime supporter of the Wash- memorial fund will provide training of fifth-scale replica of an MQ-9 Reaper drone ington Report on Middle East Affairs, Alice Palestinian teachers. See <www.mecinsti displayed by World Can’t Wait. The drone was a member of the magazine’s Choir of>. ❑ MAY 2013



twair_48-49_Southern California Chronicle 4/3/13 2:39 PM Page 48

Anniversary of Syrian Revolution Observed

Southern California Chronicle

Syrian speakers (l-r) Suhaib al-Agha and Dr. Radwan Ziadeh with emcee Dr. Saleh Kholoki. ore than 380 people commemorated

Mthe second anniversary of the start

of the ongoing Syrian uprising March 16 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Garden Grove. Speakers were Suhaib al-Agha, director of government relations for the Syrian American Council, and Dr. Radwan Ziadeh, executive director of the Washington, DCbased Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “Who are we as a community?” al-Agha rhetorically asked the audience. “We have no representation in the American government or any member of Congress who is of Syrian ancestry.” Washington at first denied there was a Syrian spring revolution, he noted, but the grim statistic of more than 70,000 Syrians killed since 2011 made the U.S. admit a revolution is being waged against the government of Bashar Assad. Dr. Ziadeh comes from Darayya, a city which once had a population of 250,000, located west of the capital, Damascus. Owing to its strategic location, Ziadeh said, Darayya has paid a heavy price, and it is estimated that no more than 2,000 people remain there today. Prominent among Darayya’s martyrs is Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journalists based in Los Angeles. 48

the computer expert Ghayath Matar, who died under torture Sept. 10, 2011. Matar had earned the nickname of “the flower giver” for his courageous act of handing flowers to government soldiers. His friend, Yahia Shourabi, who was arrested with Matar, remains in prison. More recently, Darayya journalist Ahmed Shehade was killed during the burial of a friend on March 12. Massive graveyards have been found in Darayya where hundreds were massacred. Humanitarian aid is going to Darayya’s displaced refugees, who number 30,000 women, 75,000 children and 20,000 men. A message from Moaz al-Khatib, president of the Syrian National Coalition, via Skype from Syria rounded out the program.

country I love, I have three choices: act like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand; fight injustice; or choose the painful path of being called a traitor by nonviolently protesting,” explained Ascherman. It is this latter choice that has made the American-born rabbi so reviled by rightwing Israelis. The efforts of his organization are threefold: representing Bedouin rights in unrecognized villages in the Negev Desert; protecting Palestinians in the south Hebron Hills; and legally preventing more settlement building in Area C. Ascherman says Israel refuses to provide water, electricity, schools or civic services to Bedouin villagers living in the Negev, and tears down their settlements in an effort to relocate them to crime-infested towns which offer no employment and break their traditional links to camel-herding. Palestinians living in caves and villages in the south Hebron Hills are repeatedly attacked by Israeli settlers who poison their water wells and slaughter their sheep. The village of Susiya has been destroyed five times, Ascherman stressed, but the people refuse to leave their land. During the question-and-answer period, the rabbi said peace could be jump-started



By Pat and Samir Twair

Rabbi at All Saints More than 100 people gathered for an early March 3 meeting of the All Saints Episcopal Church Middle East Interest Group to hear Rabbi Arik Ascherman discuss his work in Israel-Palestine. The co-founder of Rabbis for Human Rights has been arrested repeatedly for defending Palestinians when threatened with eviction, home demolition or destruction of their crops by Israeli government troops and settlers. “When I, as a Jew, see darkness in a THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Rabbi Arik Ascherman. if the Arab League would insist on an end to Israeli stalling with endless peace talks while illegal Israeli settlements expand. In answer to a query about the eight-month hunger strike of Samer Issawi, he opined that Israel must either release or try prisoners held in administrative detention for years. The current practice could lead to a third intifada, he warned. MAY 2013

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“Mosaic” Introduces Artists

trial, activists gathered March 1 in front of the Los Angeles Israeli Consulate. A sea of Palestinian flags, banners and homemade signs informed motorists on busy Wilshire Boulevard that “$ to Israel Kills Palestinians,” and “Israel Killed 1,509 Palestinian Children in 2012 Using American Taxpayers’ Money” and urged, “Free All Palestinian Prisoners.” The event was sponsored by American Jews for Palestinian Right of Return and Women in Black/Los Angeles. ❑

“Mosaic: Beautifully Different” was the theme selected by Muslims for Progressive Values for its first cultural program staged March 2 in Plastik Café in West Los Angeles. Persian rugs and cushions set an informal stage and viewing area. The event opened with a performance by the Sababa La Zeez Group featuring Shaunti and Nar, with male belly dancer Saleem interpreting “Veils of Mutanabi.” Saleem performed two solo dances, one a classical Arab number and the other his innovation infused with Spanish and flamenco themes. Meymouna Hussein Cattan recited poems reflecting her life as a progressive Muslim woman from Ethiopia. Hussein and Natalie danced while translating into English Iranian poetry with a twist. Ani Zonneveld sang her exaltation of Islam, while comedian Mona Shaikh described Ahmadinejad’s yearning to travel in outer space. Saleem also recited his soliloquy “I Am Coming to America,” from his play, entitled “Getting Into My Skin.” Proceeds will go to <>.

Gaza on the Ground… Continued from page 23

Unemployment and Inflation

U.S. Survey in Turkey


Not only is Dr. Owen Doonan a professor of art history at California State University at Northridge as well as the curator for the impressive New Sahara Gallery specializing in the works of Arab artists, but remarkably he also is the director of archaeological surveys in the ancient Black Sea port of Sinop, Turkey. On March 11 he discussed his latest Turkish expeditions at the Calabasas Library. No stranger to this exotic region of the Black Sea, Doonan has been surveying the Sinop environs since 1996 and has documented nearly 400 human habitation sites there, a few as early as 8000 BCE. His focus is on Greek colony sites dating to the 7th to 4th centuries BCE. Utilizing detailed satellite maps that determine habitation sites, his teams have walked and stopped every 10 meters to collect samples such as pottery shards for ceramics analysis. Sinop was the most strategic port on the Black Sea, Doonan reasons, and it controlled trade routes and military access since it was founded as a Greek colony circa 630 BCE. The California-based scholar hopes to teach a class online this summer from his survey site in Turkey and has set his goal for a 15-year excavation of Sinop. For more information, visit <www.nml.>. MAY 2013

TOP: “Mosaic” artist Saleem (l) with an audience member. MIDDLE: Prof. Owen Doonan. ABOVE: March l protest for Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi at Los Angeles Israeli Consulate.

Hunger Striker Protest As Samer Issawi was completing his 212th day of a hunger strike protesting his administrative detention by Israel without a THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the lack of raw materials as a result of Israel’s embargo has increased the unemployment rolls by 371,000, leaving workers jobless and penniless. They rush to Abd El Aleem’s office pleading for aid in order to feed their children and heat their homes. The ever-increasing jobless rate means that 80 percent of Gaza’s population, which no longer can travel to Israel or the West Bank for employment, relies upon aid provided by U.N. agencies. Inflation also is rising inexorably. The cost of housing continues to increase due to repeated Israeli bombings and bulldozing, Israeli restrictions on building materials, and the inability to obtain building permits. An apartment on central Gaza City’s Falsteen Street, for example, costs more than $100,000. Given that the average annual household income in Gaza is $1,483, according to UNESCO, it would take more than 67 years of working—and spending no money—to earn that amount. Applying that ratio to the city of Los Angeles, where the average yearly household income is $56,266, the average family home would cost $3.8 million—more than 10 times today’s actual average price of $350,000. With more that 60 percent of Gazans living below the international poverty line, even those with income find housing increasingly cost-prohibitive. Abu Wissam can’t fathom who is able to afford such expensive apartments and houses, except for Gaza’s few remaining elites, NGO and international workers, or those running the tunnels. “It makes one sad to enter the homes of skilled workers here in Gaza, and in the kitchen there’s only one sack of bread and one of onions,” Abu Wissam laments. ❑ 49

brownfeld_50-51_Israel and Judaism 4/3/13 2:36 PM Page 50

Israel Discriminates Against Non-Orthodox Jews as Well as Against Muslims and Christians Israel andJudaism

By Allan C. Brownfeld


inspire American Jews and demonstrate that the state of Israel values the religious choices they make.” Writing in the Jan. 25 Forward, Rabbi Uri Regev, who heads Hiddush-Freedom of Religion for Israel, a nonpartisan and non-denominational Israel-Diaspora partnership for religious freedom and equality, reported that, “A new campaign is now under way to elect Rabbi David Stav, head of the Modern Orthodox rabbinic organization Tzohar, as the next Ashkenazic chief rabbi.” He noted that a possible deal has been struck between Stav and Shlomo Amar, the current Sephardic chief rabbi. According to Regev, “The Jewish Diaspora is being encouraged to rally support behind Stav’s candidacy based on the premise that with him the Israeli police arrest American Rabbi Susan Silverman (l), sister of comedian Sarah Silverman, and her Chief Rabbinate is going to be inteenage daughter Hallel Abramowitz, after they performed Rosh Hodesh prayers at Jerusalem’s West- clusive...This is indeed just an ilern Wall, Feb. 11, 2013. lusion. In the case of Amar the picture is clear. His sentiments ccording to Rabbi Eric Yoffie, former In Yoffie’s view, “American Jews are fed against non-Orthodox Judaism are so strong president of the Union for Reform Ju- up. They have had enough. They are fin- that he issued a statement attacking the daism, the fact that non-Orthodox branches ished being understanding and patient. They Supreme Court for ordering the state of Isof Judaism, which represent the majority of will no longer accept that Reform and Con- rael to recognize Reform and Conservative Jews throughout the world, do not enjoy servative rabbis are scorned and despised in rabbis serving in rural communities. He dereligious freedom in Israel is alienating Israel; they will no longer sit silently while monized Reform Judaism as ‘destroyers, terAmerican Jews. Israel’s official representatives offend them rorists, God’s enemies’ and worse. Coming Rabbi Yoffie penned an open letter to Is- and denigrate their religious practices. You from the Chief Rabbinate, these attitudes raeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in have seen some of this newly aroused anger against Jewish pluralism, gender equality the Jan. 29 edition of the Israeli newspaper in the reaction of Diaspora Jewry to the ar- and the like, are increasingly offending the Haaretz. The headline read, “Dear Prime rests and detentions at the Western Wall; and overwhelming majority of world Jewry.” Minister, U.S. Jews Are Fed Up With Not this is only the beginning. And make no misRegev went on to point out that “Both Being Valued.” take: the angry voices are not coming from candidates, as well as the others whose “American Jews are exceedingly agitated the ranks of the indifferent or the fringe left. names have come up for the post, hold the about issues of religious freedom,” Yoffie They are coming from the heart of American view that Israel should exercise religious wrote. “...the simple fact is that the failure Jewish leadership.” coercion and deny both non-Orthodox and of Israel to offer recognition and support for Advising Prime Minister Netanyahu, secular Jews their freedom of and from rethe streams of Judaism with which the great Yoffie declared: “You could point out that ligion. Instead, what Israel needs is to fully majority of American Jews identify is noth- only 2 million of the 13.5 million Jews in realize its founding promise for ‘freedom of ing less than a disgrace—and an obstacle to the world are Orthodox, and that the over- religion and conscience’ as envisioned in Isengaging fully on all the other issues on Is- whelming majority of American Jews come rael’s Declaration of Independence—nothrael’s agenda.” from the Reform and Conservative streams. ing more and nothing less...Celebrating reYou could say that those streams are the ligious freedom will make Israel both more Allan C. Brownfeld is a syndicated colum- heart of our Jewish family...Then you democratic and more Jewish. Perpetuating nist and associate editor of the Lincoln Re- could say that you will use the authority of a coercive Chief Rabbinate...achieves the view, a journal published by the Lincoln In- the prime minister’s office to assure that al- exact opposite.” stitute for Research and Education, and edi- locations will be made available to synaIn its 2010 Report on International Relitor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the gogues and rabbis of the Reform and Con- gious Freedom, the U.S. Department of State American Council for Judaism. servative streams...This is a time for you to declared that “Israel continues to discrimi-




MAY 2013

brownfeld_50-51_Israel and Judaism 4/3/13 2:36 PM Page 51

nate on the basis of religion in both policy and law, against non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jewish movements.” Among other things, the report said that Israel “gives preference in the allocation of state resources for modern Orthodoxy and ultra-Orthodoxy, both their institutions and organizations.” The State Department report found that “the government selectively implements limitations on freedom of religion.” However, “Most of the Jewish citizens oppose this type of exclusive Orthodox control over the basic foundations of private life.” The report emphasized the fact that non-Orthodox Jews living in Israel have received citizenship by virtue of a Supreme Court ruling, “and despite this have been deprived of the right to marry and raise a family in Israel.” Hiddush’s Uri Regev said of the State Department report that it “...reveals to the world the sad fact that in the area of religious freedom, Israel is closer to radical Islamic countries than the Western democratic world. There is no other civilized democracy in which there is such large-scale negation of the principle of religious freedom. The U.S. State Department describes precisely and at length how the Israeli government violates the rights to marriage, freedom of worship, respect for women, immigrants’ rights, rights of non-Jewish citizens and many other issues. It is difficult to seriously discuss social justice without freedom of religion and it’s time the Israeli government stopped crushing it.” The State Department report detailed a number of violations of religious freedom. One relates to prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, which in 2008 was designated for “men only.” Ultra-Orthodox officials have “harassed groups of visiting Jews worshipping at the Western Wall who did not uphold Orthodox traditions. Repeatedly, women have been arrested for praying at the Wall.” In February, 10 women, including two American rabbis—one of them the sister of comedian Sarah Silverman—were detained by Israeli police. They are part of the group Women of the Wall, which has gathered each month for the past 24 years to protest the ultra-Orthodox insistence that only men may pray at the wall wearing traditional religious vestments, a rule that has been backed by the Israeli Supreme Court. “It’s just ridiculous that there are laws against Jews praying wearing their prayer clothes in Israel,” said Rabbi Susan Silverman, who was detained along with her 17year-old daughter. “Two of the rabbis who were there had just come from Kiev, where they had prayed entirely freely as Jews. They come to Israel, they pray at the wall, and they’re arrested.” According to the State Department’s 2011 MAY 2013

report on the status of religious freedom in Israel, “Non-Orthodox converts to Judaism are not able to marry in the country, as they do not meet Orthodox standards...personal status matters for Jews are controlled by the Chief Rabbinate, which does not recognize non-Orthodox converts to Judaism as Jews...Reform and Conservative converts in the country cannot marry or divorce in the country and cannot be buried in Jewish cemeteries...The only in-country Jewish marriages the government recognizes are those performed by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate, which excludes citizens without maternal Jewish lineage...The government does not allow civil marriages...Civil marriages, non-Orthodox marriages of Jews or interfaith marriages must take place abroad to be recognized by the government.” The Chief Rabbinate, the report declares, “determines who is buried in Jewish state cemeteries, limiting the right to individuals considered Jewish by Orthodox standards. This exclusion of persons who consider themselves Jewish, usually descendants of Jewish fathers but not Jewish mothers, has led to public criticism, especially during national tragedies, such as the December 2010 burial of a Carmel fire victim at a military cemetery...Government authorities prohibit mixed-gender prayer services at Jewish religious sites...” Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 guarantees freedom of religion and

conscience and equality of social and political rights irrespective of religion. Although the Declaration itself does not confer any legally enforceable rights, the High Court has held that “it provides a pattern of life for citizens of the State and requires every State authority to be guided by its principles.” Sadly, contemporary Israel seems to be guided by principles which are quite the contrary. How can we explain the reaction of such American Jewish organizations as the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League? When it comes to our own society, they demand a strict separation of church and state. Yet when it comes to Israel they seem comfortable with theocracy, even when the forms of Judaism practiced by most American Jews have no legal rights or standing. Where in the Western world are Reform and Conservative rabbis unable to preside over Jewish weddings, funerals or conversions? Is religious freedom something they believe in only when Jews are a minority? Most American Jews, as Rabbi Yoffie declared, do believe in religious freedom and are increasingly alienated from an Israel which seems indifferent to this basic element of a free and democratic society. Many voices in Israel itself want to move their country away from its current domination by the ultra-Orthodox. Thus far, they have had few successes. ❑




opm_52-53_Other People's Mail 4/3/13 4:39 PM Page 52

Other People’s Mail Compiled by Dale Sprusansky Objectivity Needed

Zionism is Racism

Dangerous Resolution

To The [Grass Valley, CA] Union, March 25, 2013 Whether the issue at hand is U.S. policy regarding the use of drones or the alleged American complicity in Israel’s hell-bent desire to settle its citizens in territories it occupied back in 1967, what’s really striking about the daily cascade of news from the Middle East is the constant reminder of how utterly biased our policy in the region really is. Washington, DC both says and does very little to banish the notion that it cares only about its Israeli surrogate and also about maintaining the smooth flow of Arabic petroleum to Western markets. This has been our approach regarding these matters for many years. The Palestinians, certainly, long ago dispensed with any illusions they might once have had about U.S. fairness and objectivity. In their eyes, Obama is just one more American politician who obediently caters to the powerful Israeli lobby. Their decidedly negative assessment of our president can only be confirmed in spades by the fact that he will be spending the overwhelming preponderance of his time in Israel. Politically speaking, the Palestinians amount to a mere afterthought in Obama’s eyes. Fairness and objectivity in our Middle East policy? They don’t exist. Frank W. Goheen, Camas, WA

To the Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2013 Many thanks to Ian S. Lustick for his deeply insightful critique of the everresurfacing Zionism that threatens to destabilize the fragile coexistence of the entire region. Zionism by any other name in any other setting would be understood as racism and condemned as such. It is tenacious, implacable and outdated. Israelis and Palestinians must be prepared to compromise to achieve a two-state solution. Zionism, imperialism or any other “ism” that would block or replace tolerance and cooperation has no place going forward in creating a better life for all who live in and love this long-suffering region. Peace really can happen, and the parties must settle for nothing less. Marianne Menter, Canoga Park, CA

To The Oregonian, March 29, 2013 Don’t let Israel take us to war with Iran. Thanks to The Oregonian for publishing the excellent op-ed by Rebecca Griffin and Kelly Campbell, “Congress is making it easier to go to war with Iran.” Their concern is with Senate Resolution 65, which states, “[if] the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in selfdefense, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel.” The legislation, therefore, essentially gives Israel the power to commit the government and people of the United States to a third war in the Middle East, a war that would be a disaster for the region, for us and for the whole world. The decision to take the United States into war should not be made in another country. Curtis Bell, Portland, OR

Stop Israel Aid To The Olympian, March 28, 2013 As tax day draws near, ask yourself if you want to keep paying taxes to Israel. What, you say? Each year the U.S. gives Israeli citizens money by sending about three billion USA taxpayer dollars to Israel. Can we really afford to send Israel eight million tax dollars every day of the year, year after year? Last year, and this year, we are giving Israel an additional $200 million for the Iron Dome defense program. Are Israel and its supporters so poor that they can’t afford their own security? Next time you hear that we can’t afford more teachers, medical care, or transportation support, think of the $8 million a day in taxes we give away to just this one privileged nation. Patrick Yirka, Olympia, WA 52

Wasted Trip To the Toronto Star, March 25, 2013 President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and Palestine will be seen by the Arab world and some European nations as an endorsement of the illegal Israeli occupation and settlement of Palestinian land and the sometimes brutal, daily harassment of Palestinian civilians. His four-hour meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah was nothing short of a slap in the face. His advice to Abbas to drop his demand that Israel freeze settlements as a condition of peace talks shows a total failure to grasp reality. Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has shown, from recent statements, that neither he nor his new government will move to a two-state solution. As for a freeze on settlements, key ministries in his cabinet have gone to the hard-line pro-settler party of Naftali Bennett— hardly a bright prospect for land return to the Palestinians. President Obama promised continuing military aid to one of the best-armed and efficient fighting forces in the world, a nation that is now a major arms and war technology exporter. A more courageous U.S. leader would have tied all future Israeli aid to a landgrab freeze and meaningful talks. Manuel Escott, Vancouver, BC THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Offer Iran Concessions To The [Cedar Rapids, IA] Gazette, March 30, 2013 Sanctions are having an effect on Iran’s economy. Inflation is at 400 percent. Six months ago, merchants in Tehran staged a violent boycott, and last week farmers went on strike and then burned 10 Revolutionary Guard buses when the guard was sent to put down the strike. There is tremendous political infighting among President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Ayatollah, the Guardian Council and the Revolutionary Guard as they position for the June presidential election. A key election issue will be the economy. Iran cannot stand another year of the crippling economic sanctions. After the election, the United States needs to restart negotiations and come up with a face-saving way for Iran to allow unfettered access for U.N. inspectors to all of its facilities, scientists and programs. The United States must say Iran can keep the peaceful parts of the nuclear program and can keep enriching uranium. We need to make concessions for Iran to agree to such access. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will object to these concessions because he doesn’t believe Iran will do what it says it will. President Barack Obama will need to keep Netanyahu out of the picture MAY 2013

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and repeatedly tell Iran that Netanyahu does not speak for the United States. William Peterson, North Liberty, IA

many of their innocent, cherished lives have so cruelly been aborted? Tejinder Uberoi, Los Altos, CA

Anti-Islamist Bias

No Drone Medals

To The Economist, March 9, 2013 Your briefing on Syria’s civil war inadvertently revealed a common and worrying bias (“The country formerly known as Syria,” Feb. 23). Across the Middle East, secular authoritarianism has easily meted out as much, if not more, violence and oppression as militant Islam. But still we are told to fear people of faith and dismiss their concerns and sentiments. “Few of the protesters who started the uprising two years ago were very devout,” you wrote. That is questionable. It also confuses political Islam with religiosity. Islamists aren’t necessarily devout, nor do they monopolize religious devotion. And so what if the protesters were devout? Imagine if we used another adjective, such as “secular,” “Alevi,” or “Christian.” Syrians, like Libyans, Egyptians and Tunisians, were oppressed, suffocated, tortured and even killed for daring to express their religious beliefs. They have as much right to protest as anyone else. Haroon Moghul, Washington, DC

To The Times [of North West Indiana], March 11, 2013 I, like other combat vets, view the medals for drone operators as a slap in the face. Those who fought and died for this country and others are being downgraded. These guys are not in combat zones; they operate drones by computers. Gilbert Reese, Griffith, IN

Real Drones Issue To the San Jose Mercury News, March 14, 2013 Unfortunately, Rand Paul’s filibuster concerning the issue of drones was more political theater than addressing the more critical issues surrounding these terrifying weapons. Of far greater importance is their clear violation of international law, invading the sovereignty of other nations and targeting their citizenry—often with appalling results. It is worth repeating the study results of Stanford Law School/NYU and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at City University in London, which estimated 98 percent of drone attacks killed or injured innocent civilians. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that such attacks are creating a visceral hatred of the U.S. and have served to be a great recruitment tool of our foes. It defies logic why President Obama should persist in this failed and dangerous policy. Due process must not be bypassed for the sake of expediency. Minimizing “boots on the ground” logic is extremely vacuous. Those boots should never have been in foreign lands in the first place. We were outraged when terrorists violated our cherished land and committed violence on 9/11. How can we be so insensitive to other countries’ sentiments when so MAY 2013

Need to Close Guantanamo To The Washington Post, March 21, 2013 President Obama’s Jan. 22, 2009 executive order required review of all detainees held at Guantanamo Bay and closure of the prison within a year. It was recognized that appropriate disposition of all detainees would further our national security interests. On Jan. 22, 2010, a review task force approved the transfer of 82 detainees after finding no basis for prosecution. Those detainees continue to languish in their cells. Conditions of detention are sometimes misunderstood, as evident in Charles Krauthammer’s March 15 op-ed column,

WRITE OR TELEPHONE THOSE WORKING FOR YOU IN WASHINGTON. President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20500 (202) 456-1414 White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111 Fax: (202) 456-2461 Secretary of State John Kerry Department of State Washington, DC 20520 State Department Public Information Line: (202) 647-6575 Any Senator U.S. Senate Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-3121 Any Representative U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-3121

E-MAIL CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE E-mail Congress: visit the Web site <> for contact information. E-mail President Obama: <> E-mail Vice President Joe Biden: <>


“Codify the drone war,” in which he lamented: “George W. Bush was excoriated for waterboarding exactly three terrorists, all of whom are now enjoying an extensive retirement on a sunny Caribbean island (though strolls beyond Gitmo’s gates are prohibited).” As a former counsel to one of the detainees, I can tell you that such a statement suggests he has not been to the prison. The Post more accurately described the hopeless and desperate plight of the detainees, noting that: “In January, the administration closed the State Department office charged with negotiating the transfer of detainees and accelerating the closure of the facility.” Mr. Obama had it right in 2009. Detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay undermine our foreign-policy interests by serving as a recruiting tool for terrorists. Instead of shuttering the office charged with negotiating detainee transfer and closing the prison, the Obama administration should be redoubling its efforts to achieve those ends. Garry R. Boehlert, Washington, DC

Remember Costly War To The [Central PA] Patriot-News, March 21, 2013 As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, the human and financial costs undermine any claims that it was worth it. Figures for counting the Iraqi civilian dead are clouded by the politics in Iraq and in the U.S. Some estimate 120,000 killed by direct war, while the respected medical journal The Lancet estimated 654,965. Indirect deaths related to malnutrition, the lack of reliable electricity and water, and environmental decay should be counted, too. Almost a million Iraqi children lost one or both of their parents. An estimated 28 percent of Iraqi children suffer from PTSD. Also unemployment for women and widowhood further worsens the society and the economy. The U.S. price tag for the Iraq war—including estimates for veterans’ medical care and disabilities—is about $2.2 trillion. No wonder the U.S. budget deficit is so great. During the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, President Obama said the U.S. was leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant country. This statement is subject to debate, as many consider Iraq to be a failed state plagued by corruption, discrimination based on religion, and rampant crime. Recent demonstrations calling for more responsive government suggest Iraq has embarked on its own “Arab Spring.” Mary Bonaccorsi Herzel, Lower Paxton Township, PA ❑ 53

activisms_54-70_May 2013 Activisms 4/2/13 3:09 PM Page 54

Arab American Activism

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s (ADC) Women’s Initiative honored four extraordinary Arab American women on Sunday, March 10, at the Westwood Country Club in Vienna, VA. ADC’s president Warren David and Dr. Amal David, ADC Women’s Initiative chairwoman, along with Jennifer Matta, the evening’s emcee, welcomed the 350 guests. Warren David energized the crowd, emphasizing that ADC depends on the involvement of each member. He described the “Three Ps of ADC” as Protecting civil and human rights, Promoting mutual understanding, and Preserving the Arab culture and identity. He gave an update of ADC activities, including its work to gain Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrian nationals and becoming a voice for immigration reform. ADC has demanded an investigation of the death on Feb. 23 of Palestinian Arafat Jaradat while in the custody of Israel’s General Security Service, Shabak (Shin Bet), at Megiddo Prison. ADC has reminded Secretary of State John Kerry that the Leahy Law prohibits the U.S. from sending aid to governments whose security forces commit gross violations of human rights, including the torture and death of Jaradat, who was accused of throwing stones. David concluded by reminding guests to support the Kahlil Gibran Appreciation Initiative to honor the great philosopher, poet, artist and writer with a U.S. postage stamp in 2016. So far more than 5,383 people have signed ADC’s petition. Dr. Alma Abdul-Hadi Jadallah, a scholar who specializes in national and international conflict resolution, along with women’s empowerment, discussed the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day. Jadallah, who is president of Kommon Denominator, Inc., in Fairfax, VA, challenged Western stereotypes about Arab women and emphasized that women in Palestine, Syria, Egypt and other countries are leading the social movements working for democratic change. Following the speeches, an awards ceremony recognized local Arab-American women. ADC honored Palestinian-American peace activist Grace Said for her contributions to her community. Said, who works passionately for justice and peace, is a very active board member of Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), the Washington 54


ADC Celebrates International Women’s Day By Honoring Four

ADC’s Women Initiative honors Grace Said at its second International Women’s Day event. (L-r) Jennifer Matta, Said, Dr. Amal David, Warren David and ADC chair Dr. Safa Rifka. Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace (WIAMEP), the American Friends of the Spafford Clinic, Al Shabaka and the Palestinian Policy Network. Said described her frustration at “the lack of information about our culture and the ignorance about our history,” as well as the portrayal of Arabs in U.S. media. She urged her fellow Arab Americans to break down stereotypes and be the best in their chosen professions—but to also make time to get involved in ADC’s work. “Choose something meaningful and share it with others,” Said concluded. Egyptian-American Dr. Jehan El-Bayoumi was honored for her contributions to science. The head of the George Washington University Hospital’s residency program has also helped care for poor ArabAmerican patients, as well as many others. “ADC is back on track and coming back to its roots,” Dr. El-Bayoumi told the audience. She urged young Arab-American women to enter the field of science and medicine. Social justice is a key issue, she stated, and improving health and wellbeing for everyone is essential. Dr. El-Bayoumi also acknowledged the brave women fighting oppression in the Arab world. The problems in Egypt, Morocco, Syria and Iraq...everything stems from Palestine, she concluded. “We must never forget or allow them to be left alone.” Majida Bargach, a Moroccan who won the Green Card Lottery, was honored for her contributions to education. Bargach, a professor and interim director at the University of Virginia, is a role model and ambassador for women in Morocco as she works to dispel stereotypes and build bridges. Palestinian-American artist Manal Deeb was honored for her contributions to the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

arts. Her artwork has been featured by the Jerusalem Fund Gallery in Washington, DC and at the United Nations. The dinner included an art auction, run by Laila Mokhiber, showcasing Deeb’s art as well as works by Baha Al-Omari Khikhia, Jiji Khikhia, Shahanz Alrawiy and Rana Antar. The celebration concluded with live jazz performed by Lena Seikaly, with Zack Pride on the bass and guitarist Dave Mosick. —Delinda C. Hanley

Arab Attitudes Toward Iran James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), released a poll on Arab attitudes toward Iran at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC on March 5. The results of the poll were the focus of a panel discussion titled “The Rise and Fall of Iran in Arab and Muslim Eyes.” The November 2012 poll, which was carried out in 17 Arab countries and three non-Arab countries (Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan), resulted in two major findings, Zogby said. First, the poll showed declining support for Iran throughout the Arab world. In 2006, Zogby noted, 80 percent of Arabs held a positive view of Iran. “Since then, there has been a steady drop,” he said, pointing out that Iran is now viewed negatively in 14 of the 20 countries polled. Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria and Libya are the only countries where Iran is viewed favorably, Zogby said, while Kuwait is evenly split. In the opinion of Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Wilson Center’s Middle East program, the Iranian regime’s harsh response to the 2009 Green Movement severely damaged the country’s reputation in MAY 2013

tack would likely result in an outpouring of Arab support for Iran, he predicted. “If anything would reopen the door that Iran has worked hard to close on itself, it would be a military strike on Iran,” Zogby concluded. —Dale Sprusansky

Human Rights Coalition Calls for the Release of Imprisoned Women The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), a group of civil liberties organizations, held an event at the National Press the region. “I think suddenly the Arab polled. The second poll produced the same Club in Washington, DC on March 8 to destreet was faced with the brutality of the numbers, he said. In follow-up questions, mand the repatriation of Pakistani national Lebanese indicated their pro-Iran attitudes Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and the compassionate Iranian regime,” she said. Zogby added that Tehran’s decision to sup- were based on the belief that Tehran plays release of New York lawyer Lynne Stewart. port Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has a positive role in ensuring their belea- Both women are currently being held at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. been extremely destructive to the country’s guered country’s security, Zogby said. George Washington University professor In March 2003, Siddiqui, who received image in the region, as only residents of Iraq and Lebanon—two of Syria’s three Arab Marc Lynch said he found the growing her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Brandeis neighbors—view Iran’s role in Syria posi- anti-Shi’a sentiment in the region highly University in Massachusetts, became a pertively. “Syria is…the nail in the coffin of Iran’s disturbing. Washington must not attempt son of interest to the United States after she favorable rating across the region,” he opined. to flame this divide in an effort to isolate was allegedly named as an al-Qaeda fiSecond, Zogby said, the poll reveals a Iran, he emphasized, warning that doing nancier by accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid growing sectarian divide in the Middle so could “come back and haunt us [the Sheikh Mohammad while he was being waterboarded. Siddiqui’s family claims PakEast. Citing data from Sunni-majority Saudi U.S.] very powerfully and deeply.” Lynch also reminded policymakers not istani and American authorities kidnapped Arabia, he noted that while 85 percent of all Saudis held a positive view of Iran in to place too much weight on a single poll. her later that month in Pakistan as she was 2008, fewer than 20 percent now hold this Tehran, he said, likely interprets the poll driving to the airport with her children. Following her kidnapping, Siddiqui view. This dramatic decrease in popularity much differently than Washington. “It’s is fueled by sectarian tensions, Zogby ar- very important that we not project our claims she was taken to Bagram Air Base in gued: while 90 percent of Saudi Shi’i view own reading of this data onto Tehran,” he Afghanistan where she was raped and torIran favorably, almost none of the country’s stressed. Iranians “see a region where tured for five years. The U.S. government America’s allies are under siege, where Is- maintains it did not detain Siddiqui in Sunnis have a favorable view of Iran. Lebanon is the only country whose citi- lamic movements are on the rise,” he elab- Afghanistan and says it does not know her zens—regardless of religion or sect—con- orated, and believe that America is mis- whereabouts for those five years. In July 2008, Siddiqui mysteriously apsistently express favorable views of Iran, reading the region. Despite Iran’s strong unfavorable num- peared on the streets of Afghanistan and Zogby pointed out, noting that support for Iran seems to be the only issue that unites bers, Zogby said citizens of the region do was arrested for allegedly carrying notes highly sectarian Lebanon. Zogby attrib- not support foreign military intervention on how to make bombs and carry out a teruted this support to the fact that Iran was against the Islamic Republic. In fact, an at- rorist attack. While being questioned by U.S. authorities in Afghanistan, the only country that stood up Siddiqui is said to have shot at her against Israel’s 2006 onslaught interrogators with an abandoned against Lebanon. gun. Siddiqui has vehemently deAl Arabiya’s Washington, DC nied these accusations and insists bureau chief, Hisham Melhem, the American men shot at her questioned the accuracy of the rewhen they mistakenly thought sults from Lebanon. “There is no she was attempting an escape. way under the sun that 84 perNevertheless, Siddiqui was cent of the Lebanese would have charged with attempting to mura favorable view of Iran,” he der the U.S. authorities and was stated. Indeed, Melhem noted, a sentenced to 86 years in prison May 2012 Pew Research poll after being found guilty by a found that 61 percent of Lebanese New York City jury. have an unfavorable view of Iran. Sara Flounders, co-director of In response, Zogby acknowlthe International Action Center, edged that he, too, was stunned by the results from Lebanon and Retired U.S. Army Col. Anne Wright advocates on behalf of Dr. and Sue Udry, executive director of the Defending Dissent Foundaordered that the country be re- Aafia Siddiqui and Lynne Stewart. (L-r) James Zogby presents the findings of his poll, as Haleh Esfandiari, Hisham Melhem, Barbara Slavin and Marc Lynch listen.



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MAY 2013



tion, said the government’s allegations against Siddiqui do not add up. “There is no evidence at all to back it up,” Flounders said. “When you first listen to her [Siddiqui’s] story, you just can’t believe it,” said a mystified Udry. Retired U.S. Army colonel and former U.S. diplomat Anne Wright questioned why the U.S. never brought terrorism-related charges against Siddiqui given the fact she was detained for supporting alQaeda. In Wright’s opinion, Siddiqui was used by the American government to prove “it was finding and going after terrorists in Afghanistan.” Wright said individuals in the U.S. military know the truth about Siddiqui’s case and must speak out on the prisoner’s behalf. “It is so important that we in America realize that people in Pakistan are calling for the release of Aafia Siddiqui,” Wright said, noting that many Pakistanis passionately support Siddiqui. Joe Lombardo, national coordinator of UNAC, said he saw many pro-Siddiqui signs throughout Pakistan on his recent trip to the country. Lynne Stewart represented some of the country’s most despised defendants during her extensive legal career. In 2005, Stewart was charged with conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists for helping her client, Sheikh Omar AbdelRahman (“the blind sheikh”), pass messages to followers of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, an Egyptian organization labeled as a terrorist group by the State Department. Stewart was initially given a sentence of 28 months; after a government appeal, however, her sentence was extended to 10 years. Speakers noted that Stewart suffers from stage-four breast cancer. Wright described her as “a political prisoner with serious health issues…a woman who should be compassionately released by the government.” Stewart’s husband, Ralph Poynter, said the prison prevented Stewart from receiving treatment for her cancer for 18 months. When she finally did receive medical attention, Stewart’s doctor said her cancer was the worst he had ever seen, Poynter said. Poynter said Stewart is loved by her fellow inmates because she has become a vocal advocate for their rights. When Stewart returned to the prison from her stint in the hospital, the prisoners sanitized the living quarters to ensure their advocate had a successful recovery, he noted. “She has changed the nature of the prison just by who she is,” he proudly pointed out. —Dale Sprusansky 56


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Marvine Howe describes the humane immigration policies of Portugal and Spain.

Music & Arts Interculturalism in Iberia Author and journalist Marvine Howe discussed her latest book, Al-Andalus Rediscovered: Iberia’s New Muslims (available from the AET Book Club) at a March 30 appearance at Georgetown University’s Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Washington, DC. Her appearance was co-sponsored by Georgetown’s BMW Center for German and European Studies. In his introductory remarks, Jonathan A. Brown, professor of Islamic studies and Muslim-Christian understanding at Georgetown, cited several of Howe’s earlier books, including Morocco: The Islamist Awakening and Other Challenges (also available from the AET Book Club) and Turkey: A Nation Divided Over Islam’s Revival. The former New York Times correspondent and Ankara bureau chief began her remarks by noting that, with the exception of the Spanish soccer team’s No. 1 FIFA ranking, “most of the news out of Iberia is bad,” given the recession and soaring unemployment. “It was another world when I began the book” in 2006, Howe recalled. Both Spain and Portugal had flourishing economies, and were the top destinations for immigrants to Europe—in large part because the two countries welcomed Muslim and other immigrants. In an effort to develop a more humane immigration policy, Lisbon and Madrid implemented what came to be known as “inTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

terculturalism,” with an emphasis on intermingling rather than side-by-side coexistence, and equal rights for citizens and immigrants alike. While the policy had different manifestations, Howe said—very centralized in Portugal (with 40,000 Muslims), more decentralized in Spain (home to 2 million)—the principle was the same. Curious as to why these two countries were able to create such an innovative and humane immigration policy, Howe said she concluded that it was not an effort to make amends for such historical events as the 1492 expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Spain or the countries’ colonial pasts. Instead, she was told by Portuguese and Spaniards alike, “We are emigrant nations, and thus have a special empathy” with immigrants to their shores. “We wanted to do better,” they explained. Moreover, Howe noted, the Iberian peninsula has a history of outreach to the Middle East—even under Francisco Franco—and today seeks to attract Middle Eastern investment. Howe described Spain and Portugal as “leaders in the anti-’clash-of-civilizations’” effort, noting that their citizens and governments do not distinguish between Middle Easterners and Muslims. There have been bumps in the road, of course: Howe cited the economic recession, a few terrorist attacks, and the increased presence of radical Muslims in the post-9/11 era. For the most part, however, the reaction of the governments and citizenry has not been extreme. There have been no race riots since 2000, she pointed out, and the Muslim communities have dealt quietly but effectively with radical clerics in their midst. Even as Muslims are leaving due to the failing economy—although many are retaining their Spanish or Portuguese citizenship— mosques are opening their doors to their non-Muslim neighbors. “Interculturalism is working and has a good chance to work,” Howe concluded. “Iberian Islam is here to stay.” —Janet McMahon

One-Woman Show Informs Americans Veteran Broadway singer-actress Cynthia Sophiea has put her knowledge of being a second-generation Arab American to good use by penning a highly-charged soliloquy of 26 characters in which she relates the dilemmas, fears and heartbreaks of Arabs trying to cope with life in the U.S. and the Middle East. What’s more, she’s performing her eye-opening show, entitled “Everyone Has Tears,” this spring in different venues across the country. MAY 2013

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Waging Peace

Singer-actress Cynthia Sophiea after performing “Everyone Has Tears.” The pencil-slim, titian-haired Sophiea kicked off the season with a 20-minute segment from her show March 22 at the 20th Anniversary Los Angeles Women’s Theater Festival. She sang and portrayed Sitti, a Lebanese grandmother consoling her granddaughter for being called a camel jockey as she tells the child how she came to the U.S. In an instant, with the broadcast news announcement of the hijacking of an El-Al jetliner, Sophiea is transformed into her Palestinian cousin Salim, vociferously voicing his resentment of Israeli brutality. From the remarks we heard from the audience, Sophiea got her message across. On March 29 and 30, the multi-talented entertainer ran the gamut of characters from aunts, uncles and cousins of a Lebanese family, members of a Haifa clan, a youngster from a refugee camp, a Beiruti hairdresser, even a Jewish human rights worker and some of the show business types the author has met up with. The 70minute show was performed in West L.A.’s The Imagined Life Theater. Students at California State University Pomona will meet Sophiea’s characters on April 15. As always, audience members whisper remarks of recognition as they see in person the actress who has guest-starred in prime-time TV series such as “Desperate Housewives,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Bones,” to name a few. Sophiea has paid her dues as a performer going back to the original Broadway cast of “Victor, Victoria,” and now it’s time to see her national tour of an Arab American expressing “Everyone Has Tears.” On May 18 at 7 p.m., she will perform a 10-minute piece from her show as part of the Manhattan Girls Concert at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. For more information, email <>. —Pat McDonnell Twair MAY 2013

Harvard University professor Stephen Walt, co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (available from the AET Book Club), appeared at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC on Feb. 28. His remarks masterfully outlined “Why American Foreign Policy Keeps Failing.” Walt began by describing U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War as “at best mixed, at worst a failure.” Among other things, he noted, Washington has failed to achieve Middle East peace, could not prevent nuclear breakout in India, Pakistan and North Korea, and failed to prevent the genocide in Rwanda. According to Walt, the two factors that explain America’s dysfunctional foreign policy are the position of the U.S. in the international system and the behavior of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Walt proceeded to outline the many challenges the U.S. faces as head of the international system. As the world’s only remaining superpower, he said, the U.S. often forgets that there are limits to its power. Global primacy “makes it hard to resist the temptation to always be doing something,” he opined. The tremendous scope of the U.S. foreign policy agenda, Walt continued, means that Washington struggles to set priorities. America finds win-win situations hard to come by, he added, as it often has to jeopardize one strategic goal in order to achieve another. Another challenge the U.S. faces is the fact that “there are no easy problems left,” Walt said. Issues such as the establishment of a stable government in Afghanistan, dealing with the North Korean government, and the Arab-Israeli conflict are “all almost intractable problems” that leaders have long been unable to solve, he noted. American leaders either don’t know how to solve these issues or do not think they are worth the political price to fix, Walt added. America’s power negatively influences the decisions of other countries, Walt continued. Russia and China have intentionally stalled Syrian initiatives at the U.N. as a means of checking America’s power, he said. Other countries, such as Israel, act with impunity because they are backed by the United States, he added. Furthermore, Walt noted, leaders such as Afghan President Hamid Karzai are able to act as they wish by becoming “the only game in town.” These leaders, Walt explained, can blackmail the U.S. by threatening to step THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS



Prof. Stephen Walt Slams U.S. Foreign Policy

Prof. Stephen Walt urges the U.S. to show greater restraint in its foreign policy. down—thereby leaving Washington without a point man in the country. Among the domestic issues Walt identified as hindering U.S. foreign policy is the fact that most major Washington, DC-based think tanks promote a strong U.S. presence in the world. He named the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation as examples. Walt cited the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute as one of the few organizations that advocates for American restraint. The American foreign policy establishment tends to “exaggerate threats” and forget that the U.S. is the “most secure great power in modern history,” Walt said. This mentality, he noted, results in the U.S. making unwise foreign policy decisions, such as supporting dictators who give the U.S. security assurances. By exaggerating threats, the foreign policy establishment is able to convince Americans that their country should keep an activist foreign policy, Walt explained. A major issue within the U.S. is the lack of real debate over foreign policy, Walt argued, noting that certain subjects are taboo and thus never up for debate. U.S. policy toward Israel is the ultimate example, Walt said. “It’s almost impossible to have an open discussion on this topic,” he stated. Those who do depart from the foreign policy consensus can’t “expect to advance professionally,” Walt continued. “To be credible in the foreign policy establishment, you have to sound hawkish.” Excessive government secrecy is another issue, Walt said, one which hinders the public’s ability to assess policy. He cited the ongoing drone war as an example, asking, “How can we judge the efficacy of the drone war without information about what we [the U.S. government] are doing?” 57

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Given the tremendous number of impediments to good policymaking, the real question, Walt concluded, should be “Why does it [U.S. foreign policy] ever succeed?” —Dale Sprusansky



(L-r) Emma Sky, Ambassadors Samir Sumaida’ie and Ryan Crocker, and moderator Rajiv Chandrasekaran discuss the current state of Iraq.

(L-r) Zbigniew Brzezinski, moderator Jessica Tuchman Mathews and Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster discuss the lessons of the Iraq war.


The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace held a March 21 event at its Washington, DC offices to discuss the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The event, titled “America’s Second-Longest War: Taking Stock,” assessed the current state of the Iraqi nation and the financial cost of the war to the U.S. The event began with a panel discussion featuring former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, former Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Samir Sumaida’ie and Yale University professor Emma Sky. There currently is “a great deal of dissatisfaction among Iraqis,” particularly when it comes to the job environment and the security situation, Ambassador Sumaida’ie noted. “The country seems to be in a situation where it’s not moving at all,” he lamented. Oil plays a central role in the calculus of Iraqi politicians, the ambassador explained, because “whoever controls the resources controls the system of patronage that builds the power structure.” If this reality is to change, he said, an atmosphere of accountability must be instilled in Iraqi political culture. American influence in Iraq has decreased since 2003, Ambassador Sumaida’ie continued. “The Iraqi government does not see the American presence as an integral part of its political calculation,” he observed. “There is more weight for what the Iranian regime thinks about political decisions in Iraq.” Agreeing that “Iranian influence in Iraq is greater and ours is less,” Ambassador Crocker nevertheless dismissed the idea that Tehran calls the shots in Iraq. Just because the U.S. no longer has a large military presence in Iraq does not mean it can’t have influence in the country, he argued: “You can still have substantial leverage in international politics without military forces.” Ambassador Crocker urged President Obama in his second term to “engage Iraq more frequently and at higher levels,” something he said the administration has failed to do thus far. Addressing another aspect of the current situation, Professor Sky observed that “Relations between Kurdish leaders and Baghdad have probably never been so poor…. We’re back at the beginning of 2003/2004.” The Kurds, she said, do not trust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and fear he is becoming an autocrat. In particular, Kurds re-


Iraq Ten Years Later

Prof. Linda Bilmes says the Iraq war could end up costing the U.S. $6 trillion. main frustrated at the lack of progress made on key issues such the status of the disputed Kirkuk governorate, Sky noted. Believing they will not be able to resolve their differences with Baghdad any time soon, she said, Erbil is actively pursuing a policy of economic independence. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

In the second session, Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes provided an assessment of the Iraq war’s cost. The U.S. has spent $3 trillion dollars on the war to date, Bilmes said, and likely will end up spending a total of $5-6 trillion on the war by the time all veterans’ benefits are paid. Bilmes pointed out that, historically, the bill for war comes due 30-40 years after the war is completed, as this is when veterans’ healthcare costs reach their peak. She cited as an example the fact that World War II payments reached their peak in the late 1980s. The Iraq war caused oil prices to spike tremendously, which had an extremely devastating effect on the American economy, Bilmes noted. Before the war, the price of oil was $25 a barrel and was forecast to remain in this range, she said, but since 2003, oil has rarely gone below $100 a barrel, peaking at $140 a barrel in 2006. “The U.S. lacks any kind of system to track war costs,” and thus has no way of making sure money is spent wisely and efficiently, Bilmes disturbingly pointed out. “The Pentagon’s accounting systems are so flawed that there’s no way to even perform an audit,” she added. MAY 2013

“By ignoring the costs [of the war] we made it much easier to make poor choices,” Bilmes opined, adding that those who did question the Bush administration’s prediction that the war would cost $50-60 billion were punished harshly. Speaking on the final panel, Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster said the U.S. misled itself into believing the Iraq war could be won quickly and cheaply due to advances in technology. The general said the U.S. also suffered from “narcissistic war planning,” as the country assumed it could dictate the outcome of the war. General McMaster concluded by saying that the war should serve to remind the U.S. that war is uncertain, a profoundly human endeavor, a contest of wills, and is waged to achieve political outcomes. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, the decision to invade Iraq has caused the standing of the U.S. in the world to decline. He urged the U.S. not to make the same mistake and launch a military campaign against Iran. —Dale Sprusansky

Turkey-PKK Cease-fire On March 21, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan called on his fighters to halt their 29-year armed struggle against the Turkish state. To assess what the historic cease-fire means for Turkey-Kurdish relations, the Brookings Institution held a March 20 event at its Washington, DC offices titled “Turkey’s Kurdish Question: A New Hope?” Kemal Kirişci, director of Brookings’ Turkey Project, moderated the discussion. Journalist Aliza Marcus began by questioning the viability of the cease-fire, arguing that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is stage-managing the peace process in order to achieve a favorable outcome. According to Marcus, Erdoğan chose Öcalan as a negotiating partner because the imprisoned leader is isolated, has limited contact with his fellow Kurds, is not an experienced negotiator and desperately wants to be released from jail. Negotiating with the PKK’s Öcalan also excludes and potentially undermines other important Kurdish groups, Marcus warned, most notably the popularly elected Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Brookings senior fellow Ömer Taşpınar said he doubts the BDP will feel neglected by their exclusion from negotiations, noting that BDP leadership “seems to be okay with Abdullah Öcalan being in charge.” Marcus cautioned that the cease-fire will only lead to sustained peace if Prime MinMAY 2013


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(L-r) Ömer Taşpınar, Aliza Marcus and Gönül Tol assess the prospects for a lasting peace between Kurds and Turks.

ister Erdoğan addresses the underlying causes of Kurdish anger. In particular, she said, the Turkish government needs to give Kurds greater equality under the law, address calls for Kurdish self-rule, allow the PKK to become a legal political party and release Kurdish prisoners. Taşpınar agreed, but cautioned that appeasing Kurdish demands will not be easy. While the Kurdish issue was once resolvable by granting Kurds greater cultural rights, this is no longer the case, he warned. Today, Taşpınar explained, Turkey’s Kurds have high political expectations beyond multiculturalism. “I’m not very optimistic about his [Erdoğan’s] ability to address these expectations,” he stated. In Taşpınar’s opinion, Prime Minister Erdoğan decided to pursue dialogue with the PKK because he came to realize that the root causes of the Kurdish problem cannot be resolved as long as there is bloodshed. The politically ambitious prime minister also hopes the cease-fire will better position him in Turkey’s upcoming 2014 presidential election, Taşpınar said, noting that the Turkish people view the Kurdish problem as their country’s most pressing issue. Gönül Tol, director of the Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies, predicted that the post-Arab Awakening regional climate will serve to complicate PKK-Turkey peace. In particular, Tol said, the Syrian crisis has regionalized the PKK issue. Since the Syrian uprising began, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a PKK offshoot, has gained considerable influence in the warravaged country, she noted. Tol said the PYD has become strong and popular because it carries out municipal work and provides security and social services in Syria’s Kurdish areas. The PYD’s important role in Syrian politics has “emboldened the Kurdish political movement in the region,” Tol said, as many


Kurds now believe they may be on the precipice of an historical breakthrough. Ankara fears that this new sense of empowerment may make the PKK less likely to compromise, she added. Tol cited strained relations between Turkey and Iran as another potential roadblock to a lasting peace. While Tehran and Ankara have cooperated against the PKK in the past, she noted, this cooperation agreement has collapsed. Furthermore, Tol said, Tehran reportedly has cut a deal with the militant Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) against Ankara. Ironically, Tol said, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq “is the only regional ally of Turkey.” The two are both rooting for the fall of the Assad regime in Syria and have begun economic integration, she noted. —Dale Sprusansky

Panelists See Hope for U.S.-Iran Negotiations The Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Stimson Center co-hosted a March 4 event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC to discuss the outcome of talks held between the P5+1 and Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Feb. 26 and 27. The discussion, titled “Understanding the Behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” was moderated by Stimson Center Middle East fellow Geneive Abdo. University of South Florida professor Mohsen Milani began by arguing that the international sanctions regime imposed on Iran by the West has been a failure. Instead of dividing the regime and halting the advancement of Iran’s nuclear program, he noted, sanctions have only served to make the lives of ordinary Iranians difficult. Sanctions have “angered the Iranian people,” added Bijan Khajehpour, managing partner of Atieh International. Many of the nation’s 75 million people view them as illogical and hypocritical, he said. 59


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(L-r) Prof. Mohsen Milani, Geneive Abdo and Bijan Khajehpour agree that nuclear talks between Iran and the West are headed in a positive direction. Milani continued his criticism of U.S. policy by decrying the fact that Washington has relied almost exclusively on “the stick” (punishment) and has offered Tehran few “carrots” (rewards). Khajehpour agreed with Milani, explaining that “if you want to change the dynamics, you have to offer those carrots.” The heavy use of “the stick” has led the Iranian regime to believe that the U.S. is looking to undermine the Islamic Republic, Khajehpour said. “From his [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s] point of view, Iran is being attacked,” Milani added, noting that Iran sees actions such as the ongoing Stuxnet computer worm attacks as acts of war. This skeptical view of the U.S. is reflected in a message Ayatollah Khamenei posted on his Web site in early March, Khajehpour noted. In his online posting, the ayatollah accused the U.S. of lying that sanctions will be lifted once Tehran agrees to negotiate. The ayatollah said that Washington’s main goal is propaganda and expressed his belief that the U.S. wants Iran to succumb to Western demands. Khamenei also accused the U.S. of being illogical negotiators and said that Iranian officials will only respond to “logical words and deeds.” If a nuclear compromise is to be reached, Khajehpour said the U.S. must acknowledge Iran’s role in regional affairs—particularly in Syria and Afghanistan. “You have to move away from this single issue narrow [nuclear] approach,” he said. Milani added that the U.S. needs to leave room for the ayatollah to declare victory in order to reach a deal. While this may be a tough pill for Washington to swallow, he noted that President John F. Kennedy used this approach to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis. In a Feb. 16 speech, Ayatollah Khamenei outlined what he desires from the U.S. in negotiations, Khajehpour noted. The ayatollah called on Washington to stop bully60

ing Iran, prove that it is acting in good will, respect Iran’s rights, stop interfering in Iran’s internal affairs and show through its words and actions that it is acting rationally. Both Milani and Khajehpour felt that the Kazakhstan talks offer hope for the future. In particular, Khajehpour said, the fact that both sides agreed to begin a “diplomatic process” is a significant and positive development. In the days following the meeting, Khajehpour noted, Iranian officials appeared on various media outlets expressing optimism. “Things are taking a turning point and I think the Almaty meeting will be [seen as] a milestone,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters in Vienna. Milani said he believes that this positive spin is an indication that “the Islamic Republic is preparing itself for negotiations with the U.S.” This move, he hypothesized, could also be an effort to prepare the Iranian people for any concessions the regime may make to solidify a deal. In the long term, Milani hopes that, despite their irreconcilable differences, the U.S. and the Islamic Republic will have basic diplomatic relations. He noted that during the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union maintained relations despite the fact that the two sides were persistently trying to undermine one another. Iran, Milani pointed out, poses a much smaller threat to the U.S. than the U.S.S.R. ever did. —Dale Sprusansky

Atlantic Council Discusses Sectarian Violence in Pakistan On March 13, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center in Washington, DC hosted Hassan Abbas, professor of international security studies at the National Defense University, and Knox Thames, director of THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

policy and research at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, to discuss “Ending Ethnic and Sectarian Violence in Pakistan.” The discussion was moderated by the director of the South Asia Center, Shuja Nawaz. Delivering extended opening remarks, Nawaz said that “virtual pogroms” against minorities “have created a pall over the future of Pakistan.” Recalling the recent sectarian attacks in the urban centers of Lahore, Quetta and Karachi, Nawaz lamented the short-sighted battles for supremacy raging in the cities. He also stressed that blame lies not only with Pakistan’s civilian government, but also with its military and civil society, in inadequately addressing sectarianism. Describing the government’s response as “inadequate,” Thames stressed that not only may Pakistani Shi’i engage in reciprocal violence, but that sectarian groups may develop “regional if not international aspirations.” He expressed particular concern that anti-Shi’i violence might spill into neighboring Afghanistan, where American forces are scheduled to withdraw in 2014. He also emphasized the need for more visible consequences for perpetrators of violence, and suggested international engagement with the provinces, beyond the federal level in Pakistan. Thames suggested that the U.S. assist Pakistan in reforming its educational curricula to “help undermine the mindset of violence.” He stressed that “to really move the central government to stop the current violence…harder steps must be taken.” The U.S. should designate Pakistan as a country of particular concern, he said, listing the latter as “one of the worst violators in the world.” While the situation of Pakistan’s Shi’a minority is deplorable, Abbas stressed, the rising violence has targeted all sects, and attacks on Sufi shrines that draw vast Shi’i and Sunni visitors represent the most heinous effects of this sectarianism. It is a “widespread phenomenon” where “ordinary Pakistanis are being hit on an everyday basis,” Abbas lamented. The current Shi’i-Sunni conflict has little historical precedent, he pointed out, and is a consequence of contemporary local and regional politics. Low levels of democracy, poor economic conditions and general lawlessness all are contributing to the violence, he added. Cautioning against conflating tribal rivalries with sectarian violence, Abbas also pointed to the mixing of religion and politics in engendering the violence. Recommending reforms, Abbas prioritized a radical overhaul of the Pakistani edMAY 2013


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(L-r) Knox Thames, Prof. Hassan Abbas and Shuja Nawaz suggest ways to end violence in Pakistan, including directing U.S. aid to Pakistan’s civilian police force. ucational curricula to include the study of Sufi poets and other indigenous pacifists. He also emphasized the need for police reform, and lamented that much of the American assistance since Sept. 11 had been directed toward the Pakistani military, instead of its civilian police force. Abbas concluded by recommending that the U.S. not be partial in its support. Instead of throwing its weight behind a particular sect or minority, it must uphold the basic principles of human rights, he advised. —Hamzah Saif

Ambassador Sherry Rehman Discusses U.S.-Pakistan Relationship


Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, appeared at the Atlantic Council’s Washington, DC offices on Feb. 26 to discuss her nation’s relationship with the U.S. The event, titled “Rebuilding the U.S.Pakistan Relationship,” was hosted by the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

Ambassador Rehman began her remarks by stressing the importance of using the 2014 withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan as an opportunity to rebuild and reassess the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. Over the past few years the two countries have been talking past each other, she said, causing them to forget their shared strategic goals. She urged Washington and Islamabad to work to “bridge the cognitive disconnect between the two countries.” Historical issues, particularly the U.S. abandonment of Pakistan following the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, continue to linger and harm the relationship, Ambassador Rehman observed. Pakistan believes that these trust issues need “to be addressed squarely before they are taken out of the room,” she explained. Ambassador Rehman predicted that Pakistan’s completing its first peaceful democratic transition later this year will improve U.S.-Pakistan relations: “That is where we build the hope for tomorrow, that it is one

democracy speaking to another.” The ambassador also opined that Pakistan’s burgeoning democracy will help the country battle extremism, stating that democracy “builds buttresses against extremism of many kinds.” As the 2014 NATO pullout from Afghanistan nears, Ambassador Rehman said, Pakistan has deep security concerns. “We have a timeline of eminent anxieties approaching as this draw-down happens,” she said, adding that the country is bracing for a surge in drugs, guns and militancy. She described this fear as ”completely understandable, because if we didn’t [have this fear], we would have learned nothing from the past [1989].” Noting that 46,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives to terrorism over the past decade, Ambassador Rehman said that her country wants the U.S. to show “some strategic sympathy for what we are facing.” She urged Washington not to “confuse capacity issues as a lack of will,” pointing out that Pakistan has a $5 billion defense budget. The U.S. spends this much money in Afghanistan in two weeks, she pointed out. “We are not the coalition of the unwilling,” Ambassador Rehman stressed. “We are the ones in that front line taking the hit. And we will continue to do so because this is our challenge,” she stated. “The narrative machine in Washington has got to take cognizance of the fact that Pakistan is facing a great deal of shocks of its own.” Stability in Afghanistan will come only through an Afghan-led reconciliation process, Ambassador Rehman said. Islamabad “will accept all Afghan-led roadmaps to reconciliation,” she pledged, adding that her country will not “play favorites in Afghanistan.” Ambassador Rehman described U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan as “a breach of international law and our sovereignty.” She also questioned the effectiveness of the strikes, arguing that they are “activating more terrorists.” The ambassador went on to warn that drone strikes are deteriorating the perception of America in Pakistan. “Do you really want the next generation… thinking of the U.S. as the entity that exports power through drone strikes?” she asked. —Dale Sprusansky

Public Attitudes In Yemen

Ambassador Sherry Rehman (l) listens as Shuja Nawaz of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center asks her about Pakistan’s relationship with the United States. MAY 2013


The National Democratic Institute (NDI) held an event at its Washington, DC offices on March 7 to assess “Yemen’s Political Transition and Public Attitudes Toward the National Dialogue.” The discussion was moderated by Brian Katulis, a senior fellow 61


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(L-r) Brian Katulis, John Moreira, Les Campbell and Ambassador Barbara Bodine urge the U.S. to better understand the concerns of the Yemeni people. at the Center for American Progress. John Moreira of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research began by presenting the results of a survey he conducted in Yemen in early 2013. “There is a fair amount of optimism within the country,” he reported, noting that 51 percent of Yemenis believe their country is headed in the right direction. Les Campbell, the NDI’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said this hopefulness was palpable during his recent visit to the country. “I was really struck by a level of optimism I haven’t seen in many years,” he said. Moreira cautioned, however, that perceptions on the direction of the country vary greatly by region. While 84 percent of people in Sana’a believe Yemen is headed in the right direction, he said, just 36 percent of southerners hold the same view. According to Moreira, President Rabbo Mansur al-Hadi has a 74 percent approval rating and is a popular figure in both the north and the south. In Campbell’s opinion, the Yemeni president should use his tremendous popularity to unite sparring groups and advance positive reforms. The issues of most concern to Yemenis are the economy and the rising cost of commodities, Moreira said. The country’s longrunning “southern issue” is the top concern among southerners, he noted. While the U.S. and elites in Sana’a place much focus on issues such as security and military reform, Moreira said that Yemenis view these as second-tier issues. “In our focus groups we did not hear a lot about terrorism,” he explained. Campbell believes these results show that Washington should stop obsessing over its counter-terrorism program and focus more on bread-and-butter issues. Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine agreed with Campbell’s assessment. “Sometimes our policy gets wrapped up on what’s important to us rather than what’s important to the country we are dealing with,” she observed. 62

While Yemen’s national dialogue, which began on March 18, has been widely discussed internationally, Moreira said he found “relatively low awareness about the national dialogue throughout the country.” More than half—52 percent—of Yemenis polled indicated they know little to nothing about the dialogue, he said. Awareness is particularly low among women and the rural poor, Moreira noted. The Yemeni government “needs to develop some kind of comprehensive plan that reaches these people,” Moreira opined. “The national dialogue is very undefined to people, they don’t know what this thing is about.” Those who are familiar with the dialogue have high hopes for a positive outcome, Moreira added, with 66 percent of respondents forecasting that the dialogue will be a success. On the other hand, Moreira said, 47 percent of southerners believe the dialogue will fail. Ambassador Bodine said she is among those optimistic about the dialogue. “Somehow Yemen is going to pull this off,” she predicted. Regardless of the outcome, however, Bodine said the international community needs to be prepared for some turbulent moments during the dialogue. When these uneasy moments arise, Ambassador Bodine said the world must show patience. “We tend to get hysterical every time there is a setback in Yemen,” she noted. —Dale Sprusansky

Asking Obama to Change U.S. Priorities in Yemen The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and the Atlantic Council cosponsored a March 26 discussion at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, DC called “Rethinking U.S. Policy Toward Yemen.” The event coincided with a letter sent to President Barack Obama by the participating organizations titled “Yemen Policy Initiative,” suggesting changes in the way the U.S. aids Yemen and condemnTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ing drone strikes. Hafez al-Bukari, director of the Yemen Polling Center, discussed polling results from Yemen’s urban and rural communities, whose residents were asked what is important to them. According to al-Bukari, most Yemenis are not concerned with politics or drones. Instead their day-to-day worries are the economy, health care, and the services provided by public institutions. When asked about their security concerns, they didn’t cite al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) but their own personal and financial security. “Yemenis think the U.S. is only concerned with AQAP,” al-Bukari said, “and that U.S. development projects are only in the interest of fighting AQAP…[Yemenis] aren’t concerned with elections, they are concerned with their daily lives.” His recommendation was to listen to what Yemenis actually need and provide development assistance without the ulterior motive of fighting AQAP. Steven Heydemann, a senior adviser for Middle East initiatives at the U.S. Institute of Peace, rewound the clock back to 2010, when the Obama administration was acting on its promise to fight terrorism by funneling record amounts of funding into Yemen for job creation, micro-financing and food security. This aid, Heydemann said, was eclipsed by the 2011 uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government. A resulting increase in drone attacks and a shift in focus toward the national dialogue conference that began in mid-March seemed “to not only fail to address the underlying conflict in Yemen,” Heydemann said, “but to potentially make things worse.” Atlantic Council deputy director Danya Greenfield discussed the letter sent to Obama earlier that morning. She spoke about the lack of consistency in U.S. support, which, she said, “breeds a lack of confidence and trust in what the U.S. is saying and what the U.S. is doing.” ReferMAY 2013


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(L-r) Danya Greenfield, Hafez al-Bukari, Steven Heydemann and Stephen McInerney. ring to al-Bukari’s findings that AQAP is not high on the list of Yemenis’ fears, Greenfield argued that this is a reason to focus efforts away from drone strikes. However, when asked by moderator Stephen McInerney, indirectly, how Yemenis feel about drones, al-Bukari admitted that they had not done any qualitative research on the subject because it was not clear that drones are at the forefront of public opinion in Yemen. While questions were raised about possible Yemeni elections in 2014, the overall consensus on the current national dialogue was concern that the daily needs of Yemenis will continue to be ignored. To read the “Yemen Policy Initiative” letter, visit <>. —Alex Begley

Assessing the Arab Awakening


The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars held an event on March 8 at its Washington, DC offices to discuss “The Arab Awakening: Lessons Learned and Challenges Ahead.” Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, moderated the discussion. When the Arab Awakening began two years ago, journalist Rami Khouri ob-

served, all of its participants demanded greater political rights and the meeting of their material needs. Acknowledging the existence of “common grievances across the region,” he nevertheless cautioned against lumping together such countries as Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. “Every country is different,” he reminded the audience, “and that will continue to be the case.” The aftermath of the uprisings has shown the importance of the logistical side of transitions, Khouri pointed out. Most countries did not establish a clear transitional process and experienced bumpy and erratic transitions as a result, he noted. The constitution-writing process, Khouri added, has proven to be a contentious and critical part of the transition process. Khouri also emphasized the “importance of not exaggerating but not underplaying the role of Islamist parties.” Islamists, he said, “are really just normal politicians couched in religious veneer.” If the Islamists fail to respond to the demands of the people, Khouri had no doubts they will suffer electorally. Islamists “are subject to the pushes and pulls of incumbency,” he explained, “and if they don’t perform they will be thrown out.”

(L-r) Rami Khouri, Haleh Esfandiari and Robin Wright stress the importance of constitutions in the Arab world. MAY 2013


It’s important to remember that those participating in the region’s transitions have no experience with democratic politics, Khouri cautioned. “This is the biggest on-the-job collective learning experience probably since George Washington took over the White House,” he said. Therefore the outside world must be patient and let individuals in these countries adjust to the new political landscape. Wilson Center scholar Robin Wright began her remarks by noting that onethird of Arabs live in countries impacted by the Arab Awakening. Given this reality, Arab regimes have no option but to embrace the reform process, she said, adding that the pace and degree of reform will vary by country. “Economically, almost every country is worse or far worse off than before,” Wright noted, citing Tunisia as an example. “We have far more freedoms and far fewer jobs,” she recalled a street vendor telling her during her recent visit to the country. “The proliferation of democracy” since the uprisings has been problematic in some regards, Wright said, noting that “in some places there are actually too many parties.” For example, she pointed out, during Libya’s July 2012 congressional election a whopping 3,000 people ran for the 120 seats set aside for individuals. Wright attributed this phenomenon to the failure of like-minded groups to unite and pool their resources. Wright described the region’s deteriorating security situation as troubling, noting that there is an average of 4 to 5 guns per person in Libya and that street thugs have become a problem in Egypt. —Dale Sprusansky

Voting Patterns in Egypt The RAND Corporation held a March 22 event at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill titled “Mapping Egyptian Politics: Where is Egypt Heading and What Does That Mean for the United States?” RAND Middle East analyst Jeff Martini began by presenting his recently released study on voting patterns in Egypt. In the elections since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak, he said, Islamist parties have fared best in Upper Egypt, North Sinai and the sparsely populated governorates of the western desert. Non-Islamist parties have fared well in Cairo, Port Said, South Sinai and the sparsely populated governorates of the Red Sea, he noted. Importantly, Martini’s study found the Delta region (including Alexandria), which 63

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Tunisia’s Path to a Constitution

(L-r) Jeff Martini, Michele Dunne and Samer Shehata agree that the “swing” Nile Delta region will determine the outcome of Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections. makes up 50 percent of the electorate, to be a contested area. While the March 2011 referendum on the interim constitution and the December 2012 referendum on the Egyptian constitution—two documents heavily supported by Islamists—both passed, Martini noted that the latter was passed by a smaller margin and with less enthusiasm. The interim constitution passed with a 77 percent “yes” vote, compared to a 64 percent “yes” vote in the December vote, he said. Turnout for the March vote was 41 percent of the electorate, compared to a 33 percent turnout for the December vote, Martini pointed out. Elections for national office have followed the same trend as the constitutional votes, Martini observed. While Islamist parties won 73 percent of the seats in Egypt’s lower house of parliament in January 2012, Martini noted, Islamist President Mohamed Morsi defeated former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq by only a few percentage points in the June 2012 presidential runoff election. Based on these four elections, Martini believes that “support for Islamists is waning over time.” If non-Islamists choose to participate in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections, he predicted that they will pick up seats. Under Egypt’s new electoral law, seats in parliament will be distributed according to population, Martini explained. This law benefits non-Islamists, he said, as Upper Egypt will lose seats to Cairo and the Delta. Michele Dunne, director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, questioned the significance of the new electoral law, pointing out that there are accusations of districts being gerrymandered in order to break up secular 64

strongholds. The Egyptian political landscape is diverse, Dunne said, stressing the importance of not simplistically categorizing Egyptians as either Islamists or non-Islamists. There are at least a dozen different political parties in the country, she pointed out, with wide-ranging political views within the Islamist and non-Islamist camps. Dunne also emphasized the important role mobilization and turnout play in electoral outcomes. While it appears the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood is declining, it is incorrect to automatically assume its disgruntled former supporters will show up to vote for non-Islamists in the future, she cautioned. Islamists and secularists must work together to solve Egypt’s many crises, Dunne said. The country’s issues are so wideranging and complex that they require broad political consensus to solve, she stated. Dunne placed blame for the country’s divisive political atmosphere on the Islamists and secularists alike, observing that both sides are taking a harmful zerosum approach to politics. Georgetown University professor Samer Shehata argued that secularist calls for President Morsi to step down are ultimately destructive to the political process. “It would be a terribly bad precedent for him not to continue with his four years,” he stated. Shehata said that the Muslim Brotherhood is not tremendously concerned about non-Islamists, but fears that the ultra-orthodox Salafis will steal some of their seats in the upcoming election. Because they are better organized compared to the last election, Shehata predicted that non-Islamists will fare better in the next vote. —Dale Sprusansky THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) held a March 5 event at its Washington, DC campus to discuss “Constitutionalism and Human Rights in Tunisia: The Islamist-Led Democratic Transition PostArab Spring.” The day-long conference featured two panel discussions. Congressional Research Service analyst Alexis Arieff began the first panel by describing Tunisia’s transition as “slow, unwieldy [and] unmanaged.” More than two years after the uprising, she said, the country is still divided and cannot agree on a shared vision for the future. Tunisian leaders have shown a tendency to drive the country to the brink of disaster, only to reach last-minute compromises, Arieff added. According to Dr. Alaya Allani, a professor at Manouba University in Tunis, a growing number of Tunisians distrust Ennahda, the country’s pre-eminent political ruling party. Ennahda’s critics believe the Islamist party has done a poor job managing the economy, allowed the security situation to deteriorate and monopolized important government positions, he said. While Tunisia’s liberals hope to seize political power from Ennahda in future elections, Allani noted, it remains to be seen if the left can present an adequate alternative to political Islam. Dr. Ghazi Gherairi, a law professor at the University of Tunis, said the country’s constitution-writing process is progressing at a slow pace because the Constituent Assembly started with a blank slate and has refused to accept input from think tanks and constitutional experts. “No one can be sure when the constitution will be drafted,” Gherairi continued. In order for it to be ratified, two-thirds of the Constituent Assembly must vote in favor of the document, he said. If the assembly fails to approve the constitution, he added, a public referendum will be held. Under this scenario, a simple majority of voters would have to vote in favor of the document in order for it to be ratified, Gherairi explained. Dr. Ahmed El Hamri, a development economist at the World Bank, outlined Tunisia’s bleak economic situation. The nation’s economy has not improved much since the uprising and is unlikely to improve any time soon, he said. “Turnaround is going to take time,” El Hamri reminded attendees. In El Hamri’s opinion, in order for Tunisia’s economy to improve the country MAY 2013


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(L-r) Dr. Ahmed El Hamri, moderator Dr. William Zartman, Dr. Alaya Allani, Alexis Arieff and Dr. Ghazi Gherairi discuss Tunisia’s political environment.

(L-r) Nancy Okail, Naziha Rejiba, Eric Goldstein and moderator Dr. Nejib Ayachi discuss human rights in Tunisia. must adopt “a pro-poor growth model that focuses on reducing poverty.” One way to do this, he said, is to diversify the nation’s economy by providing funds for new businesses. This, he argued, would help curb youth unemployment, which currently stands at 70 percent. Tunisia must also limit its external debt by seeking international debt forgiveness, invest in the nation’s underdeveloped interior regions and promote gender equality in the workplace, El Hamri said. Eric Goldstein of Human Rights Watch opened the second panel by assessing the human rights landscape in Tunisia. Since the ouster of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, he noted, the human rights situation has been “unquestionably better.”In particular, Goldstein said, the government has become more transparent and has generally allowed individuals and NGOs to freely express themselves. On the negative side, Goldstein continued, the Tunisian police have had trouble operating in an environment where citizens have greater political rights. Because demonstrations were banned under Ben Ali, he explained, police do not have the proper training or equipment to deal with large, rowdy crowds. As a result, there have MAY 2013

been several instances of police brutality and forced confessions, Goldstein noted. Naziha Rejiba, a Tunisian journalist and human rights activist, said her fellow citizens are enjoying their greater political freedoms in spite of the country’s political rollercoaster. “This is a moment of creative chaos,” she said. Rejiba claimed that Ennahda is not taking responsibility for the country’s social and economic instability and instead is pinning blame on the media for creating an atmosphere of fear. She also accused the party of attempting to “control and hurt the media.” Nancy Okail of Freedom House argued that the rights of Tunisian women cannot be improved solely by passing laws. Solving structural imbalances such as income inequality and sexual harassment are much more important, she maintained. Laws protecting women have little meaning if the media, the educational system and clerics still depict women as being subordinate to men, Okail concluded. —Dale Sprusansky

Looking at a Post-Assad Syria The Stimson Center and the Middle East Institute co-hosted a March 7 panel discussion to examine “Syria Beyond Assad: Building a New Syria from the Grassroots,” THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC. Syria is disintegrating before our eyes, and the conflict could spill over into neighboring countries, warned Mona Yacoubian, senior adviser on the Middle East at the Stimson Center. As the second anniversary of Syria’s uprising approached, more than a million refugees have fled and 70,000 Syrians have been killed. Yacoubian asked panelists to describe the challenges civilians face as they try to build the foundations of a post-Assad Syria. Rafif Jouejati, director of FREE-Syria, who works with women and other minority rights groups, said her fears of an Islamic takeover post-Assad were put to rest on her recent trip to Syria. At a miserable refugee camp she met with fierce-looking, black-headband-wearing leaders of a Free Syrian Army brigade who, she said, treated her as an equal during their lengthy discussions. When her hijab fell off, she recalled, they never missed a beat, continued with talks and respectfully escorted her back across the border. Rebels have opened up hospitals where none existed, and many of the staff are women, Jouejati said. In fact, women are overcoming their own conservatism to help rebuild Syria, she opined. On any day there are 300 Syrians being trained as managers, urban planners, media specialists and other leaders in various projects meant to empower Syrian society. Jouejati came away absolutely convinced that the Syrian people will overcome their current difficulties. Syrian women who have lost husbands, brothers and children in the fighting will be the backbone of the revolution and lead the recovery of civil society, Jouejati concluded. Honey al-Sayed, co-founder and board member of ROYA Association For a Better Syria and producer/host of Radio SouriaLi, discussed Syria’s media prior to the uprising, when journalists could not cross a red line to discuss taboo subjects. “Civil society cannot continue without a free media,” al-Sayed stated, so today Syrians are working from apartments in Damascus or Cairo to provide news online or via Skype to anyone who has access to electricity. Reporters come from different backgrounds and religions but they share one agenda, al-Sayed said: “love for our country, unity and diversity.” Leila Hilal, director of the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force, said she hasn’t visited Syria since the uprising, but has studied the emergence of local councils in opposition-controlled areas. After armed resistance groups liberate a vil65


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(L-r) Mona Yacoubian, Rafif Jouejati, Honey al-Sayed, Leila Hilal and Elizabeth O’Bagy spotlight efforts to build a new Syria. lage it is often local civilian leaders who take over to try to restore public services, Hilal said. Sometimes local councils and rebel commanders coordinate security for a community. While some villages have welcomed opposition fighters, others have resisted armed fighters from entering their towns or neighborhoods fearing regime airstrikes or other retaliation. According to Hilal, the local councils and committees that have emerged in liberated villages have little in common with each other, so building consensus among them to create a new Syrian social contract may be difficult. Elizabeth O’Bagy, senior research analyst with the Institute for the Study of War, spent time with different armed opposition groups on her recent trip to Syria. As the opposition secures areas in the north they hand over control to civilian councils. The fighters don’t want to be responsible for governance or delivering essential services, O’Bagy stated. She suggested that the rebel takeover of al-Raqqa in the northeast will be the first test case of how rebels and civilians work together to govern a provincial capital. O’Bagy argued that many opposition fighters are just civilians who took up arms to defend their communities. She guesses that after the conflict ends those civilians will return to their regular lives and not fight over the governance of villages and cities. —Delinda C. Hanley

rary Syria’s connections with its past. Twair was at the Italian excavation of Ebla in 1973 when a royal archive of cuneiform tablets was uncovered which proved that as early as 2450 BCE Syria was a thriving, literate society which communicated with Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia. Located near Aleppo—the heart of the ongoing uprising against President Bashar Assad—Ebla was destroyed twice, first by the Akkadian Naramsin circa 2250 BCE and second by the Babylonian Hammurabi circa 1850 BCE. Each city in Syria has an historical significance for Syrians, Twair emphasized. Busra in the south boasts a still usable Roman amphitheater; St. Paul delivered sermons here in the basement of a temple which later became a church. Much later, the Prophet Muhammed passed through Busra with his trading caravan. Nearby is the city of Daraa, where the current revolution was sparked in February 2011 when government forces imprisoned and tor-

tured 35 schoolboys for writing anti-Assad graffiti. Protests spread from Daraa on March 18, 2011 when protesting parents of the jailed children were shot by soldiers. The initial precepts of the revolution were to be nonviolent, with equality for all and to reject foreign intervention. Syrian opposition called on the United Nations to protect cities from government aerial bombardments with no-fly zones, but Russia and China vetoed this, Twair pointed out. The opposition took up arms as more Syrian soldiers defected and cities like Deir ez-Zor, Hama, Homs and Aleppo were surrounded by firing tanks and bombed by government aircraft and Scud missiles. With the death toll exceeding 70,000 and more than one million Syrians taking refuge in neighboring countries and millions more citizens driven from their cities, Twair called for NATO to establish no-fly zones and for Russia to halt arms shipments to the regime. —Pat Twair

March 4 Syrian Children More than 200 people marched in Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza on March 17, the date declared by the Syrian American Council (SAC) as the Global Walk 4 Children of Syria. SAC with its 20 chapters in the U.S., including Washington, DC, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, organized the event on the occasion of the second anniversary of the ongoing Syrian revolution. An estimated 73,000 Syrians have been killed since March 15, 2011, more than 5,000 of them children. The number of Syrian refugees outside Syria has exceeded one million, according to the United Nations, more than half of whom are children. — Samir Twair

Des Moines Peace Activists March on Palm Sunday

Samir Twair of the Washington Report was guest speaker at a Feb. 19 meeting of the Whittier Great Discussions group in Temple Beth Shalom. Twair, who participated in 16 archaeological excavations in his native country before coming to the U.S. in 1983, pointed out contempo66


Syria Topic of Whittier Great Discussions

Great Discussions guest speaker Samir Twair flanked by John Beynon (l) and the Rev. Paul Clay. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Freezing temperatures and light snow in Des Moines did not deter Palm Sunday Peace Procession marchers on March 24. About 100 Iowa activists gathered at the Capitol and marched through downtown Des Moines to the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Paul. “Overcoming fear and embracing peace are the themes of the procession this year,” said Rev. Robert Cook, retired Presbytery of Des Moines minister and missionary to El Salvador. “It is easy for government to instill fear in the minds of the people, but Jesus told his followers that he MAY 2013

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in Qasra and traveled throughout the West Bank. The people there are just amazing, so hospitable. But the daily oppression and violence— no person should have to live that way,” said Brown before the march. Bob Brammer said he came to the annual Peace Procession to represent the Catholic Peace Ministry and STAR*PAC. “This is a chance to remember the real roots of Palm Sunday as a statement for peace for all people, including the poor. Marchers in Los Angeles participate in a Global Walk for the It’s a chance for us in Des Children of Syria. Moines to say, ‘We don’t want drones. We want was leaving peace for them. He said, ‘Let peace. War is not the answer,’” said Bramnot your hearts be troubled, neither let mer, retired communications director for them be afraid,’ We need to pay attention the Office of the Iowa Attorney General. “It’s a street demonstration for peace,” to that,” Cook told the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs as marchers un- said Des Moines Catholic Worker founder furled their banners in preparation for the Frank Cordaro. “It’s about space, location, and risk. procession. “America’s energy should not be focused We’re occupying the same space and locaon military actions,” said Ashley Walker, tion as Jesus did for his capital city of secretary of Veterans For Peace Chapter Jerusalem, but we’re doing it in Des 163 and a member of the Des Moines Moines. What we’re lacking is the risk, because it’s legal and acceptable,” said CorCatholic Worker. “We don’t need to be at war,” Walker daro, noting the Des Moines Police Departdeclared. “We need to bring our troops ment escort vehicles. “Until we bridge the gap between our home. We don’t need to spread violence protest and the risk that Jesus took, and and hatred throughout the world.” Des Moines Catholic Worker Julie not uncommon in the world we live in, Brown spoke with evident excitement this will just be what it is, a nice little outabout her recent experience in illegally oc- ing,” said Cordaro, making light of the cold and the snow. cupied Palestine. “I’m a follower of Jesus. I don’t belong “Jessica Reznicek and I trained with the Michigan Peace Team. We spent a month to any special group,” said David Costello

Bob Brammer of the Catholic Peace Ministry speaks to a camera crew before the annual Palm Sunday procession and service for peace. MAY 2013


with a laugh.“I have a passion for peace, and I don’t think there’s a better way to spend Passion Sunday.” Irene Hardisty said she was marching for peace to represent Plymouth Congregational Church. “I too, have a passion for peace, love and joy,” she said. “People need to think about peace before we take action on things.” Reverend Cook provided the reflection at the service at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. The 2013 Palm Sunday Procession and Service for Peace was sponsored by the Des Moines Area Ecumenical Committee for Peace and co-sponsored by American Friends Service Committee-Iowa, STAR*PAC, Methodist Federation for Social Action-Iowa, Des Moines Catholic Worker, Veterans For Peace Chapter 163, Catholic Peace Ministry, Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting, Plymouth Congregational Church Peace Committee, and other area churches and religious organizations. —Michael Gillespie

UNRWA Head Expresses Dismay at Palestinian Situation The Middle East Institute hosted United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) General-Commissioner Filippo Grandi for a March 5 discussion on “Palestinian Refugees in a Changing Middle East.” Introducing Grandi and the event, MEI’s president, Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, lamented the “underreported” Palestinian plight, and hailed Grandi as an “exceptional humanitarian hero.” Grandi expressed dismay at Washington’s lack of interest in funding projects for Palestinians, saying, “Every time I come [to the United States], I am told this is not a priority.” UNRWA is “chronically underfunded,” he added, and faces redoubled competition for resources as media attention shifts to the Syrian crisis. But, Grandi cautioned, attention to Syria needs to include the specific needs of the almost five million Palestinian refugees in that country, Lebanon and Jordan, who not only suffer from the decrease in funding, but also disproportionally live in Syrian conflict areas. Torn between the warring factions, some Palestinians have supported the Assad regime, and worry about militant repercussions if the regime falls. Providing historical context, Grandi noted that about half a million Palestinian refugees have been living in Syria for the last 60 years, a community that has largely been treated well by the host country, while the rest have been arriving over 67

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maraderie we build as we “Run for a Brighter Palestine.” Iqraa has been active in running in the DC metro area since 2008, partnering each year with United Palestinian Appeal (UPA), which implements the education programs we fund, and with Marathon Charity Cooperation, which oversees the training program for our runners. Iqraa runners and volunteers participate in both partnerships through our running and fund-raising, by hosting and coaching many of the training runs, as well as by staffing the aid stations at a number of local running races during the year. As a result, joining Iqraa is a great opportunity to grow stronger in a variety of ways, including your physical fitness, your ties and contributions to society, and your friendships. We’re planning information sessions on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. and April 20 at 1 p.m. at UPA headquarters, 1330 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington DC 20036 (near Dupont Circle) so you can learn about our program and register if you’re interested. We’ve trained 95 Iqraa runners and raised over $114,000 since 2008. Sign up to be one of our 2013 runners at the information sessions in April, or by e-mailing <>. —Kirk Campbell

Expose AIPAC: Movement for Palestinian Justice Grows, AIPAC Weakens The “Expose AIPAC” conference, which coincided with AIPAC’s annual Washington, DC conference from March 2 to 5, was imbued with hope and a growing momentum for the movement for peace and justice for Palestinians. Ten years ago, national student conferences focusing on divestment from Israel were forced to divert a great deal of attention to dealing with counterprotesters. During the 2004 Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement, Duke University had to beef up security, adding metal detectors to deal with proIsrael protesters who also sought to infiltrate and disrupt workshops. The following year, Rutgers University folded to pressure from anti-Palestinian/Arab/-Muslim groups who dubbed the divestment conference there a “terrorism conference,” and forced all the panels and workshops off campus. What a difference a decade can make. The consistent, yet relatively small, protests against AIPAC throughout the United PHOTO COURTESY K. CAMPBELL


reservations about the political leanings of some of the rebel factions, noting that rebels are far from enjoying universal support in Syria. Grandi repeatedly stressed UNRWA’s need for funds, and closed the discussion with a reminder that UNRWA is the second largest employer of Palestinians after the PalestinFilippo Grandi stresses UNRWA’s urgent need for funds. ian Authority, and that Washington must conmore recent decades. Palestinians seeking tribute more to support the organization. —Hamzah Saif refuge in host countries have found themselves caught in the conflicts of their adopted homelands: Grandi cited Jordan Iqraa 2013: Running for a Brighter in the 1970s, Lebanon in the early 2000s, Palestine and now Syria as prime examples. Pales- Iqraa’s 2012 running campaign was our tinians fleeing these crises are often forced most successful since 2010, with 14 runto abandon homes sometimes two or three ners completing races such as the Baltitimes, he noted. Today’s Palestinian popu- more 5K and Half-Marathon, and the Malation in Syria is suffering similar circum- rine Corps and Richmond Marathons. Last stances, Grandi explained, with about half year we raised more than $21,000 for edua million displaced within Syria and an- cation programs in Palestine. Our aim for other 30,000 having fled to Jordan. 2013 is to recruit over 30 Iqraa runners to Troublingly, alongside the deteriorating wear our red-and-white jersey and to raise Palestinian situation in Syria, life in Gaza more than $30,000 for education in Palesand the West Bank is getting harsher, tine. We’ve met the latter two goals before, Grandi said. Not only has “the blockage of though not in a single year. Gaza…not been eased in any substantial The characteristics that make Iqraa speway,” he added, but settlers increasingly cial and unique are our focus on positive, are encroaching on Arab land. Even his constructive contributions to the developown house in the Arab quarter of ment of Palestinian human capital, our secJerusalem barely has any Arab neighbors, ular and non-political approach to awareGrandi said. ness-raising, the diverse background of Saying that “the Palestinian situation is our runners, including a balanced number getting away from us,” Grandi described of male and female participants and multiUNRWA’s educational and social activities ple ethnic and faith traditions, and the caas “very necessary,” calling them a “contributor to any stability that still exists in the region.” Describing UNRWA’s relationship with Israel as “businesslike,” Grandi added that Israel remains opposed to UNRWA’s advocacy of Palestinian rights. While Israel sees that as beyond the scope of the organization, Grandi argued that it was firmly part of UNRWA’s mandate. In response to questions regarding his assessment of the Syrian crisis, Grandi expressed pessimism, adding that we are “already past the moment when the worst could have been avoided.” He also expressed An Iqraa running team from 2011.

MAY 2013



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ments go these days,” she proclaimed. “We have to say we’re part of a movement of peace and justice.” The political winds are shifting in Washington regarding Israel, and so is the culture throughout the U.S. Panelist Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Protesters outside AIPAC’s annual conference. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), pointed out that AIPAC lost its unchecked power to approve all top officials and were unable to prevent Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as secretary of defense this year simply because he didn’t proclaim his undying love and unwavering support for Israel. Jonathan Kuttab, chairman of the board of Holy Land Trust and co-founder of Sabeel, asserted that U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s truck visits “any U.S. president who AIPAC’s annual conference. chooses can now defy States have grown considerably thanks to AIPAC and can do it successfully,” citing concerted efforts by local organizers. Since President George W. Bush’s push against 2008, the anti-AIPAC protests in front of Israel in forcing a three-month settlement the Washington, DC Convention Center freeze. Vilkomerson highlighted the growhave grown to include information tables, ing mainstream awareness that AIPAC banners and street theater, signaling a doesn’t represent all American Jews. She growing and resolute movement against Is- also noted that the activists involved in the raeli occupation and apartheid. Yet, for BDS campaign against South African years Zionist supporters of Israel came in apartheid targeted Barclays Bank for 27 force and made themselves heard—they years, before successfully pressuring the even held on extra-long to the bullhorn company to sell off its subsidiary there. when activists for Palestine gave them the These days, we are rightly impatient for Israeli occupation and apartheid to end; but opportunity to speak. In 2013, what I witnessed was a bit differ- we should remember that in the long road ent. Many self-proclaimed Zionists continue toward justice, we are making progress. “We’re used to losing in the peace and to stand firm, and on Monday plenty of congressional representatives publicly attended justice movement, but we can’t lose our the AIPAC Gala. But their voices were not as will to win,” Robert Naiman, policy direcloud as in the past, and politicians seem less tor at Just Foreign Policy, reminded the audience. “This is an opportunity to win.” proud of their support for Israel. In addition to panels on lobbying, unMore importantly, the mood at the Expose AIPAC conference had less of an un- manned militarized drones, and policy derdog feeling and more of a confident, specifics regarding U.S. aid to Israel, U.S.strategic spirit. Many of the speakers and Iran relations and Israel-Iran relations, two participants have been involved for so long workshops focused on boycott, divestment that they have taken “the long view”: not and sanctions. Shelly Fudge, JVP’s DC giving up after losing an individual battle, Metro Chapter coordinator, hosted a workbut also not expecting the victories, de- shop with Vilkomerson on “BDS Camspite their accumulation. During the clos- paigns in Progress.” Fudge discussed the ing panel, Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the In- boycott campaign of SodaStream, a prostitute for Policy Studies and co-chair of ducer of home carbonation devices headthe International Coordinating Network on quartered in an illegal Israeli settlement, Palestine, stated that while we have been while Vilkomerson discussed the divestthriving on the margins for so long, that ment campaign targeting the large pension era is over: “We’re as mainstream as move- fund TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and MAY 2013


Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund). —Lyndi Borne

General Dempsey Urges Hire of Experienced Veterans at World Affairs Council Gala The World Affairs Council-Washington, DC held its 2013 Global Education Gala on March 7 at the downtown Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Each year the Council honors individuals and organizations for their contributions to the promotion of global education and public awareness of global issues. The annual gala is a crucial source of support for the Council’s public and educational programs for area citizens, teachers and students. Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News and World Report, emceed the event, which was attended by a record-breaking 1,000 supporters. Yousef Al Otaiba, ambassador of United Arab Emirates to the United States, received the Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award on behalf of his nation’s diplomatic corps in the United States. In his acceptance remarks, Ambassador Al Otaiba recalled, “When I came to Washington as ambassador five years ago, my country was not well understood.” He and his team got to work, he said, traveling across the country, speaking at 20 World Affairs Council events, talking with educators, business and community leaders about the “deep ties that bind our two countries.” The UAE donated educational and humanitarian aid to communities affected by two major natural disasters: the tornado that struck Joplin, MO in May 2011 and last year’s Hurricane Sandy. The tornado destroyed many of Joplin’s buildings and much of its infrastructure, including its only high school and hospital. The UAE Embassy purchased laptops for all of the high school’s 2,200 students and also spent $5 million on a new neonatal intensive-care unit for Joplin’s Mercy Hospital. Ambassador Al Otaiba promised the governors of New York and New Jersey $5 million each to help rebuild after Hurricane Sandy In his keynote speech, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, began by admitting, “I’m a little intimidated by the fact that the ambassador from the United Arab Emirates would get up here and speak in better English than the American general with a master’s degree in English.” General Dempsey then proceeded to engage, entertain and inspire his audience as he emphasized the importance of education. Democracies that succeed do so because education provides the foundation, 69

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tional Convention Center earlier that day. “The Arab League, as many of you may know, is one of the oldest regional organizations in the world,” Ambassador Al Sharif told his guests. “Founded on March 22, 1945, it was established even before the founding of the United Nations.” The Arab League represents more than 360 million people located in “the cradle of three divine the crossroads of ancient civilizations, overlooking the shores of the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf and both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans,” Ambassador Al Sharif stated. Its members sit “atop the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world,” and the region has “demographic, economic and strategic weight.” Al Sharif thanked State Department officials for their tireless work to improve cooperation with the Arab League. He praised the efforts of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary-General of the Arab League Dr. Nabil El Arabi, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last year to increase economic, social, cultural and scientific cooperation to help millions of Arab youths achieve their dreams. Referring to President Obama’s trip, Ambassador Al Sharif said he and his colleagues hope for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, “so that all peoples in our region live together in dignity and enjoy the peace dividends of prosperity, security and stability.” He called Arab Americans gathered at the celebration “a valuable part of the American mosaic” and urged them to continue to “play a crucial role in sustaining and strengthening the bonds between America and the lands of your ancestors.” He concluded by asking them to take pride in their heritage and help “influence the course of future Arab-American relations.” —Delinda C. Hanley



“Educator of the Year” award to Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who was recently appointed chairman of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. “We at UMBC know that in the 21st century, students will need to know first hand how to collaborate across academic fields, languages, cultures and nationalities. The most promising ideas for transforming our world will occur at the intersection of those boundaries.” John Chambers, chairman and CEO of CISCO Systems, was honored with the Global Education Award in recognition of his company’s worldwide commitment to social responsiTOP: Students pose with Gen. Martin E. Dempsey after his bility, knowledge transfer, keynote speech on the importance of education. ABOVE: UAE learning and education. “The Internet and educaAmbassador Yousef Al Otaiba accepts congratulations. tion are two great equalizDempsey stated, after applauding the ers which level the playing field for people, World Affairs Council for putting its companies, and countries,” he stated. “At “weight behind education as a catalyst for CISCO, we use our core expertise in netprogress and for a better life, not just for us working technology to improve both the who live here in the greatest democracy in delivery and quality of education.” Frederick Thomas, founder and CEO of the world but for our friends and partners MHz Networks, was presented with the around the world.” Successful leaders are dedicated to life- Global Communications Award. “We are long learning, he continued. “I actually be- privileged to bring unedited and unfillieve that if you don’t continue to learn, tered English-language foreign television [including Al Jazeera English] and film you’re stagnant and you fall behind.” The general described education as a na- programming to 38 million American tional strategic resource, adding, “We households in Washington, DC and across know that the performance of our students the United States, through broadcast, and their teachers has a direct impact—a cable, satellite and digital media,” Thomas —Delinda C. Hanley direct impact—on the prosperity of our said. nation.” He later declared, “Preventing wars and winning wars calls on us to outDiplomatic Doings maneuver our potential adversaries by outthinking them.” As soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Arab League Celebrates Its 68th Coast Guardsmen return home from 12 Anniversary years of war, Dempsey urged businesses Ambassador of the Arab League in Washand universities to use this pool of experi- ington, DC Mohammed Al Husseini Al enced leaders as teachers, guest lecturers, Sharif welcomed guests to a March 21 rementors and advisers. He concluded with ception at the Willard Hotel in Washingone more piece of advice: “As we confront ton, DC on the eve of the 68th anniversary a really uncertain future in a very, very of the League of Arab States. Many of the complex world, stay curious, my friends.” guests discussed President Barack Obama’s The World Affairs Council presented the speech to Israelis at the Jerusalem Interna-

Ambassador Mohammed Al Husseini Al Sharif addresses guests celebrating the Arab League’s 68th anniversary. MAY 2013

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Upcoming Events, Announcements & —Compiled by Andrew Stimson Obituaries Upcoming Events The Committee for Palestinian Rights will host a screening of “Roadmap to Apartheid,” a documentary film exploring the striking parallels between South African and Israeli apartheid, on Sunday, April 28, 2 p.m., at the Miller Branch, Howard County Library Ellicott, Meeting Room 9421, Frederick Rd., Ellicott City, MD 21042. After the film, there will be an audience discussion with author, blogger, political analyst and social activist Laila El-Haddad. For more information e-mail <>. The Common Bond Institute (CBI) will host the 7th Annual International Conference on Engaging the Other, May 3 to 5, at 5801 Southfield Rd., Detroit, MI 48228. The conference aims to address fear-based belief systems, negative stereotypes, and artificial barriers of distrust that divide people, and will feature a presentation on CBI’s Trauma Recovery Program aiding Refugees in the Middle East. For registration and more information, visit <> or call (269) 6659393. Join United Palestinian Appeal (UPA) on May 4 for its Spring Walk for Palestine to support Palestine and projects helping needy children, university scholarships and other UPA programs. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. with a sign-in and T-shirt pick-up in Lake Fairfax Park, Reston, VA, and will end at 12 p.m. with snacks and refreshments. For more information, visit <>. The Jerusalem Fund will host a discussion of her book Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland with author Pamela Olson, May 7, 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Palestine Center, 2425 Virginia Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20037. For more information visit <> or call (202) 3381290. The Community House and the Arab American National Museum will present the Michigan Arab Orchestra live in concert with guest vocalists Françoise Atlan and Aboud Agha, on Thursday, May 9, 7 p.m., 380 South Bales St., Birmingham, MI 48009. For tickets and more information visit <www.tchserves. org>, program code 13SFP01, or call (248) 644-5832. MAY 2013

The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) will host Palestinian Hopes, Regional Turmoil, a discussion with Noam Chomsky, including special guests Holly Near and the Peace Becomes You Band, on May 8, 7 p.m., at the Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland, CA. Tickets are $12 to $200, with sales benefitting MECA’s programs for children in Iraq, Lebanon and Occupied Palestine. For more information visit <www.mecaforpeace. org> or call (510) 548-0542 ext. 310. The Churches for Middle East Peace Annual Advocacy Conference will be held May 20 and 21, at Edward J. Pryzbyla Center at The Catholic University of America, the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church and other locations across Washington, DC. To register and for more information visit <> or e-mail <>. Announcements The Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies (YCMES) will host its annual Summer Term Arabic Language & Area Studies Program in Sana’a from June 9 to July 10, July 14 to Aug. 7, and Aug. 25 to Sept. 25. Students can study at YCMES for 5, 10, 15 weeks or more in one of the few remaining places in the world where Arabic is spoken exclusively. The program accepts applicants on a rolling basis, and payments must be received a month before classes begin. To learn more visit < ycmes>. The Summer Institute for Intensive Arabic Language and Culture, hosted each year at the Lebanese American University (Beirut campus), is currently accepting applications for its six-week summer program (June 24 to Aug. 2). Courses include introductory through advanced Arabic and Lebanese dialect. For more information and to apply, visit < stitutes/sinarc/index.html>. Obituaries: Richard Ben Cramer, 62, Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist and author, died Jan. 7 of lung cancer at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. In 1979, at the age of 28, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his work as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


Middle East correspondent. Based in Tel Aviv at the time, Cramer was known for his tenacity. While covering Israel’s invasion of southern Lebanon, he reportedly walked through a two mile no-man’s-land between the Israeli army and Fatah forces to conduct interviews. He won the Ernie Pyle Award for foreign reporting and an Overseas Press Club Award in 1980 for his writing from Afghanistan. He was perhaps best known for his book What It Takes: The Way to the White House, an extensive profile of the 1988 U.S. presidential campaign. His writing appeared in several publications including, Time, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Cramer revisited Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and Lebanon and in 2005 produced How Israel Lost: The Four Questions. (See book review in the April 2005 Washington Report, p. 70.) The book received a hostile reception from American supporters of Israel, who labeled its Jewish author an anti-Semite. Later works, such as Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism and Gershom Gorenberg’s The Unmaking of Israel owed much to Cramer’s bold stand. Christopher van Hollen, 90, former U.S. Foreign Service officer and ambassador to Sri Lanka, died Jan. 30 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at the Washington Home and Hospice. His long career with the U.S. State Department included postings in India, Pakistan and Turkey; he also served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs during the 1971 Bangladesh war. He was appointed ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives by President Richard Nixon in 1972 and had a purportedly contentious relationship with National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. After retirement, van Hollen served as vice president of the Middle East Institute from 1988 to 1992 and as editor of The Middle East Journal in 1991 and 1992. He was also a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and director of the American Institute for Islamic Affairs. He was married to Eliza van Hollen, one of the top U.S. government foreign policy and intelligence analysts on Afghanistan and South Asia, who died in 2007. He is survived by three children, including Rep. Chris van Hollen (D-MD), two sisters and five grandchildren. ❑ 71

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DVDs & Books

Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football and the American Dream Directed by Rashid Ghazi, North Shore Films, 2011, DVD, 92 mins. List: $24.99; AET: $21. Reviewed by Dale Sprusansky Director Rashid Ghazi’s 90-minute film follows Fordson High School’s predominately Muslim football team as it prepares for its cross-town rivalry game during the holy month of Ramadan. E pluribus unum (Latin for “Out of many, one”)—the phrase on the Seal of the United States—in many ways encapsulates the film’s message. While many view the young football players from Dearborn, MI as different or even threatening due to their faith and ethnicity, the film reveals just how ordinary Muslim- and Arab-Americans are. Fordson High—which is 95 percent Muslim—is no different from any other American school: football is the talk of the campus, students stare at the clock waiting for class to end, and the principal must deal with pranksters. Likewise, Dearborn is no different from other American towns: people Dale Sprusansky is assistant editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.


work hard, love their family and root hard for their community’s football team. As the film reveals, those unfamiliar with Fordson High and Dearborn all too often attempt to portray the town and its students as different and un-American. Individuals complain that students recite Muslim prayers before games, opponents hurl racial slurs on the field, students are unjustly arrested on terrorism charges, and the principal is targeted for his faith. The young players—with assistance from their coaches—do their best to absorb the hatred and use the slurs as an opportunity to learn discipline and restraint. As difficult as holding a punch or a verbal comeback may be, the players face an even greater test of their internal fortitude: not being able to eat or drink during their grueling daytime Ramadan practices. Preparing for their inter-city rivalry game, the players faithfully observe the tenets of their religion while remaining fully committed to victory on the field. Off the field, the film shows how Ramadan is a time to spend valuable and cherished moments with family and friends. At home, the students help their families prepare potluck dinners for a community iftar (evening fast-breaking meal). As one would expect in America, the men at the iftar are gathered around the television watching football, while the women chat and catch up with one another. As the big game unfolds, the film suddenly turns into a sports drama. Having developed an attachment to the players and their families, viewers anxiously observe the action on the field—cheering with every touchdown pass and groaning with each interception. As Fordson pulls away with the victory, viewers feel as if they, too, have something to celebrate. As the film concludes, its central theme once again emerges, only this time with a more uplifting tone. It’s graduation day, and the school’s beloved principal is sending off the senior class with wise and inspiring words. He reminds them of the important role education plays in defeating ignorance and tells the young men and women that it is their responsibility to defend American values. The film now over, viewers have a hard time standing up and getting on with their day. The story of the Fordson High football team is tremendously moving. It’s a reminder of how great this country is, enriched by the many cultures and beliefs of its inhabitants. At the same time, the film reminds viewers that despite our differTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ences we are one people—united in our love of country, family and football.

The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East By Charles Tripp, Cambridge University Press, 2013, paperback, 385 pp. List: $27.99; AET: $25. Reviewed by Andrew Stimson In The Power and the People, Charles Tripp, pro fessor of politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, traces the not-sorecent rise of “non violent, imaginative, economic and symbolic” resistance in the Middle East and examines how it has challenged the more familiar forms of power, such as economic inequality, political repression and patriarchal systems. While Tripp includes a chapter on violent resistance to imperial forms of power (i.e., Iraq following the 2003 U.S. invasion, or Palestinians’ initial response to Israeli military occupation), he primarily documents the growing nonviolent forms of resistance to “the military occupation by various regimes of their own countries.” Tripp convincingly argues that the protesters who occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square not only defied the Mubarak regime’s ability to project power through the façade of placid public spaces, but also helped reimagine an Egypt where freedom of speech prevails and citizens can assert their political existence through mass protest. The author also explores forms of economic resistance, using the example of how Islamic financial institutions are responding to global capitalism’s endemic inequality. Other noteworthy sections include a valuable study on the promise of Islamic feminist movements from Morocco to Iran. Ultimately, Tripp reveals how these alternative forms of resistance have challenged the hegemonic narratives supporting those currently in power, and captures the capacity of average people to disrupt the complacency of the powerful. ❑ Andrew Stimson is director of the AET Book Club. MAY 2013

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AET Book Club Catalog Literature









Spring 2013 Al-Andalus Rediscovered: Iberia’s New Muslims, by Marvine Howe, Columbia University Press, 2012, hardcover, 208 pp. List: $25; AET: $24. Al-Andalus profiles one of Europe’s fastest growing Muslim communities, ranging from students to boat workers, female professionals, and clerics, and their successful integration into the strong Portuguese and Spanish Roman Catholic culture. Marvine Howe shares not only the experiences of Iberia’s Muslims but also the reactions of Spanish and Portuguese officials, academics, NGOs, and ordinary citizens, who have found ways to incorporate Muslims and other immigrants into Iberian society despite domestic and European pressure to do otherwise.

Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror, by Victoria Brittain, Pluto Press, 2012, paperback, 200 pp. List: $24; AET: $21. Shadow Lives reveals the unseen side of the 9/11 wars: their impact on the wives and families of men incarcerated in Guantanamo, in prison or under house arrest. Victoria Brittain shows how these families have been made socially invisible and a convenient scapegoat for the state in order to exercise arbitrary powers under the cover of the “War on Terror.” A disturbing exposé of the perilous state of freedom and democracy in our society, the book reveals how a culture of intolerance and cruelty has left individuals at the mercy of the security services’ unverifiable accusations and punitive punishments.

Generation Palestine: Voices from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, edited by Rich Wiles, Pluto Press, 2012, paperback, 240 pp. List: $24; AET: $22. With essays written by a wide selection of contributors, Generation Palestine provides a vision and roadmap for the future of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Contributors include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ken Loach, Iain Banks, Ronnie Kasrils, Prof. Richard Falk, Ilan Pappe, Omar Barghouti, Ramzy Baroud and Archbishop Attallah Hannah, alongside other internationally acclaimed artists, writers, academics and grassroots activists.

Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, by Rashid Khalidi, Beacon Press, 2013, hardcover, 208 pp. List: $25.95; AET: $20. Acclaimed historian Rashid Khalidi dissects the United States’ role as the impartial broker in the failed Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Through cogent analysis of three pivotal moments during the last 35 years of negotiations, Khalidi reveals that while masquerading as unbiased agents, U.S. policymakers have been the agents of continuing injustice, effectively preventing the difficult but essential steps needed to achieve peace in the region.

Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, Clarity Press, 2013, paperback, 212 pp. List: $18.95; AET: $15. One of the AET Book Club’s bestselling authors, Professor Francis Boyle, provides a comprehensive history and critique of American foreign policy toward Libya. Destroying Libya charts the policy of regime change in Libya pursued by five presidential administrations, culminating in the NATO assault that created 50,000 Libyan casualties, the breakdown of local law and order, and the destabilization of international law under the newly-contrived UN R2P “responsibility to protect” doctrine.

Culture and Dignity: Dialogues Between the Middle East and the West, by Laura Nader, WileyBlackwell, 2012, paperback, 264 pp. List: $39.95; AET: $35. Renowned cultural anthropologist Laura Nader examines the historical and ethnographic roots of the complex relationship between the East and the West, revealing how cultural differences can lead to violence or a more peaceful co-existence. Culture and Dignity masterfully uncovers our shared history, urges readers to let go of the notion that one culture is superior, and focus on our connections rather than our differences.

Fortress Israel: The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country—& Why They Can’t Make Peace, by Patrick Tyler, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012, hardcover, 576 pp. List: $35; AET: $26. Bound by self-reliance and a stern resolve never to forget the Holocaust, Israel’s military elite has prevailed in war but has also at times overpowered Israel’s democracy, in their attempt to expand borders and exploit the weaknesses of Arab regimes. Tyler takes us inside the military culture of Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, and Binyamin Netanyahu, introducing us to generals who make decisions that trump those of elected leaders and who disdain diplomacy as appeasement or surrender.

Being Arab, by Samir Kassir, Verso, 2013, paperback, 110 pp. List: $12.95; AET: $11. A passionate meditation on contemporary Arab identity. Before his assassination in 2005, Samir Kassir was one of Lebanon’s foremost public intellectuals. Being Arab is a thought-provoking assessment of Arab identity in which Kassir calls on the people of the Middle East to reject both Western double standards and religious extremism in order to take the future into their own hands. Passionately written and brilliantly argued, this is a compelling rallying cry for change by an important and tragic figure.

The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East, by Charles Tripp, Cambridge University Press, 2013, paperback, 385 pp. List: $27.99; AET: $25. The extraordinary events in the Middle East in 2011 offered a vivid example of how non-violent demonstration can topple seemingly invincible rulers. This book considers the ways in which the people have united to unseat their oppressors and fight against the status quo and probes the relationship between power and forms of resistance. Tripp’s powerful yet unsettling book presents a panoramic view of the 20th and 21st century Middle East through occupation, oppression and political resistance.

Shipping Rates Most items are discounted and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders accepted by mail, phone (800-368-5788 ext. 2), or Web (www.middleeast All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please send mail orders to the AET Bookstore, 1902 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, with checks and money orders made out to “AET.” Contact the AET Book Club for complete shipping guidelines and options. U . S . S h i p p i n g R a t e s : Please add $5 for the first item and $2.50 for each additional item. Canada & Mexico shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $3.50 for each additional item. International shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $4 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. MAY 2013

L i b r a r y p a c k a g e s (list value over $240) are available for $29 if donated to a library, or free if requested with a library’s paid subscription or renewal. Call the Book Club at 800-3685788 ext. 2 to order. AET policy is to identify donors unless anonymity is specifically requested.



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AET’s 2013 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1 and March 19, 2013 is making possible activities of the tax-exempt AET Library Endowment (federal ID #52-1460362) and the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. We are deeply honored by their confidence and profoundly grateful for their generosity.

HUMMERS ($100 or more) Americans for a Palestinian State, Oakland, CA Mustafa Amantullah, Los Angeles, CA Dr. Nabih Ammari, Cleveland, OH* Mazen Awad, Gainesville, FL Jamil Barhoum, San Diego, CA Robert A. Boyd, Binghamton, NY Dr. Robert G. Collmer, Waco, TX Darcy Curtiss, Herndon, VA* Amb. John Gunther Dean, Paris, France John Dirlik, Pointe Claire, Quebec Mervat Eid, Henrietta, NY Joseph & Angela Gauci, Whittier, CA Robert & Helen Harold, West Salem, WI Mr. & Mrs. John Hendrickson, Tulsa, OK

Mustafa Jamal, Hyde Park, NY Mohamed Kamal, North York, Ont. Michael J. Keating, Olney, MD* Ernestine King, Topsham, ME Shafiq Kombargi, Houston, TX Richard Makdisi & Lindsay Wheeler, Berkeley, CA John B. Malouf, Lubbock, TX Joseph A. Mark, Carmel, CA Martha Martin, Paia, HI Jamal Mustafa, Hyde Park, NY Mohamad Nabi, Union, KY Jim Plourd, Monterey, CA Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT Amb. Christopher Ross, Washington, DC Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA Beverly Swartz, Sarasota, FL J. Tayeb, Shelby Township, MI


Help make sure that the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs will be here for the next generation. By remembering the Washington Report in your will, you can: • Make a significant gift without affecting your current cash flow; • Direct your bequest to a vital purpose—educating readers about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East; • Receive a charitable estate tax deduction; • Leave a legacy for future generations.

Peter & Liz Viering, Stonington, CT Dr. Robert Younes, Potomac, MD* Munir Zacharia, La Mirada, CA ACCOMPANISTS ($250 or more) Dr. Abdullah Arar, Amman, Jordan Mr. & Mrs. John Crawford, Boulder, CO Richard Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL Dr. William Fuller, Valdosta, GA H. Clark Griswold, Woodbury, CT Martha Katz, Youngstown, OH Rachelle Marshall, Mill Valley, CA Patricia & Herbert Pratt, Cambridge, MA Dr. M.H. Salem, Amman, Jordan Russell Scardaci, Cairo, NY* John V. Whitbeck, Paris, France TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($500 or more) Graf Herman Bender, North Palm Beach, FL Gary L. Cozette, Chicago, IL Shuja El-Asad, Amman, Jordan Eileen Fleming, Clermont, FL Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA BARITONES & MEZZO SOPRANOS ($1,000 or more) Asha A. Anand, Bethesda, MD Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius and Aston Bloom, Tucson, AZ* Gary Richard Feulner, Dubai, UAE Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey

Bequests of any size are honored with membership in the American Educational Trust’s “Choirmasters,” named for angels whose foresight and dedication ensured the future of the Washington Report and AET Book Club. For more information visit, contact us at, write: American Educational Trust, PO Box 91056 • Long Beach, CA 90809-1056, or telephone our new toll-free circulation number 888-881-5861 • Fax: 714-226-9733

CHOIRMASTERS ($5,000 or more) Henry Clifford, Essex, CT Donna B. Curtiss, Kensington, MD John & Henrietta Goelet, Meru, France Andrew I. Killgore, Washington, DC William & Flora McCormick, Austin, TX* * In Memory of Richard H. Curtiss



MAY 2013

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American Educational Trust The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs P.O. Box 53062 Washington, DC 20009

May 2013 Vol. XXXII, No. 4

Lipstick stains and a tied scarf cover the top of the headstone of Staff Sgt. Daniel A. Suplee of Ocala, FL, in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, March 15, 2013. Suplee died Aug. 3, 2006 at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, FL, of injuries sustained that April 1 in Kabul, Afghanistan. WIN McNAMEE/Getty Images

Washington Report Vol. XXXII No. 4  

Published to help provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states.

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