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TBR News April 22, 2018

Apr 22 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. April 22, 2018:”We will be out of the office until April 23 ed”.



Table of Contents

  • Destroyed and Saved by Pesha Magid, Shawn Carrié
  • War Fever by Daniel Lazare
  • How Mossad carries out assassinations by Ali Younes
  • The Attack on Iran: Israel’s Plans for a US Action by Christian Jürs
  • The Great Majority of Jews Today Have No Historical or Ethnic Relationship to Palestine by Issa Nakhleh  LL.B



Destroyed and Saved

To Defeat ISIS, the U.S. Helped Turn Old Mosul Into Rubble — But Won’t Help Rebuild It

April 22, 2018

by Pesha Magid, Shawn Carrié

The Intecept

We hear Ahmed Abdulrahman before we see him. He is preceded by the sounds of hammers clacking and concrete being moved around. We make our way from the street, through a narrow entryway scattered with bits of broken stones, shattered glass and wiring. The entrance is damaged and its walls lean precariously. A sheen of white dust covers every surface. We emerge into an inner courtyard where Abdulrahman is working cheerfully in a knitted blue and grey sweater that wouldn’t look out of place on a Norwegian grandfather. Goggles perched atop his head, he is a beaming, bearded steampunk repair man.

He lives in the Old City of Mosul. Most houses are mutilated, empty frames, but the neighborhood bears the signs of life. With a small toolbox in hand, he goes from house to house cheerfully greeting people, helping them with small repairs, finding work or medicine. If there is a problem in the neighborhood — Abdulrahman is the first person to turn to.

“If you get someone who’s relaxed and not under pressure, then they’re fine,” Abdulrahman says, “but someone who’s been living for a long time in a destroyed place like this, he’s like ‘aaaaah’!” Abdulrahman throws his hands in the air with the growl of a monster in a children’s story. “Then they always make trouble, yes indeed,” he concludes, with a matter-of-fact grin. Locals elected Abdulrahman as a sort of neighborhood mayor and multi-purpose problem solver — otherwise known as a mokhtar.

The streets of the neighborhood resemble a bizarre, space-like desert of pulverized stone and bomb-twisted metal. It was here, in the Old City of Mosul, that the final battle to remove Daesh, also known as Islamic State, reached a violent crescendo last year. The neighborhood is home to the famous al-Nuri Mosque with its iconic hunchback minaret, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, proclaimed a caliphate in Mosul. As Iraqi forces closed in and defeat became imminent, Daesh rigged the 850-year old mosque with explosives and blew it up, just to rob them of a symbolic victory.

Today, the sprawling grounds of the al-Nuri Mosque are a scrap metal yard. Rusty cars are piled on top of each other. Men push around carts collecting parts that can be recycled. It’s the only area where any rubble has been removed, even if only to make space for a junkyard. In the surrounding neighborhood, the destruction spreads out, spanning block after block.

Standing in the midst of a shattered home, Abdulrahman is blunt: “All of this destruction wasn’t made by Daesh.”

The Old City of Mosul survived the American invasion of 2003, the bloody decade of insurgency and civil war that followed, and three years under the Islamic State’s caliphate. The nine-month battle to wrest the city from the Daesh occupation, led by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, killed thousands of civilians. It extinguished entire families in seconds. Across Iraq, it displaced millions to refugee camps, many of them from Mosul. It erased years of the city’s history, its dignified 18th century facades, and the beating heart of the city where both trade and tourism thrived. It did more damage to Mosul in those nine months than had occurred in the previous 14 years.

Today, people speak about the Old City’s residents with hushed tones of pity: many of them saw their entire livelihoods vanish in one day, often at the same time they lost family or friends. No other part of the city was damaged as badly. Yet in the Old City, state-led rebuilding efforts are almost non-existent. No one knows how long it will take to make the Old City livable again – most estimates say it will take years.

Mosul residents are left asking: Who will pay for the reconstruction? The answer isn’t clear, except for one part, which is that America will not be involved, even though its bombs were responsible for the lion’s share of destruction. Now that the caliphate has been toppled, there is no plan for what comes after.

Iraq estimates it needs $88 billion to rebuild following the war against Daesh, and hoped to drum up funding from foreign donors at a major international donor conference in February. But Iraq only managed to raise pledges of $30 billion, much of that for loans and investment rather than direct aid. While Turkey pledged $5 billion, and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia each pledged $1 billion in loans meant for rebuilding, the U.S. was conspicuously absent from the donors list. Instead of pledging any direct loans, the U.S. will pursue “development through a model of investment rather than aid,” then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a speech. His remarks were not happenstance. “Immediate stabilization needs remain vast, and limited U.S. government resources alone cannot meet these current and pressing needs, let alone consider supporting long-term reconstruction,” a spokesperson for the State Department told The Intercept.

American foreign policy – which amounts to pouring billions of dollars of military spending into Iraq, but little on economic aid or investment – is not a popular one. “I can’t tell you how hollow the Tillerson speech rang,” said Saad al-Douri, a research analyst at the London-based think tank Chatham House, who attended the Kuwait conference. “The main thing he stressed was helping the Iraqi government reach out to private business and helping American companies invest in Iraq.”

But even those promises from Tillerson have yet to materialize. At the conference, Tillerson cited two U.S. government agencies, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, as potential facilitators for investment. The Intercept contacted both agencies, and neither was able to confirm any upcoming projects in Iraq. EXIM is without enough board members to approve any new projects, while OPIC does not publicly list any new proposals at this time. Its past projects in Iraq include $21 million for the construction of a Hilton DoubleTree hotel in Erbil.

“I don’t want to say it’s nothing, but it’s nothing material at least,” al-Douri said.

When the U.S. invaded Iraq fifteen years ago, it dismantled the Iraqi state and installed an interim government that presided over a series of disastrous decisions that helped prompt enduring warfare, at first against the U.S. occupation, then between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shias. It had catastrophic consequences for the country, and cost America over two trillion dollars. In the aftermath, there is only a military strategy for Iraq, not economic.

“When you talk to U.S. officials, there is this continuous emphasis on the idea that ‘we helped you, now it’s time for you to help yourselves,’” explains Harith al-Qarawee, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

President Trump hasn’t said much about Iraq since the fighting finished. He has, however, taken the time to make clear he thinks the U.S. shouldn’t spend any more money in the Middle East — with the notable exception of the military. Trump’s 2019 budget requested $15.3 billion in funding to continue the anti-Daesh mission in Iraq and Syria — an 18% percent increase from the year before, and almost $4 billion more than the year that Daesh was defeated in Mosul.

“This is classic,” notes al-Douri. “The biggest fear and criticism is that this administration’s policy facing ISIS has only really valued a military dimension. There hasn’t been any inkling of post-conflict planning.”

The topography of the city has been altered by the war. Nestled along the right bank of the Tigris, Mosul al-Qadimah was long the busy, bustling heart of the city filled with markets and prospering businesses. The formerly spare and professional districts of the left bank have been transformed into a new city center. As many have been displaced from the west side of the city, east Mosul appears alive with activity. Shops bustle with customers and restaurant tables are full.

Today, crossing the bridge into the Old City feels like entering another world. The transition is slow at first, then sudden. The checkpoints multiply and the streets grow emptier with every meter. The inner guts of the houses have been ripped open — the concrete and wires that make up the walls of homes point to the sky like strange fingers.

The Old City was singularly destroyed. Other neighborhoods on the west side bear the signs of the bombardment in broken buildings and heavy security, but they are also slowly returning to life. A few minutes away is an open-air market full of tradesmen plying their wares, which range from a signature crispy eggplant shawarma to fresh fish – Mosul is famous for its red carp, normally grilled whole over an open flame. The Old City looks dead in comparison.

When the battle to take back Mosul was announced in October 2016, it only took three months for Iraqi security forces to retake the eastern half of the city. By late January, Daesh had been pushed to the west side, where the last remaining fighters dug in their heels. They blew up the bridges as they went, isolating river bank neighborhoods like the Old City, fortifying densely-packed areas, and fighting a close-quarters battle for each street. The civilians who lived there couldn’t leave, as Daesh herded them from house to house as residential neighborhoods became the battleground. To escape the fighting, civilians had to make a run for it in the midst of the chaos. Those caught trying to flee to Iraqi troops — who were sometimes mere meters away — were treated as traitors to the caliphate and shot.

The Old City’s maze of narrow, winding streets were too difficult for maneuvering by armored forces from Iraq and its western allies (principally the U.S. but also Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Australia). Death from the air became the Iraqi and U.S. weapon of choice.

Zahra Billah is 54 years old, but looks much older. She lives with her daughter, Ismaa, and her grandchildren on the same street she was born on. Her family are the only people living on her street now. Her home, in stark contrast to all of the houses around it, is the only one standing. “The government wanted to destroy Daesh, but it is the people who paid for it with death – with our houses, with this destruction,” she says.

Infrastructure was one of the first casualties of the bombs. Billah’s house survived, but there is no system of infrastructure for it to connect to – it makes being poor expensive. It’s not that the essentials aren’t available – it’s just that everything costs money. It means carrying in bottled water for all their daily drinking, cooking, cleaning, and showering. Renting a portable gasoline generator for a few hours a day, to supply electricity, costs nearly as much as the rent. A small gas canister burner does all the cooking and heating.

Three generations of women live in this house. This is not the first war they have lived through. Billah remembers the nine years of kerosene heaters from the war with Iran back in the 1980s, the Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991, and of course the U.S. invasion in 2003. But she says none of them compared to the U.S.-Iraqi war against Daesh.

“I was born here and I grew up here and I have never seen anything like this,” she says. “They destroyed the neighborhood. The reason for all of this, I don’t know.”

After victory was declared over Daesh, Defense Secretary James Mattis addressed the press triumphantly. “There has been no military in the world’s history that has paid more attention to limiting civilian casualties and the deaths of innocents on the battlefield than the coalition military,” Mattis said. “Precision gave us options that we never had before in history.”

It was a precision strike that caused the single greatest instance of civilian deaths in the course of the Mosul battle – possibly the largest incident since the American invasion in 2003. On March 17, coalition surveillance identified two Daesh snipers on the roof of a three-story building in West Mosul’s al-Jadidah district. What they didn’t know at the time was that hundreds of civilians were sheltering inside the basement. An airstrike was called in, and a single 500-pound bomb was dropped by American fighter jet. The strike leveled the building, and the one next door. Rescuers were unable to reach the area for days, and the damage was so catastrophic it took weeks to pull all the bodies from the rubble.

Under immense international pressure, the U.S.-led coalition admitted responsibility for the strike and paused its air campaign to conduct an investigation. The selected bomb was intended to kill only the two snipers on the roof. The U.S. report claimed that the strike then inadvertently triggered a stockpile of explosives placed in the building by Daesh fighters, bringing the whole structure down on civilians hiding in the basement. Iraqi officials and locals in the al-Jadidah district disputed those findings, saying they found no evidence of explosives when they arrived at the site to remove the bodies.

When rescuers finally finished clearing the wreckage, 213 civilian bodies were pulled from the site of the strike, the head municipal engineer in charge of Mosul’s al-Jadidah sector, Doraid Hazzim, told The Intercept (the coalition acknowledges 105 civilians killed). Hazzim says the kind of error that occurred at al-Jadidah was far from exceptional. “This happened many times,” he says. “A Daesh fighter stands on a roof and shoots at the army, but the house would be full of civilians.”

The massacre at al-Jadidah was in March, after which things only got worse. In May, Mattis stated that coalition forces had shifted to using “annihilation tactics” in Mosul. Shortly afterward, the battle reached its most bloody heights. But an increase in civilian casualties can be linked to decisions that the U.S. had made months before.

A directive, made in December 2016 by the commander of coalition forces, Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, delegated bombing authority to American advisors embedded with Iraqi units, allowing more commanders in the field to call in airstrikes. Rather than waiting for “deliberate strikes,” which involve intelligence gathering and monitoring before authorizing an air strike, the change allowed for “dynamic strikes” called in from the front lines. In the final stages of the battle, coalition authorities say over 90% of strikes fell under the dynamic category.

Officials argue that the December directive allowed commanders on the front lines to make quicker decisions in the midst of battle, and that while the coalition was dropping the bombs, it was Iraqi units leading the charge who were pointing out the targets. “We did delegate authority to lower-level commanders, which increased safety – not decreased it,” Eric Pahon, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, told The Intercept.

This does not appear to be correct.

“There was a very close correlation between the intensity of the coalition and Iraqi bombardment and the number of civilians being killed or injured,”explains Chris Woods of AirWars, an independent monitor that tracks airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. “Now that sounds obvious, but actually the raw data said the more bombs and missiles you drop, the more civilians you’re going to kill – that’s exactly what happened.”

After surveying city morgues and gravesites, the Associated Press estimates that between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians were killed in Mosul, and estimates that coalition or Iraqi forces were responsible for at least 3,200. But that’s just an estimate — in the chaos of war, it’s hard to be sure who killed whom. A groundbreaking investigation by the New York Times was the first and only systematic study of civilian casualties by coalition airstrikes. The Times visited the sites of more than a hundred air strikes throughout Iraq, and used satellite imagery and information shared by the coalition to get a representative sample that included both when strikes hit their intended targets, and when they didn’t. The investigation found that one in five coalition strikes killed civilians – more than 31 times higher than the coalition’s self-conducted reporting.

“The narrative of the coalition’s war is ‘we’re better than Russia because we use precision bombs, and therefore we don’t kill as many civilians,’” says Woods. “What we think has been clearly demonstrated is that any benefits of so-called precision warfare really have run up against the numbers.”

The woman in the pink hijab is angry. She screams, asking why the journalists haven’t come to look at her house.

She takes us down a small street cramped by hanging metal, expertly navigating the pocked ground and surrounding rubble to a small doorway. Through it is a mountain of rocks surrounded by four walls. The roof and a second floor shattered into small chunks. What is left of her living room is open to the clear blue sky. Um Zaman climbs to the top of one of the hills of concrete to point out the extent of the damage. The mound is high enough to see over what’s left of the wall adjoining the building next door. All that remains of the neighboring house is a single sunken azure-tiled peak of an arched doorway, a bygone world floating above the ruins.

“This is my house. This is the room where my son died, along with his wife. They were sleeping,” Um Zaman says.

Um Zaman is one of the people who paid the highest price for airstrikes. She stayed in her house in the Old City throughout Islamic State rule, until the airstrike hit. In the remains of a bedroom in what’s left of her house is a white sheet held down by broken pieces of stone. Under it, Um Zaman says, lie the bodies of her neighbors, buried in shallow graves among the debris. “The planes came and killed them as they were sleeping,” she repeats, still incredulous. “He had a son and a daughter who were with him, they all died. People from the neighborhood buried him. They did not even have a shroud … They came back to cover them with blankets.”

Um Zaman cannot live in her house anymore. It is too broken, she only comes back to try and find some of her possessions among the ruins. She stands amid the mausoleum as furious as if the airstrike were yesterday. There were only two Daesh fighters on the roof when the warplanes came, she insists.

Parsing out just which party to the fighting is responsible for particular damage is difficult. Not least because there were so many explosions, it’s hard to tell who caused what. In areas where airstrikes were more isolated, it’s possible to compare reports from the field with satellite data and surveillance that the coalition conducted before a deliberate strike. In the Old City, where almost every building was destroyed, determining responsibility for individual airstrikes is all but impossible. Daesh used powerful car bombs against encroaching forces, so those forces responded with airstrikes. The month of June saw the coalition drop 4,100 bombs – one every ten and a half minutes.

It’s been nine months since fighting ended. Hazzim, the head engineer in the al-Jadida district, does not believe that the threat from Daesh merited such a destructive response. “They definitely bombed more than was necessary,” he said. “They could surround the city and stop letting food come in. It takes time but they would not use bombs. There could be another way.”

A gaggle of children outside of Um Zaman’s home casually point out the homes where dead bodies of ISIS fighters are still left behind. People can give directions to dead bodies the same way that in other neighborhoods they would give directions to the nearest pharmacy. Nine months after the fighting finished, some bodies still lie on top of the ground, rotting and making the air toxic to breathe.

A few blocks away, at Mar Thoma Church, an Iraqi soldier gives us a grisly tour of bodies that remain uncleared. The first body is just behind the gate. The skin on his face has turned black and shriveled with time. He was a Daesh fighter, the soldier, Rihab Naib, tells us. If it was not for his eerily un-decayed beard and teeth, it would be hard to recognize him as human. Deeper in the church’s courtyard, one of the bodies has two cigarettes stabbed out in its eye sockets. “The soldiers did that and took selfies,” Naib says matter-of-factly, and keeps walking.

Leaving the church, our sentry hears a noise at the end of the street — his hand goes to the gun at his hip and we hear the staccato sound of the safety unlocking. An old man pushing a shopping cart emerges from around the corner, and the soldier relaxes. “Don’t be scared,” he smiles.

Satisfied at having protected the journalists, Naib settles into the checkpoint where he is stationed near the Old City’s two Christian churches. He is a member of the Popular Mobilization Forces, a militia of Shia volunteers assembled in 2014 to support the Iraqi army in retaking Mosul. The PMF has now settled into a security role that has far outlasted the offensive. A few meters up the street is another checkpoint, and past that another. Many of these checkpoints are quasi-official, little more than a teenager sitting on a reclining armchair with a Kalashnikov resting on his knees, or a few men standing around smoking cigarettes and drinking tea and stopping people as they pass.

Naib says it is the responsibility of the local municipality to remove the bodies. Hizzam, who works for the municipality, says it’s the armed forces’ job to clear the corpses of those killed in battle. Hizzam only has thirteen people working with him and they do not have enough basic equipment like body bags, gloves, and masks.

The federal government has not disbursed any money at all to Mosul for reconstruction, and a budget crisis means that many municipal employees haven’t been paid their salaries in months. “They have given zero,” Hazzim told The Intercept. “Until now there has only been promises, nothing more than that,” he added. “We work out of hope for the future.”

Hazzim says that they have removed 2,685 civilian bodies and 690 bodies of Daesh fighters since July. When asked why so many bodies were still out in the open, his first response was, “Are they Daesh?”

Behind the trading of blame is an unspoken element – there is a special disgust reserved for Daesh that extends beyond just the fighters, to the homes and even whole neighborhoods they occupied. Houses that once belonged to Daesh are marked with the word “Daesh” spray painted in large letters. The bodies were at first left behind as an insult – but as the weeks, then later months ticked by, the decaying corpses went from being a symbol of victory to a symbol of neglect.

Naib is not from Mosul. Like most others from the PMF, he hails from the south of Iraq, where Shias are the majority. Naib represents a link in a chain of checkpoints that have defined Mosul’s streets since the U.S. invasion. Iraq’s Sunnis had dominated the government under Saddam Hussein, but that changed after 2003, and now Sunnis in Mosul feel neglected by the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad. For years they have seen the checkpoints in their city as a symbol of oppression by the majority Shia. ISIS is now gone but the checkpoints are back, many manned by soldiers who regard locals with suspicion. The feeling is mutual. Tensions did not disappear with Daesh

Passing Naib’s checkpoint at an intersection in front of the church, Nineveh Street leads through the Old City back to Billah’s house. On the opposite corner is a mosque whose gardens have been appropriated as an impromptu graveyard. For families like Billah’s, for whom all the working men have died, their only assistance comes from the congregation, which pools donations and distributes them. “People know each other here. You know me, I know you. It’s like a family,” says Billah. “But everyone is poor here, even the mokhtar.”

Billah says the biggest change since Daesh fell is that women can walk on the street freely to go out and buy things. But there is barely a corner grocery store in the Old City, and apart from checkpoints, she doesn’t see the Iraqi state any more than she did during the Daesh occupation. “Politicians never come here,” she says with annoyed cynicism. “The government is interested more in politics than in the citizens. They are interested in themselves.”

In the Greek myth of Pandora’s box, a woman named Pandora inadvertently opens a box that releases all of the evils out into the world. Out of the box fly fear, jealousy, anger, war and all the pain that afflicts humanity. The last thing to fly out of the box is hope.

Greeks debated the meaning of the myth. Was hope a final mercy from the gods to allow humanity to survive all the other evils just released into the world? Or was hope – which kept the foolhardy from acknowledging reality – the ultimate evil?

Abulrahman, the mokhtar, says he has big plans for his neighborhood. He wants to build a school and library. He talks with his hands, painting vivid dreams in the air. “I really want the United Nations to participate and bring experts from America, Japan or Germany who can do things like make gardens for the children, because the children should stop playing in rubble. It takes years to clear these experiences,” he says, gesturing around him.

But now he is stuck in limbo waiting for funds. His work outweighs the power of his toolbox. He can patch up holes from bullets and shrapnel, but he can’t rebuild a whole house. Nor can he raise the spirits of an entire neighborhood that has suffered a deep collective trauma and doesn’t have the tools it needs to recover. “A human becomes a monster,” he contemplates. “That’s the problem, and that has made us anxious. People do their best to keep their situation stable. But psychologically, they are totally destroyed.”

A straight-talking pragmatist, Abdulrahman frames things in terms of problems and solutions. But being the village optimist of the neighborhood weighs on him, and his frank words betray a sense of unease. “The destruction has really hit hearts,” he says. “Spirits are down. They want to go back to what was before, but so much hate has been created.”

A few blocks away at Um Zaman’s house, the streets are quiet. The sounds of hammering fade into the distance and the ground becomes harder to navigate. The fallen buildings and hills of collateral damage make the landscape look as though the war was yesterday. Um Zaman’s neighborhood does not have a mokhtar to help with rebuilding.  She has lost enough to become cynical and is dubious of the future.

“After a year or a month, nothing will change,” she says. She lives on the east side of the city now with two young children who survived the war. She does not know how she will support them. “I just came to see things,” she says. “How could I live here?”

Her voice hard, she answers herself: “There is no way to.”


War Fever

There is a fever that seizes this land from time to time and it is the fever of war, a condition that this time seems immune to all known cures, starting with reason, as Daniel Lazare explores.

April 19, 2018

by Daniel Lazare

Consortium News

What happens when an unthinkable war meets an unbeatable case of war fever?  Thanks to Russia-gate, unsubstantiated reports about the use of poison gas in Syria, and a slew of similar factoids and pseudo-scandals, the world may soon find out.

In saner times, including during the Cold War at even its most heated, political leaders knew not to push a conflict with a rival nuclear power too far.  After all, what was the point of getting into a fight in which everyone would lose?

Cooler heads thus prevailed in Washington while more excitable sorts were shipped off to where they could do no harm.  This is what kept the peace during the U-2 affair, the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban missile crisis and what promised to continue doing so even after the advent of American “unipolarity” in 1989-92.

But that was then.  Today, the question is no longer how to avoid a fight that can only lead to catastrophe, but how to avoid a showdown with a country that “in the past four years has annexed Crimea, intervened in eastern Ukraine, sought to influence the American election in 2016, allegedly poisoned a former Russian spy living in Britain and propped up the murderous government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria,” to quote the bill of indictment in a recent front-page article in The New York Times.

Given that the list of alleged atrocities expands with virtually each passing week, the answer, increasingly, is: no way, no how.  Since Russia is bent on spreading “conflict and discord” throughout the west – if only in the eyes of the U.S., that is – confrontation grows more and more likely.

A Very American Coup

This is despite the fact that the offenses cited by the Times are each more complex or dubious than the “newspaper of record” is willing to concede.  The annexation of the Crimea, for instance, was a response to a US-financed, neo-Nazi-spearheaded coup in Kiev in February 2014 that caused the rickety Ukrainian state to collapse and sent Russophones in the east fleeing for protection into the arms of Moscow.  After investing more than $5 billion to steer the Ukraine in such a disastrous direction according to then-Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the US blamed Russia for the consequences.  (See quote beginning at 7:42.)  As for charges of interference in the 2016 election, the Times itself noted back in January 2017 that the formal CIA-FBI-NSA “assessment” blaming the Kremlin was notably bereft of factual back-up. As the paper put it:

“[T]he declassified report contained no information about how the agencies had collected their data or had come to their conclusions.  So it is bound to be attacked by skeptics and by partisans of Mr. Trump, who see the review as a political effort to impugn the legitimacy of his election.”

Quite right.  But now evidence-free assertions are accepted as fact while anyone who says otherwise is ignored or shouted down. Questions linger with regard to the March 4 poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, most notably why a supposedly ultra-powerful nerve agent would not take effect for more than seven hours.  (Someone supposedly smeared the nerve agent on the front door of Sergei’s home in Salisbury, England, which he and his daughter left around nine in the morning.  Yet it was not until 4:15 p.m. that they were found incapacitated on a park bench after visiting a pub and eating at a local restaurant.)

As for “the murderous government of President Bashar al-Assad,” such talk would be silly if the consequences weren’t so dire.  After all, it wasn’t Assad who flooded Syria with tens of thousands of jihadis bent on massacring Christian, Druse, Alawites, and secularists.  To the contrary, it was the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the other Arab Gulf states.  As a now declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report noted back in August 2012:

—  “The Salafist[s], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [i.e. Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency”;

—  “The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the [rebel] opposition”;

—  “If the situation unravels further, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria”;

—  “…[T]his is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition [i.e. the US, Turkey, and the gulf states] want in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion….”

A Sectarian War

In other words, the US and its Sunni Arab allies launched a sectarian war against the Alawite-backed Syrian regime with the full knowledge that an Al Qaeda state in eastern Syria might well be the result.  Yet now they blame Assad for defending himself against the Salafist onslaught and Russia for helping him.  It is a case of launching a neo-medieval sectarian war and then crying foul when the other side dares to fight back.

One would think that cooler heads might inject a note of sanity before things get completely out of hand.  But the opposite seems to be the case.  The more temperatures rise, the more congressmen, journalists, think-tank experts, and other hangers-on conclude that it is advantageous to jump on the bandwagon and drive passions up even more.  Pro-war frenzy leads to more of the same.  The more reason is needed, the scarcer it becomes.

Indeed, it sometimes seems that the only halfway sane person left in Washington is Donald Trump, who, according to a strange report inSunday’s Washington Post, is fighting a desperate rear-guard action against neocons bent on ratcheting up tensions to ever higher levels.

Reporters Greg Jaffe, John Hudson, and Philip Rucker described a bizarre scene at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Florida resort last month in which aides were only able to persuade the president to expel sixty Russian diplomats in retaliation for the Skripal poisoning by promising him that allies would toss out an equal number in Europe.  When France and Germany only expelled four Russians each, Trump felt double-crossed.  “I don’t care about the total,” he reportedly screamed when the aides tried to explain that the number expelled by all European nations would eventually approach the U.S. figure.  “There were curse words,” one official told the Post, “a lot of curse words.”

Similarly, when Congress approved a new round of anti-Russian sanctions in July, the article says it took aides four days to persuade Trump to sign the bill even though it had cleared with a veto-proof majority that made it a virtual fait accompli.  The Post said the same thing occurred when aides tried to convince him to sell antitank missiles to the Ukraine for use against pro-Russian separatists.  “Why is this our problem?” he reportedly asked.  “Why not let the Europeans deal with Ukraine?”  When CIA Director Mike Pompeo, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis added their voices to the chorus, all the president could do was whine, “I just want peace.”

Everyone Agreed–Except Trump

Of course, when Donald Trump is the sole remaining voice of reason, then we’re really in trouble.  The infighting escalated even further on Monday after Haley vowed to slap still more sanctions on Russia for the crime of backing Assad.  “They have done nothing but brutalize their people and destroy their land, all in the name of power,” she said of the Baathists on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”  So Russia would have to pay the price.

Everyone agreed, Republicans, Democrats, and the corporate media – everyone, that is, except Trump.  Defying his neocon captors, he undercut Haley by declaring that sanctions would not be forthcoming after all.  White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was left to gamely assert that “the president has been clear that he’s going to be tough on Russia, but at the same time he’d still like to have a good relationship with them.”

Times columnist Michelle Goldberg was so flabbergasted by Trump’s about-face that she wondered whether reports that Putin was using a secret “pee tape” to force him into line might not be true after all.

But of course – who else would want an end to hostilities with Russia other than a crazy man or someone under duress?  War with a nuclear power is something that no sane person really wants to avoid, right?

U.S. foreign policy is caught in a powerful contradiction.  A military showdown with a fellow nuclear power is unthinkable.  Yet pausing for a moment to consider where all this madness is leading is out of the question.  Two forces are colliding, war on one hand and a general inability to think things through in a clear-headed way on the other.

It’s a case of a herd of independent minds stampeding over a cliff – not because someone is forcing them to, but because they don’t know how to stop.


How Mossad carries out assassinations

Fatal shooting in Malaysia puts spotlight on Israeli spy agency’s policy of targeted killings of Palestinian operatives.

April 22, 2018

by Ali Younes

Al Jazeera

The killing of 35-year-old Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur has taken the wraps off a covert programme of targeted killings of Palestinians deemed a threat by Israel.

Al-Batsh studied electrical engineering in Gaza before going on to earn a PhD in the same subject in Malaysia.

He specialised in power systems and energy saving and had published a number scientific papers on the subject.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas said al-Batsh was an important member of the group and accused Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency of being behind Saturday’s incident.

Calling him a “loyal” member, Hamas said al-Batsh was a “scientist of Palestine’s youth scholars” who made “important contributions” and participated in international forums in the field of energy.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, al-Batsh’s father said he suspected Mossad of being behind his son’s killing and appealed to Malaysian authorities to unravel the “assassination” plot as soon as possible.

According to the Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman, who is one of the foremost experts on Israeli intelligence and author of the book Rise and Kill First, the murder of al-Batsh bears all the hallmarks of a Mossad operation.

“The fact that the killers used a motorcycle to kill their target, which has been used in many other Mossad operations before and being done as a clean, professional killing operation far away from Israel, points to Mossad’s involvement,” Bergman told A Jazeera by phone.

Identification of target

Identifying a target for assassination by Israeli intelligence usually runs through several institutional and organisational steps within Mossad, the broader Israeli intelligence community and the political leadership.

Sometimes the target is identified by other Israeli domestic and military services.

For example, al-Batsh could have been identified as a target through general collection of intelligence via units inside Israeli military and intelligence organisations that follow Hamas.

Al-Batsh could also have been identified through other Israeli intelligence operations and Israeli spy networks around the world.

Sources tell Al Jazeera that Hamas communications between Gaza, Istanbul (Turkey) and Beirut (Lebanon) are tightly monitored by Israeli intelligence networks. As such, the initial selection of al-Batsh could well have been made through these channels.

Friends of al-Batsh who spoke to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity said he did not hide his ties to Hamas.

“He was known within the Palestinian community for his ties to Hamas,” one friend said.

The assassination process

Once al-Batsh was identified as a target, Mossad would then have evaluated available intelligence to decide whether he should be killed, what the benefits of killing him were and the best way to do it.

Once the Mossad’s specialised unit finishes its file on the target, it takes its findings to the heads of Intelligences Services Committee, which comprises the chiefs of Israeli intelligence organisations and is known by its Hebrew acronym, VARASH, or Vaadan Rashei Ha-sherutim.

VARASH would only discuss the operation and provide input and suggestions.

However, it does not have the legal authority to approve an operation.

Only the prime minister of Israel has the authority to approve such an operation.

Bergman says that Israeli prime ministers typically prefer not to take that decision by themselves for political reasons.

“Oftentimes the prime minister would involve one or two other ministers in the decision to approve, which oftentimes includes the minister of defence,” Bergman said.

Once the approval is obtained, the operation then moves back to Mossad for planning and execution, which could take weeks, months or even years, depending on the target.

The Caesarea unit

Caesarea is an undercover operational branch within Mossad in charge of planting and running spies mainly inside Arab countries and around the world.

The unit was established in the early 1970s, and one of its founders was a famous Israeli, spy Mike Harari.

Caesarea utilises its vast spy network in Arab states and the wider Middle East to collect information and conduct surveillance against current and future targets.

Harari then established Caesarea’s most lethal unit, known in Hebrew as Kidon (“the bayonet”), made up of professional killers specialised in assassination and sabotage operations.

Kidon members are often drawn from Israeli military branches including the army or special forces.

It is likely Kidon members who killed al-Batsh in Kuala Lumpur; sources told Al Jazeera.

Mossad targeted not only Palestinian leaders and operatives but also Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian and European ones.

Targeted killing operations

Caesarea is equivalent to the CIA’s Special Activities Center (SAC), which used to be called Special Activities Division before its reorganisation and name change in 2016.

The CIA conducts its top-secret paramilitary missions – including targeted killing operations – through its Special Operation Group ( SOG), which is part of the SAC and bears some similarities to Mossad’s Kidon.

Bergman writes that, until 2000, which marked the beginning of the second Intifada in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel had conducted more than 500 assassination operations that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 people, including the targets and bystanders.

During the Second Intifada, Israel conducted 1,000 more operations, of which 168 succeeded, he writes in his book.

Since then, Israel has carried out at least another 800 operations aimed at killing Hamas civilian and military leaders in the Gaza Strip and abroad.

Arab-Mossad cooperation

Mossad maintains formal organisational and historical links with a number of Arab intelligence services, notably the Jordanian and Moroccan spy agencies.

More recently, and in light of shifting alliances in the region and rising threats from armed non-state actors, Mossad has expanded its links with Arab intelligence agencies to include a number of Arab Gulf states and Egypt.

Mossad maintains a regional hub for its operations in the wider Middle East in the Jordanian capital Amman.

When Mossad attempted to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Amman in 1997 by spraying a lethal dose of poison into his ear, it was a threat by the late King Hussein to close down the spy agency’s Amman station and sever Jordanian-Mossad ties that prompted Israel to provide the antidote that saved Mashaal’s life.

In his book, Bergman cites Mossad sources to claim that General Samih Batikhi, Jordan’s spy chief at the time, was angry with Mossad for not keeping him informed about the assassination plot because he had wanted to plan the operation together.

Another Arab country that maintains strong ties to Mossad since the 1960s is Morocco, according to Bergman’s research.

“Morocco has received valuable intelligence and technical assistance from Israel, and, in exchange, [late King] Hassan allowed Morocco’s Jews to emigrate to Israel, and Mossad received the right to establish a permanent station in the capital Rabat, from which it could spy on Arab countries,” Bergman writes.

The cooperation reached a peak when Morocco allowed Mossad to bug the meeting rooms and private chambers of Arab heads of states and their military commanders during the Arab League summit in Rabat in 1965.

The summit had been convened to establish a joint Arab military command.

CIA and Mossad methods

Unlike Mossad and other Israeli intelligence organisations that have great leeway in deciding who to kill, the American CIA uses a strenuous multi-tier legal process that involves the CIA’s Office of General Counsel, the US Department of Justice and the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel.

The execution of a targeted killing operation by the CIA ultimately rests on a Presidential Finding Authorization, which is a legal document often drafted by the CIA’s Office of General Counsel and the Department of Justice.

The President Finding Authorization provides the legal authority through which the CIA can execute its targeted assassination missions.

A multi-agency review process, conducted mainly by lawyers at the justice department, the White House and the CIA, has to take place before the president puts his signature on the Presidential Finding Authorization.

It is estimated that Barack Obama, as the US president, authorised an estimated 353 targeted killing operations, mainly in the form of drone strikes.His predecessor George W Bush authorised an estimated 48 targeted killing operations.

The legal process

A former senior CIA official told Al Jazeera on the condition of anonymity that “the CIA does not decide who to kill”.

“The legal process makes it very difficult for the CIA to kill someone just because the CIA thinks he is a bad guy,” he said.

Most of the CIA’s targeted killing operations involve drone strikes and are based on authorisation by the president.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Robert Baer, a former CIA operations officer, said: “The White House must sign off on any targeted killing operation, especially if it is a high-value target.

“It is a different case, however, if the operation is conducted in battlefields or during wars like in Afghanistan or Iraq, in which case field officers have more legal room to do their targeted killing.”

In Mossad, the legality of any assassination of any target is much more liberal and does not involve legal constraints similar to those followed by the CIA, according to sources familiar with the process.

“It is part of their national policy,” Baer said, referring to the Israeli targeted assassination policy.


The Attack on Iran: Israel’s Plans for a US Action

April 22, 2018

by Christian Jürs


1.The problem under consideration here is that Iran has, or will have, a nuclear weapon within a two year time span. If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, Israelis are afraid Iran will use it on them.

2.Israel would have logistical problems attacking Iran. Any attack would have to be an aerial attack, using fighter-bombers to pin-point known Iranian nuclear facilities.

The current opinion in some circles, mostly in the United States, is that at some point in the near future, the growing threat or re-imposition of devastating economic sanctions on Iran will convince its radical religious leaders to terminate their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Also, there is the growing hope that the CIA’s funded Iran’s Green Movement will overthrow, a la the Ukrainian Orange Revolution and replace the Muslim fundamentalist regime, or at the very least find the means to modify and secularize the regime’s ideological extremism. It is also possible that disrupting operations  now being implemented by the intelligence agencies of Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and other Western powers—programs designed to subvert the Iranian nuclear effort through physical sabotage and, upon occasion, the carefully engineered disappearances of nuclear scientists—will have derailed Iran’s progress towards achieving the capacity to produce nuclear weapons.

It is now planned in Tel Aviv that senior Israeli officials, representing both their political and military establishments, will come to Washington for conferences both with their American counterparts and, eventually, with President Trmup. These conversations, which have been carefully planned and scripted, will have the Israelis advising their American counterparts that they are planning an attack, nuclear or non-nuclear as the situation develops, on Iran because a nuclear Iran poses the ‘gravest threat since Hitler’ to the physical survival of the Jewish people. The Israelis will also state that they believe that  by launching a preemptive strike at all possible Iranian sites suspected of participation in their nuclear program they have a reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear program for at least three to five years,. Further, talking-point secret Israeli memos state: Israel will inform their American counterparts that Israel has no other choice than to launch this attack. They will not ask for permission for this attack, because it will soon be too late to ask for permission.

Insofar as President Trump is concerned, the Israelis are considering the most important point of these interviews would be to discover as to what would be the circumstances under which President Trump would move to halt the Iranian projects. The primary point, then, is to convince the Americans that only military force, i.e., heavy bombing raids, would be able to “totally obliterate Iran’s attempts to get a nuclear weapon and, further, to prevent them from rebuilding their infrastructure in the foreseeable future.” From the Israeli point of view, all of their future actions, which also include the use of their own nuclear weapons on Tehran depends entirely upon the answers, primarily of the President but also of the American military leadership..

Also, in the possible event that the American President were to agree fully with Israeli wishes, i.e., to use American aircraft to obliterate the perceived Iranian threat by bombing specific, and even general, Iranian targets, could an Israeli-sponsored domestic American propaganda campaign to encourage sections of the American public, outside of the fully-cooperative Jewish community, to support such an American attack.

At the present time, it is well-established that Israeli agents, Mossad and others, have inserted themselves into all the instruments of power and propaganda in the United States where they have sent any pertinent information to Israel and kept up a steady offensive against the minds, and wills, of the American people. Also, many of the more prominent American newspapers, such as the New York Times is entirely Jewish-owned, this is stated to be the most receptive to the needs of both Washington and Tel Aviv.

Israel is fully prepared to take a chance on permanently alienating American affection in order to make a high-risk attempt at stopping Iran. If Iran retaliates against American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, the consequences for Israel’s relationship with America’s military leadership could be catastrophic.

It has been seriously discussed in Tel Aviv and in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, that probably the best way to compel the American public and through them, the President, to unilateral action, would not be to launch an attack on Tehran but instead, attack America through a false-flag operation. This would consist of a believable attack, or attempted attack, on a major American target a la the 9/11 Saudi-supported attacks.

The most current plan would be for a known militant Arab anti-Israel group, Hezbollah, to actually deliver an atomic device to the city of New York, or, alternatively, to Washington.

The American Central Intelligence Agency, now seeking to reshape its negative image, would report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the exact details of the arrival and placement of the bomb.

The actual bomb would be genuine but would have a part that was malfunctioning, thus rendering the weapon impossible to detonate. The Arabs involved in this delivery would have in their number, a Yemeni Jew, such as the ones that instigated the 9/11 Saudi attacks, and this sleeper would carry numerous forged documents “proving” that Tehran was directly behind this planned attack.

Revelation of these documents by the fully-supportive New York Times and Washington Post would immediately swing a significant bulk of the American public behind an immediate attack on Tehran with the purpose of neutralizing its atomic weapons capacity.

This program is now on the table and undercover Israeli agents, posing as top-level Iranian operatives, have located a small group of Hizbollah in Lebanon who would be willing to deliver and prepare this device in New York or, as an alternative, Washington itself. Israeli intelligence feels that the use of Hizbollah personnel would entirely justify their obliterating Hizbollah-controlled territory in southern Lebanon that now house many thousands of long-range surface to surface missiles that could easily reach Tel Aviv and other vital Israeli targets.

This action, which has already been planned in detail, would be conducted by Israel alone and would compliment the projected American attack on Tehran. Israel stresses the fact that both attacks must be simultaneous lest a forewarned Hezbollah launch rocket attacks on Israel upon hearing of the American attack. Timing here is considered to be absolutely vital.

Both Israel and Hezbollah have accused UNIFIL of bias. Israel again accused them of failing to prevent, and even collaborating with, Hezbollah in its replenishment of military power. Hezbollah, in turn, said “certain contingents” of UNIFIL are spying for, if not assisting, Israel.

Israel has long been a serious planning for a future invasion of Lebanon and such an assault would continue attacking until both Hezbollah’s membership and their system of tunnels and bunkers was completely destroyed, because Israel will never tolerate a “zone of invulnerability” occupied by a sworn enemy, or a double threat posed by Hezbollah’s rockets.

In the event that Israeli military aircraft attack Tehran, there is the vital necessity that these Israeli military aircraft would be under great pressure to return to base at once because Israeli intelligence believes that Iran would immediately order Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israeli cities, and Israeli air-force resources would be needed to hunt Hezbollah rocket teams.

Israel’s Northern Command, at its headquarters near the Lebanese border, is ordered that in the event of a unilateral Israeli or American strike on Iran, their mission would be to attack and completely destroy any and all identified Hezbollah rocket forces, by any and all means necessary, to include small nuclear devices that could destroy a number of square miles of what is called ‘terrorist territory’ and render it useless as any future base of attack against Israel. At the present time the Iranians are keeping their Hezbollah firm ally in reserve until Iran can cross the nuclear threshold.

During  the years since the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon Hezbollah has greatly increased its surface-to-surface missile capability, and an American/Israeli strike on Iran, would immediately provoke all-out retaliation by Iran’s Lebanese subsidiary, Hezbollah, which now possesses, by most Israeli/American intelligence estimates, as many as 45,000 surface-to-surface rockets—at least three times as many as it had in the summer of 2006, during the last round of fighting between the group and Israel. It is further known that Russia has sent large numbers of longer range surface-to-surface missiles to Syria which has, in turn, shipped them to Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. These missiles have the capacity to easily reach Tel Aviv and Israelis are very concerned that a massive rocket barrage deep into Israel could not only do serious damage to their infrastructure but could easily provoke a mass immigration of Israelis to other areas, thus depriving Israel of both civilian and military personnel it would certainly need in the event of increased Arab military actions against Israel.

Even if Israel’s Northern Command successfully combated Hezbollah rocket attacks in the wake of an Israeli strike, which American experts have deemed to be “nearly impossible” political limitations would not allow Israel to make repeated sorties over Iran. “America, too, would look complicit in an Israeli attack, even if it had not been forewarned. The assumption—that Israel acts only with the full approval of the United States is a feature of life in the Middle East, and it is one the Israelis are taking into account. A serious danger here to Israeli attack plans would be if the United States got wind of the imminence of such an attack and demanded that Israel cease and desist in its actions. Would Israel then stop? Though highly unlikely, this is an unpleasant and unacceptable

At this time, the Israelis have drawn up specific plans to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and the Bushehr reactor, along with four other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program that have been identified by joint past and present Israeli-American aerial surveillance.

If Israeli aircraft succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, all well and good but even if  they fail to damage or destroy these targets ,such an attack is feared by American and other nations as risking a devastating change in the Middle East. Such an attack could initiate immediate reprisals such as a massed rocket attack by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon as well as other actions from neighboring Muslim states.

This could become a major diplomatic crisis for President Trump that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the international price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of seriously endangering Jewish groups around the world, and especially in the United States by making them the targets of Muslim-originated terror attacks and most certainly accelerating the growing immigration of many Israelis to what they felt might be much safer areas.

An Israeli political and military consensus has now emerged that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by December of 2010. (Of course, it is in the Israeli interest to let it be known that the country is considering military action, if for no other reason than to concentrate the attention of the Trump administration. The Netanyahu government is already intensifying its analytic efforts not just on Iran, but on a subject many Israelis have difficulty understanding: President Trump.

The Israelis argue that Iran demands the urgent attention of the entire international community, and in particular the United States, with its unparalleled ability to project military force. This is the position of many moderate Arab leaders as well that if America allowed Iran to cross the nuclear threshold, the small Arab countries of the Gulf would have no choice but to leave the American orbit and ally themselves with Iran, out of self-protection. Several Arab leaders have suggested that America’s standing in the Middle East depends on its willingness to confront Iran. They argue, self-interestedly, that an aerial attack on a handful of Iranian facilities would not be as complicated or as messy as, say, invading Iraq. The basic question then is why the Jewish state should trust the non-Jewish president of the United States to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.

For more than a year, these White House officials have parried the charge that their president is unwilling to face the potential consequences of a nuclear Iran, and they are frustrated by what they believe to be a caricature of his position. It is undeniably true, however, that the administration has appeared on occasion less than stalwart on the issue.

One question no administration official seems eager to answer is this: what will the United States do if sanctions fail?

In Israel, of course, officials expend enormous amounts of energy to understand President Trump, despite the assurances they have received from others. Delegations from Netanyahu’s bureau, from the defense and foreign ministries, and from the Israeli intelligence community have been arriving in Washington lately with great regularity. As an alternative to cooperation by Trump, Israel, through her supporters and lobbyists in the United States are preparing to offer extensive financial and other incentives to political opponents of Trump, mostly the right-wing Republicans and American Christian groups and cults. Both of these groups are being cultivated currently with the idea that if Trump will not cooperate, the Republicans will in the future as they always have before. Also to consider is the current antipathy of American Jews for Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and these American Jews, who are, like the president they voted for in overwhelming numbers, generally supportive of a two-state solution, and dubious about Jewish settlement of the West Bank.

Both Israeli and American intelligence agencies are of the firm belief that Iran is, at most, one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability, which is the capacity to assemble more than one missile-ready nuclear device.. The Iranian regime, by its own statements and actions, has made itself Israel’s most zealous foe; and the most crucial component of Israeli national-security doctrine, a tenet that dates back to the 1960s, when Israel developed its own nuclear capability as a response to the Jewish experience during the Holocaust, is that no regional adversary should be allowed to achieve nuclear parity with the reborn and still-besieged Jewish state, the Iranian desire for nuclear weapons and the regime’s theologically motivated desire to see the Jewish state purged from the Middle East

Patriotism in Israel runs very high, according to numerous polls, and it seemed unlikely that mere fear of Iran could drive Israel’s Jews to seek shelter elsewhere. But one leading proponent of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, If Iran crossed the nuclear threshold, the very idea of Israel as a Zionist entity would be endangered. “These people are good citizens, and brave citizens, but the dynamics of life are such that if someone has a scholarship for two years at an American university and the university offers him a third year, the parents will say, ‘Go ahead, remain there,’ If someone finishes a Ph.D. and they are offered a job in America, they might stay there. It will not be that people are running to the airport, but slowly, slowly, the decision-making on the family level will be in favor of staying abroad. The bottom line is that we would have an accelerated brain drain. And an Israel that is not based on entrepreneurship that is not based on excellence will not be the Israel of today.”

Most critically if a Zionist Israel is no longer seen by its 6 million Jewish inhabitants and also by the approximately 7 millions of Jews resident outside of Israel that because of continuing threats from outside the country as no longer a natural safe haven for Jews then the entire concept of a Zionist haven/state is destroyed

To understand why Israelis of different political dispositions see Iran as quite possibly the most crucial challenge they have faced in their 62-year history, one must keep in mind the near-sanctity, in the public’s mind, of Israel’s nuclear monopoly. The Israeli national narrative, in shorthand, begins with shoah, which is Hebrew for “calamity,” and ends with tkumah, “rebirth.” Israel’s nuclear arsenal symbolizes national rebirth, and something else as well: that Jews emerged from World War II having learned at least one lesson, about the price of powerlessness.

If Israel is unable to change Trump’s mind, they will continue to threaten to take unilateral action against Iran by sending approximately one hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran—by crossing Saudi Arabia, and along the border between Syria and Turkey, and, without consulting the Americans or in any way announcing their missions by traveling directly through Iraq’s airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft. (It’s so crowded, in fact, that the United States Central Command, whose area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, has already asked the Pentagon what to do should Israeli aircraft invade its airspace. According to multiple sources, the answer came back: do not shoot them down.)

The first belief by Israeli military planners is that Israel would get only one try. Israeli planes would fly low over Saudi Arabia, bomb their targets in Iran, and return to Israel by flying again over Saudi territory, possibly even landing in the Saudi desert for refueling—perhaps, if speculation rife in intelligence circles is to be believed, with secret Saudi cooperation.

Israel has been working through the United States to procure Saudi cooperation with an Israeli air strike against Tehran and other targets inside Iran.. The Saudis are treating this subject with great caution lest other Arab states learn of their putative cooperation in an Iranian attack with over flights of Saudi territory by Israeli military aircraft.

The current American/Israeli military plans are for the Saudis to turn off their radar after they have been noticed by the American embassy that an Israeli attack is imminent and also to permit the Israeli aircraft to land in their country for refueling The Israelis are not concerned with any kind of Iranian aircraft resistance because their airfields have been pinpointed by American satellites and one of the attacking groups would use low-yield atomic rocketry on all the identified Iranian bases. It is obvious that when, not if, the Saudis part in this becomes public, it will create immense ill-will in neighboring Muslim states, an impression the Saudi government is most anxious not to deal with.

Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy’s nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting—forever, as it turned out—Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions; and in 2007, Israeli planes destroyed a North Korean–built reactor in Syria. An attack on Iran, then, would be unprecedented only in scope and complexity.

The reasoning offered by Israeli decision makers was uncomplicated: At the present moment, Israel possesses 135 nuclear weapons, most of them  mainly two-stage thermonuclear devices, capable of being delivered by missile, fighter-bomber, or submarine (two of which are currently positioned in the Persian Gulf). Netanyahu is worried about an entire complex of problems, not only that Iran, or one of its proxies, would, in all probability, destroy or severely damage Tel Aviv; like most Israeli leaders, he believes that if Iran gains possession of a nuclear weapon, it will use its new leverage to buttress its terrorist proxies in their attempts to make life difficult and dangerous; and that Israel’s status as a haven for Jews would be forever undermined, and with it, the entire raison d’être of the 100-year-old Zionist experiment.

Another question Israeli planners struggle with: how will they know if their attacks have actually destroyed a significant number of centrifuges and other hard-to-replace parts of the clandestine Iranian program? Two strategists told me that Israel will have to dispatch commandos to finish the job, if necessary, and bring back proof of the destruction. The commandos—who, according to intelligence sources, may be launched from the autonomous Kurdish territory in northern Iraq—would be facing a treacherous challenge, but one military planner I spoke with said the army would have no choice but to send them.

Netanyahu’s obvious course is to convince the United States that Iran is not Israel’s problem alone; it is the world’s problem, and the world, led by the United States, is obligated to grapple with it, not Israel alone. It is well-known that Israel by itself could not hope to deal with a retaliation against it by Iran and other Arab states but that a confederation of other nations, led, of course, by the United States could defend Israel against her enemies. The Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, does not place and credence in the current sanctions against Iran, even the ones initiated by the United States at Israel’s urgent request. Is it known that Netanayahu is not happy with President Trumps’s reluctance to support an Israeli attack on Iran and has brought a great deal of political pressure to bear on the President by American Jewish political and business groups.

Netanyahu understands, however, that President Trump, with whom he has had a difficult and intermittently frigid relationship, believes that stringent sanctions, combined with various enticements to engage with the West, might still provide Iran with a face-saving method of standing down.

Israel’s current period of forbearance, in which Israel’s leadership waits to see if the West’s nonmilitary methods can stop Iran, will come to an end this December.  The American defense secretary, said at a meeting of NATO defense ministers that most intelligence estimates predict that Iran is one to three years away from building a nuclear weapon. “

One of the consistent aims of Israel is to pressure President Trump, who has said on a number of occasions that he finds the prospect of a nuclear Iran “unacceptable,” into executing a military strike against Iran’s known main weapons and uranium-enrichment facilities.

Donald Trump is steadfastly opposed to initiating new wars in the Middle East and an attack by U.S. forces on Iran is not a foreign-policy goal for him or his administration. The Israeli goal is to compel him by public, and private, pressure to order the American military into action against Iran

President Trump has said any number of times that he would find a nuclear Iran “unacceptable.” His most stalwart comments on the subject have been discounted by some Israeli officials

If the Israelis reach the firm conclusion that Trump will not, under any circumstances, launch a strike on Iran, then the countdown will begin for a unilateral Israeli attack.


The Great Majority of Jews Today Have No Historical or Ethnic Relationship to Palestine

by Issa Nakhleh  LL.B

The Jews of today are composed of the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi Jews. The Sephardi Jews are the Oriental Jews wo are descendants of the Jews who left Palestine during the Christian era and migrated to neighboring Arab countries., North Africa and Spain. Some of the Oriental Jews were also converts to Judaism, such as some Berbers of North Africa who were converted to Judaism. The Tunisian Jews, Albert Memmi, a Professor of Sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris, has expressed doubt as “to whether his own ancestors in the Saraha had any historic connection to Palestine. Perhaps, he suggested, they were just Berbers converted to Judaism, since according to his information, “most North African Jews are simply Berber nomads who have accepted Judaism.”

Arthur Koestler maintains that there were many Jewish converts outside of Palestine with no biblical family roots:

‘Witness to the proselytizing zeal of the Jews of earlier times are the black-skinned Falasha of Abyssinia, the Chinese Jews of Kai-Feng who look like Chinese, the Yemenite Jews with the dark olive complexion, the Jewish Berber tribes of the Sahara who look like Tauregs, and so on, down to our prime example, the Khazars.’

The Ashkenazi Jews who lived in Russian and Central Eastern Europe and later on migrated to Western and Southern Europe, are of Khazar origin and were converted to Judaism in the 9th century A.S. The Khazar Jews have no ethnic or historical connection with Palestine. The Ahakenazi Jews who migrated to Palestine during the British mandate and who committed the crime of genocide against the Palestinian people are descendants of the Khazars. The Jewish Encyclopedia refers to the Khazars and their conversion to Judaism:

“A people of Turkish origin whose life and history are interwoven with the very beginnings of the history of the Jews of Russia. The kingdom of the Khazars was firmly established in most of South Russia long before the foundation of the Russian monarchy by the Varangians(855)…Driven onward by the nomadic tribes of the steppes and by their own desire for plunder and revenge, they made frequent invasions into Armenia…

In the second half of the sixth century the Khazar move westward. They established themselves in the territory bounded by the Sea of Azov, the Don and the lower Volga, the Caspian Sea, and the northern Caucasus…In 679 the Khazars subjugated the Bulgars and extended their sway further west between the Don and the Dnieper, as far as the the head-waters of Donetsk….It was probably about that time that the Khaghan (Bulan) of the Khazars and his grandees, together with a large number of his heathen people, embraced the Jewish religion…

It was one of the successors of Bulan, named Obadiah, who regenerated the kingdom and strengthened the Jewish religion. He invited Jewish scholars to settle in his dominions, and founded synagogues and schools, The people were instructed in the Bible, Mishnah, and Talmud…

From the work Kitab al-Buldan written about the ninth century, it appears as if all the Khazars were Jews and that they had been converted to Judaism only a short time before that book was written….It may be assumed that in the ninth century many Khazar heathens became Jews, owing to the religious zeal of King Obadia,. “Such a conversion in great masses says Chwolson (Izvyestia o  Khazaraka, p 58), ” may have been the reason for the embassy of the Christians from the land of the Khazars to the Byzantine emperor Michael…

The Jewish population in the entire domain of the Khazars, in the period between the seenth and tenth centuries, must have been considerable…

The Russians invaded the trans-Caucasian country in 944…This seems to have been the beginning of the downfall of the Khazar kingdom…The Russian prince Sviatoslav made war upon the Khazars (c.974) the Russians conquered all the Khazarian territory east of the Sea of Azov. Only the Crimean territory of the Khazars remained in their possession until 1016, when they were dispossessed by a joint expedition of Russians and Byzanatines…Many were sent as prisoners of was to Kiev, where a Khazar community had long existed…Some went to Hungary, but the great mass of the people remained in their native country. Many members of the Khazrian royal family emigrated to Spain…

Professor Graetz describes the Khazar kingdom as follows:

“The heathen king of a barbarian people, living in the north,m together with all his court, adopted the Jewish religion…Their kings, who bore the title of Khakhan or Khaghan, had led these warlike sons of the steppe from victory to victory…

It is possible that the circumstances under which the Khazars embraced Judaism have been embellished by legend, but the fact itself is too definitely proved on all sides to allow any doubt as to its reality. Besides Bulan, the nobles of his kingdom, numbering nearly four thousand,m adopted the Jewish religion. Little by little it made its way among the people, so that most of the inhabitants of the towns of the H=Khazar kingdom were Jews…At first the Judaism of the Khazars must have been rather superficial, and could have had but a little influence on their mind and manners…

A successor of Bulan, who bore the Hebrew name of Obadiah, was the first to make serious efforts to further the Jewish religion. He invited Jewish sages to settle in his dominions, rewarded them royally, founded synagogues and schools, caused instruction to be given to himself and his people in the Bible and the Talmud, and introduced a divine service modeled on that of the ancient communities…After Obadiah came a along series of Jewish Khaghans, for according to a fundamental law of the state only Jewish rulers were permitted to ascent the throne…”

According to Dr. A.A. Poliak, Professor of Medieval Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, the descendants of the Khazars-“those who stayed where they were, those who emigrated to the United States and to other countries, and those who went ti Israel– constitute now the large majority of world Jewry.”

The physiological differences between the Ashkenazim, who are mainly of Turkic Khazar origin, the the Sephardim, who are mainly of Semitic Palestinian origin, has been confirmed by scientific evidence:

“By, and large, the Sephardim are dolichocephalic (long-headed), the Ashkenazim brachycephalic (broad-headed)…The statistics relating to other physical features also speak against racial unity…The hardest evidence to date come from classification by blood groups.”The thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler pps. 232-233

Thus both historical and physiological evidence negate any historical claims to being of Palestinian origin to the European Jews in Israel and to the majority of Jews in the world.







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