Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Israel And The Temple Mount

On July 23, 2012, in a scathing attack against the Wagf (literally translated to endowment), the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) opinion piece’s opening paragraph stated: “This year, as Israel observes the traditional period of national mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple on Tisha b’Av (which starts at sundown on Saturday), it has again been revealed that the Islamic Wakf is carrying out unsupervised work at the Temple Mount, potentially causing irrevocable damage to Judaism’s holiest site[i]”. 
A December 2011 al-Akhbar article fully elaborates on the Israeli attacks against the Islamic Waqf (see link[ii]) for the purpose of land grab which includes homes, shops, and even Moslem cemeteries.    But there is another dimension to these attacks – a messianic aspect which is far more alarming than just stealing land from their rightful owners.   The inherent danger from the Israeli obsession over the Temple Mount was first elaborated in an article dated June 2010 called “Nukes And Temples” – highlights of which is as follows.
Evidently, American presidents wish to continue to guard Israel's nuclear "secret".   Today, the secrecy continues, as does the aid -- perhaps towards a messianic return - the building of the Third Temple.

In 2006, the Israeli government began work on an exact replica of the Hurva synagogue on its original site. The story of the Hurva has received little attention other than coinciding with Joe Biden's visit to Israel and that government's insistence on building more illegal settlements.  But Hurva is the beginning of the end.

As the United States protects Israel and pushes for more sanctions on Iran, thereby distracting the international community from the more pressing problem at hand, rabbis are being tailored for the special kind of garments they will be wearing in a "rebuilt temple". These rabbis believe that the return of Jews to Jerusalem are the obvious signs - "Less obvious are the more subtle realities that add up - the rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter, Jews steadily moving into the Old City, even the Temple Mount tunnel excavations. But alas, those big mosques are still situated on the Temple Mount. For now."[iii]

Attempts to fulfill the prophecy are not new.  In 1990, there was another attempt by the 'Temple Mount Faithful' to bring a cornerstone for a reconstructed Third Temple to the site.  In 1996, the opening of an archaeological tunnel adjacent to the Mount led to the first outbreak of widespread violence across the territories between Israelis and Palestinians since the signing of the Oslo accords.  In 2000, Ariel Sharon staged a provocative visit to the Temple Mount and said: "The Temple Mount is in our hands and will remain in our hands. It is the holiest site in Judaism and it is the right of every Jew to visit the Temple Mount,".

It took four years to complete the work on Hurva.  When presidential candidate, Barack Obama  promised AIPAC an undivided Jerusalem in 2008, the building of the Hurva synagogue was well on the way -- which signaled continued future attacks on the al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for construction of the Third Temple.  Past wars and future was waged against other countries based on unfounded accusations has distracted the international community from the reality of this construction and its implications - the messianic era.  As importantly,  Israel's stockpile of nuclear weapons - a nation more likely than any other to use their nuclear weapons based on their deep religious ideology.
Of particular concern is the Gush Emunim, a right-wing religious organization, or others, hijacking a nuclear device to ‘liberate’ the Temple Mount for the building of the Third Temple.  The completion of the Hurva synagogue has increased these chances.  On April 6, JTA reported that "Our Land of Israel" party had put posters on 200 city buses in Jerusalem showing an artist's rendition of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the al-Aqsa Mosque with the slogan, "May the Temple be built in our lifetime."

Equally disturbing, a 1997 article reviewing the Israeli Defense Force repeatedly stressed the possibilities of, and the need to guard against, a religious, right-wing military coup, especially as the proportion of religious in the military increases[iv]. The warming was not unfounded.  The once secular army now has combat units filling with those who believe Israel's wars are "God's wars".

This small nation with unimaginable influence in the Western world,  enabled by the United States continues to commit crimes against humanity,  instigates conflicts and unleashes terrorists in the region and beyond, while it distracts the global community with Iran and its non-existent nuclear program, presenting it as a threat while the zealots prepare  for the Messiah's Temple - unhindered.  Heaven must be hell.
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a Public Diplomacy Scholar, independent researcher and blogger with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups. 

[i] Haim Richman, “Op-Ed: Stop Islamic Wakf’s work on the Temple Mount”, JTA, July 23, 2012

[ii] Mya Guarnieri, “Destruction of Waqf: The Grave Offences of the Israeli State”; alakhbar, December 19, 2011

[iii] Tom MountainPreparing for the Third Temple Jewish AdvocateBoston:Aug 22, 2008.  Vol. 199,  Iss. 34,  p. 9 (1 pp.)

[iv] (Blanche, Ed, “Is the Myth Fading for the Israeli Army? — Part 1.” Jane’s Intelligence Review, 8, no. 12 (December 1996).    

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It Takes a Village, and Some…, The Recent Attacks Against Israelis

On July 18, 2012,  attack on an Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria took the lives of 5 Israeli nationals, a Bulgarian, and the mysterious suicide bomber.  It is reported that the suspect, a young Caucasian, had a fake Michigan driver’s license.  According to Israeli Haaretz, a top Bulgarian official warned that it would be a “mistake” to blame a specific country or organization for the attack.   However, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had other ideas.

Quick to point the finger at Iran, Mr. Netanyahu called it an “Iranian terror network spreading throughout the world”.  He added: "Exactly 18 years after the attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina, the Iranian terror continues to hurt innocent people."  Apparently, it takes a village and some to set Iran up.

These serious allegations with a potential for disaster, demand scrutiny on several levels.  The most fundamental question which needs to be addressed is who benefits from these attacks.  One must question the location – location, location, location.  And finally, analyze the empirical data.   

Who Benefits? 

In spite of Israel and its Washington lobbies pushing for a war against Iran,  of late,  prominent voices have adopted a less bellicose stance towards Iran and its nuclear program.  The possibility of any military action against Iran which would undoubtedly lead to a closure of the world’s most important oil chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz, has prompted politicians around the globe to opt for a diplomatic solution to end the impasse with Iran.   

Somewhat optimistically, Iran is investing its efforts in diplomacy.   While continuing to work towards a mutually acceptable solution with the P5+1, Iran is making extensive preparations for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit it will be hosting in Tehran in August.   Over the past three centuries, Iran has never initiated a war and it would seem unlikely that at this juncture Tehran would resort to terrorism and solicit condemnation and possibly war.   On the other hand, the targeting and killing of Israeli citizens by Iran would serve to support and justify Netanyahu’s call for military action against Iran. 

For Netanyahu,  domestic dissatisfaction aside, Israel’s policy of settlement expansion, a policy which government appointed jurists called legal, has brought international condemnation.   With the moderate Kadima party pulling out of government, leaving Netanyahu in charge of  hard-line coalition opposed to Middle East peace, Israel needs support from its allies more than ever.    Undoubtedly, Israel would have greater support as a victim instead of an aggressor.

Location, Location, Location

In addition to the Bulgaria attack, Mr. Netanyahu has blamed Iran for attacks in other countries, including the apparent  foiled attack in Cyprus and  the accusations leveled against Iran for plotting an attack in Kenya.   

Bulgaria - Bulgaria and Israel have very cordial relations.  In July 2011, an Israeli-Bulgarian declaration pledged wide range cooperation.  A year later, on July 8th,  Bulgaria’s former foreign minister Solomon Passy told The Times of Israel that Israel should aggressively seek to join NATO and the EU.   Passy said: “Israel is part of Western civilization and of the Euro-Atlantic political culture and that’s why Israel shouldn’t be shy to vocally say that it wants to become a member of NATO, the EU and OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe],”.    Ten days later, an attack against Israel took place in Bulgaria. 

ThailandThailand and Israel have had cordial relations with moderate and steady trade.  In January 2012, Thailand recognized Palestine as an independent state.  A month later, Israel blamed Iran for “terrorist attacks” in Bangkok.  Allegedly, one of the perpetrators had carried his “Iranian” passport on him to carry out the mission. 

India -  India and Israel have had very amicable relations.   On July 17, 2003, JINSA’s executive director delivered a speech in Washington to the USIndia Political Action Committee International Conference on Terrorism in India in which he put Israel, the United States, and India in the same boat – as the number one on the terrorist hit list (Bonney 2008).  In 2008, India launched Israel’s spy satellite into orbit.  In spite of its close ties to Israel, India has not stopped trade with Iran.  In fact, two days prior to the  Israeli embassy staff in India were targeted on February 13, 2012, India defended its oil trade with Iran.

GeorgiaIsrael’s relations with Georgia are unique.  It was widely reported in 2008 that Israel had the green light to attack Iran from Georgian territory.   Israel is thought to have played a prominent role in the Russian-Georgian conflict (see link for full details of the relationship.   In 2010, Georgia and Iran entered a new phase in their relationship and Nino Kalandadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister expressed that “ties will further deepen”.  As with India, Iran was blamed for the bomb attempts in Georgia.   

Given the nature of Israel’s relations with these countries, one cannot definitively conclude why these countries were picked by the perpetrators of these crimes.  Perhaps these Israeli allies are not safe for Israelis, or they are safe for false-flag operations.

Empirical Data

Mr. Netanyahu made a clear reference to 1994 saying: “Exactly 18 years after the attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina, the Iranian terror continues to hurt innocent people."   The 1994 bombing in Argentina was blamed squarely on Iran without any evidence while all other voices were silenced. Prominent voices such as Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles who suggested that [Argentine] government and military figures may have sought to embarrass the Menem government because of its decision to release the files” being investigated in the AMIA building at the time.  An important project being carried out at the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building was a review of previously secret government files that reportedly reveal how Nazis entered Argentina following World War II helped by Argentine officials. The review of the files had gone on for two years, but had not been completed at the time of the bombing.  “Speculation centered on the possibility that former Argentine government and military officials, fearful of exposure, were responsible for the bomb attack.”[i] 

This is but one of the many instances where allegations against Iran have been made without any proof.   However, there have been many instances where Israeli false flag operations have come to light.
Many reports as well as a detailed account (“Operation Cyanide”) reveals the Israeli plan to kill everyone on board the USS Liberty in 1967 and put the blame on Egypt.  The survivors prompted President Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to order the investigation to conclude the attack was a case of mistaken identity.
Israel has always had a knack for stealing passports and other IDs to carry out false flag operations.  According to The New Zealand Herald (September 21, 2004)[ii], Mossad agents tried to steal  New Zealand passports, causing friction between New Zealand and Israel.  It is not the first time this has come to light, according to the same source.  Mossad agents had stolen Canadian passports to assassinate a Jordanian leader.   These are not isolated cases.

In January 2012, it came to light that Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, while toting U.S. passports and posing as CIA officers, they recruited Jundallah operatives.   One month later, in February, NBC reported that according to US officials, Israel  armed and trained the terrorist MEK. 

While there is plenty of empirical data to support that Israelis are not shy about false flag operations, one would be hard pressed to accept that Israel would carry out a false flag operation and kill its own.  Not so.

The 1976 Operation Entebbe was a great tribute to Israeli courage and praise of Israeli commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who rescued Israeli citizens at Entebbe airport in Uganda.   But newly released British government documents reveal that the 1976 rescue of hostages, kidnapped on an Air France flight and held in Entebbe  was a false flag operation – the file claims that Israel itself was behind the hijacking.   

This “rescue operation” which became known as “operation Jonathan” in honor of the unit’s leader – Yonatan Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister’s brother.  Yonatan was killed in the false flag operation – as were four other Israelis.   

When it comes to Israel’s  political agenda, no sacrifice is too great.   A move against Iran will reverberate throughout the world.  It is important for political leaders around the globe to understand that it may take a village to implement a political agenda, but it is up to them to make sure that the agenda does not destroy the global village.    

[i] Jewish Center Bombed in Argentina. The Christian CenturyChicago:Jul 27, 1994.  Vol. 111,  Iss. 22,  p. 716 (2 pp.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Creative Extortion

The cash-strapped American empire has become creative at extortion.   Applying its customary double-standards and blame game, it has made death singularly profitable by legalizing extortion and demanding compensation for its military personnel killed while occupying other countries -- and placing the blame on a third party. 

For the umpteenth time, a U.S. court has passed judgment against Iran for the 1983 marine barracks bombing in Lebanon.  To date, a total of 8.8 billion dollars has been issued against Iran for the death of 241 American soldiers in Lebanon – over $36 million dollars per soldier.  These judgments are not without ramifications. 

The Blame Game  

According to official accounts, truck bombs blasted the building housing American “peace keepers”.  The reality is that there were no American  “pace keepers” in Beirut at the time of the blasts.   The clearly defined mission of the U.S. marines deployed on August 20 to supervise the evacuation of the PLO guerillas was accomplished by  the end of the first week of September.   The troops withdrew to ships in the Mediterranean Sea. No peacekeepers were harmed during this mission.

However, 19 days later, after the Israeli invasion and occupation of West Beirut, and the brutal Sabra – Sahtila massacres under the supervision of Ariel Sharon, a larger US force returned to Beirut – this was with a very different mission in mind.  Theirs was not only to secure the airport, but to help the new Gemayel regime ‘consolidate’ power[i].  

Ronald Regan had decided to launch a ‘second Cold War’ in the Middle East and in line with this strategy, the additional forces were showing a permanent US presence in the region.  In Lebanon, some 100 field grade US Army and Special Forces officers were training “the most highly motivated” Lebanese brigades, that is, those with strong Phalangist militia components[ii].   According to the ‘Britannica Concise Encyclopedia’, these were the same militias who under Sharon’s supervision massacred 800- several thousand women, children and elderly at Sabra and Sahtila.[iii]    ‘“Peace-keeping” had  taken on a new definition.

By September 1983, as part of this new mission,  U.S. warships were shelling Syrian and Druze militia positions outside Beirut, and Marine ground forces were trading artillery and sniper fire with Shi’a and Druze fighters[iv].    The October 23, 1983 truck bomb attacks were an inevitable consequence of U.S .actions. 

The Untied States courts have implicated and passed judgment against Iran for the bombings although Iran was not involved.  However, it is safe to surmise that the resistance looked to Iran for inspiration.   Iran had ejected America’s man in Tehran, the Shah, and with it America, with  a simple religious ideology – Islam.     Regrettably, America is demanding millions of dollars from Iran for inspiring resistance, thus making a mockery of law so as to enable extortion.    
Consequences of the Blame game
Distorting the law to extort money sets a dangerous precedent locally and internationally.   The Occupy Wall Street which soon became global, held a candle light vigil for Martin Luther King.    During the Occupy protests injuries occurred, including two police officers  in Zucotti Park, New York,  and three deaths were reported as a result of the Occupy Movment.  It would be preposterous if the United States government passed judgment against the late Martin Luther King’s estate for having been an inspiration to people living under tyranny and inequality.

In line with this thinking, it has even suggested that the “Arab Spring” was inspired by Gandhi.    It would be equally preposterous if Gandhi were to be held responsible for the untold number of casualties and extortion demanded of India. 

But clearly, when politics is involved, inspiration comes with a heavy price-tag.  Self-defeating as these sham judgments may be, they also offer a lesson for those who would heed them.

According to Army Times, victims’ relatives were paid $2,500 for each death.   It is cheap for Americans to kill innocent civilians when occupying a country.   Granted, when the killings cause a sensation, as with the solider that went on a killing spree in Afghanistan, the compensation is jacked up.  However, rebel fighters who look to the United States and her allies to topple their government would do well to bear in mind that from an American perspective,  their life is worthless while that of an American – well, priceless.   

[i] Lawson, Fred. MERIP, No128, The Deadly Connection; Reagan and the Middle East 9Nov. Dec. 1984) pp 27-34 and Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 11, No. 4, [Also Vol. 12, no. 1]. Special Issue: The War in Lebanon. (Summer - Autumn, 1982), pp. 214-221.
[ii] Lawson, Fred.
[iv] Lawson, Fred.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Strait History

George Santayana wisely said: “"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  Oblivious to history and its lessons, America and its Western allies are repeating their actions of the  1950’s -- that of imposing an oil embargo on Iran.   The American-led alliance has forgotten the past.   

Iran remembers.

When under the leadership of the nationalist Dr. Mossadegh, Iran opted to nationalize its oil industry,  the British Royal Navy blocked Iran’s oil exports to forcefully prevent if from nationalizing its oil.  In retaliation to Iran’s nationalistic ambitions, and to punish Iran for pursuing its national interests, the British instigated a worldwide boycott of Iranian oil.

In the 1950’s, Iran did not have the military might to retaliate to the oil embargo and the naval blockade was aimed at crushing the economy in order to bring about regime change.   The subsequent events is described in The New York Times[i] article  as a “lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid” when an oil-rich Third World nation “goes berserk with fanatical nationalism.”   Iran learnt that sovereignty and nationalism necessitate tactical/military strength and determination. 

Not heeding the aftermath of the 1950’s,  the American-led Western allies have once again imposed an oil embargo on Iran.  In retaliation,  Iran has drafted a bill to stop the flow of oil through its territorial waters – the Strait of Hormuz, to countries which have imposed sanctions against it.  This bill is not without merit and contrary to the previous oil embargo, it would appear that Tehran has the upper hand and the heavy cost associated with the embargo will not be borne by Iran alone.

Iran’s Legal Standing

The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that vessels can exercise the right of innocent passage, and coastal states should not impede their passage.  Although Iran has signed the Treaty, the Treaty was not ratified, as such, it has no legal standing.    However, even if one overlooks the non-binding signature, under UNCLOS framework of international law, a coastal state can block ships from entering its territorial waters if the passage of the ships harms “peace, good order or security” of said state, as the passage of such ships would no longer be deemed “innocent”[ii].

Even if Iran simply chooses to merely delay the passage of tankers by exercising its right to inspect every oil-tanker that passes through the Strait of Hormuz, these inspections and subsequent delays would maintain or contribute to higher oil prices.    While higher oil prices would benefit Iran and other oil-producing countries, they would further destabilize the European economy which is already in crisis.    

The  Military Option

Although American-led Western allies are flexing their muscles by sending battle ships to the Persian Gulf, Washington’s own war game exercise, The Millennium Challenge 2002 with a price tag of $250 million, underscored America’s inability to defeat Iran.  Oblivious to the lesson of its own making, by sending more warships to the Persian Gulf, the United States is inching towards a full scale conflict.   The inherent danger from the naval buildup is that unlike the Cuban Missile Crisis, the forces in the Persian Gulf are not confined to two leaders who would be able to communicate to stop a run-away situation.   Nor would the consequences of such a potential conflict be limited to the region.    
Given that 17 million barrels of oil a day, or 35% of the world’s seaborne oil exports go through the Strait of Hormuz, incidents in the Strait would be fatal for the world economy.    While only 1.1 millions barrels per day goes to the United States, a significant amount of this oil is destined for Europe.  Surely, one must ask why the United States demands that its “European allies” act contrary to their own national interest, pay a higher price for oil by boycotting Iranian oil and running the risk of Iran blocking the passage of other oil-tankers destined for them? 

Again, history has the straight answer.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, the United States  and not the oil-producing countries has used oil as a weapon.  Some examples include the pressure the United States put on Britain in the 1920s to share its oil concessions in the Middle East with U.S. companies.  Post World War II,  the United States violated the terms of the 1928 Red Line Agreement freezing the British and the French out of the Agreement.  

In 1956, the United States made it clear to Britain and France that no oil would be sent to Western Europe unless the two aforementioned countries agreed to a rapid withdrawal from Egypt.  The U.S.  was not opposed to the overthrow of Nasser, but as Eisenhower said: “Had they done it quickly, we would have accepted it"[iii].    

Demonstrably, although Europe is a major trade partner of the United States, the U.S. does not concern itself with Europe’s well being when it comes to executing its foreign policy.   This should come as no surprise, especially since the United States sacrifices its own national interest to promote the Israeli agenda and that of the military industrial complex.   But this does not explain why Europe would shoot itself in the foot at a time when its economical woes have passed the crisis point. 

It is possible that the leaders of Western European countries are beholden to special interest groups – the pro-Israel lobbies, as the United States is, or they believe Iran will not call their bluff by ratifying the bill passed by Majlis and their oil will be delivered unhindered; perhaps both.  Either way, they are committing financial suicide and their demise may well come before Iran’s resolve  is shaken.

[i]“THE IRANIAN ACCORD”, The New York  Times, Aug 6,1954, cited by S. Shalom
[ii] Martin Wahlisch, The Yale Journal of International Law, March 2012, citing UNCLOS, supra note 12, , art. 19, para1, and art. 25, para1.
[iii] Stephen Shalom; The Iran-Iraq War citing Kennett Love, Suez: the Twice-Fought War, New York: McGraw Hill, 1969, p. 651