Richard Falk: Weakening and Discrediting the UN: The Mission of Israeli QGOs

April 17, 2015

 

Richard Falk,  GLOBAL JUSTICE IN THE 21ST CENTURY, April 17, 2015

 

[Prefatory Note: This post is the full text of my presentation at an excellent conference “The Israeli Lobby: Is it good for US? Is it Good for Israel?” National Press Club, Washington, D.C., April 10, 2015; the conference was sponsored and organized by the editorial leadership of the magazine Washington Report, which brings together some of the best writing on the Israel/Palestine struggle. I encourage readers of this blog to look at the full conference either at the YouTube website or the audio recording at http://www.israellobbyus.org Although there were many illuminating presentations during the day, and I would call particular attention to the memorable remarks of two highly informed Israelis, Gideon Levy and Miko Peled.]


There are no better texts for assessing the damage done to the role and reputation of the UN by the Israeli Lobby than to consider Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statements boasting about the U.S. success in protecting Israel from criticisms arising from its non-fulfillment of responsibilities under international law and as a member of the United Nations. It should be understood that the lobby does not act in a vacuum, and its leverage is greatly enhanced in global settings to the considerable extent that its priorities overlap with the strategic and economic interests of the United States in the Middle East.

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Religion and Morality – Can We Be Moral Without Believing in Supernatural?

April 16, 2015

 

Dr Reza Varjavand, Iranian.com,  July 21, 2013

While imperative, morality is a subjective matter that involves judgment about right and wrong. Like the concept of rationality, morality entails behaving in a certain way that is consistent with a specific objective that may be personal gratification or primarily religious conviction. Historically, religion has served as a source of morality. A religious morality system is designed to guide and control the conducts of the believers. The problem with religious morality scheme, however, is that it is derived from a supernatural deity and believed to be irrefutable, timeless, and no one can challenge its preeminence. Ergo, those who do not believe in supernatural power, like secular/atheists, will be ostracized by religion and labeled as depraved. As I argue below, such stereotyping is as unsubstantiated as claiming that students who attend religious colleges cheat less than those who attend secular universities.

Is immorality really an outgrowth of secularism/atheism? There are 7 billion people living in the world today, almost 14 percent of them do not believe in supernatural. Are they any less moral than religious people? The primary motive why religious enthusiasts try to link secularity /atheism to immorality and even social anarchy is to create fear or to prey on the gullibility of regular folks.  Frankly, the accusation that irreligiosity is the source of immorality in the society is nothing but wishful thinking for three reasons.

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Religious Fanaticism is a Huge Factor in Americans’ Support for Israel

April 16, 2015

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Featured photo - Religious Fanaticism is a Huge Factor in Americans’ Support for Israel

A new poll from Bloomberg Politics contains a finding that, if you really think about it, is quite remarkable:

Almost half of all Americans want to support Israel even if its interests diverge from the interests of their own country. Only a minority of Americans (47 percent) say that their country should pursue their own interests over supporting Israel’s when the two choices collide. It’s the ultimate violation of George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address warning that “nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded. … The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.”

It is inconceivable that a substantial portion of Americans would want to support any other foreign country even where doing so was contrary to U.S. interests. Only Israel commands anything near that level of devoted, self-sacrificing fervor on the part of Americans. So it’s certainly worth asking what accounts for this bizarre aspect of American public opinion.

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Hyping the Iranian ‘Threat’

April 13, 2015

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Consortium News, April 9, 2015

Iran hasn’t invaded another country for centuries and is helping the U.S. push back against the Islamic State in Iraq, but Israeli leaders and American neocons want to enlist the West in the Saudi cause of promoting Sunni Islam over Shiite Islam, while America’s interests suffer, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

By Paul R. Pillar

The idea of Iran as a regional marauder that is gobbling up other countries in the Middle East and against which pressure must therefore be unrelenting has become one of the favorite themes of those determined to kill the nuclear agreement with Tehran. As an argument for rejecting the nuclear deal, this approach has always suffered from major factual and logical flaws.

Given the casual and automatic manner in which references to Iran supposedly sowing mayhem all over the region are routinely worked into almost any discussion of policy toward Iran, it perhaps is too much to expect many people to stop and study the flaws. Perhaps we should just remind people who make those casual references that if Iran really were bent on causing all that mayhem, that is all the more reason to support an agreement to assure that the marauder does not get a nuclear weapon.

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NATO rearmament increases risk of war in Europe

April 11, 2015
By Johannes Stern , wsws, 11 April 2015

NATO’s rearmament in Eastern Europe is increasingly taking on the form of open war preparations against Russia, raising the danger of a nuclear war between the Western powers and Moscow.

On Friday, the Western military alliance completed the first test of its new super-rapid reaction force, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). As part of the “Noble Jump” manoeuvres, the chain of command from NATO Headquarters SHAPE in Belgium was tested via the NATO command in Naples, the German-Netherlands Corps in Münster, and the units in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the Czech Republic. There were troop movements in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

The exercise is part of the systematic military rearmament of NATO in Eastern Europe following the pro-Western coup in Ukraine and the subsequent military offensive by Kiev in the east of the country.

Western heads of state and government agreed to the establishment of the VJTF at the NATO summit in September last year in Wales. It belongs to the NATO Response Force (NRF), the NATO rapid reaction force, whose troop strength was doubled in early February to 30,000 soldiers. In an emergency, the 5,000-strong so-called “spearhead” of the NRF can be operational within 48 hours.

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Badri Raina: My God Problem

April 10, 2015
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My God Problem
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By , ZNet, April 4, 2015

These thoughts are occasioned by my most recent week-long embrace of the valley of Kashmir (March 22-28), among whose people I am, despite some five decades or more of living in metropolitan India. My visits and my engagement with Kashmir remain relentless, and my language, despite a half century of marriage outside the Kahmiri fold, still rolls from my tongue with accents of love and belonging, and I am owned there without the least subterfuge or qualification. My people are presciently brilliant of intellect and will question and research everything that may be questioned or researched barring one  thing—god  and religion therefrom.  There are of course those who do so, but away from public notice, it must be said. And presumably many others who keep their cogitations to themselves altogether as they conform to everyday  religious observance.  Let me quickly add that such questioning has now becoming a hazardous enterprise across the world’s religions, differing only in degrees of accommodation and consequence.

This was not so until some three decades  ago. During my years in the valley, and long after as well, it was common to hear Kashmiris of all hues spar about divinity, argue many dark corners, lovingly mock at God’s frailties, propagate godliness as human selflessness and a habit of non-doctrinal embrace of the other, to laud the rich treasures of sufi-rishi wisdom that transcended denominations, indeed that challenged denominations, to celebrate the lives of saints as emblems of  all-encompassing love, and not to hold the definition of  faith  down to personal habits that may have been proscribed in a sacred text.

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President Zeman Tells Washington That the Czech Republic Is Not an American Protectorate

April 9, 2015

European governments are regarded by Washington as vassals who behave according to Washington’s wishes.

Czech President Miloš Zeman (David Sedlecký/Wikimedia Commons)As readers know, I have emphasized for years that European governments are regarded by Washington as vassals who behave according to Washington’s wishes.  It has been 70 years—two or three generations—since former world powers, such as Great Britain and Germany had an independent foreign policy.

In addition to this ignobility, European governments are also vassals to the EU, so on the sovereignty front European countries are twice damned.  They simply have no sovereignty.

This is why it is so easy for Washington to spin a web of lies and drive its vassals into a “crisis” with Russia that does not serve the interests of Europeans.  Washington’s European puppets don’t count.  Only Washington counts.

Next month is Russia’s Victory Day celebration over Nazi Germany.  Washington has told its puppets not to attend, and many including German chancellor Merkel have complied with their overlord’s demand.  But not the President of the Czech Republic.

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Blaming Iran for Shi’ite Unrest Throughout the Middle East

April 8, 2015
by GARY LEUPP, Counterpunch, April 8, 2015

A few minutes exposure to U.S. cable news gives the viewer the impression that Iran is relentlessly carving out an empire in the Middle East. This is approximately as absurd as the proposition that Vladimir Putin is striving to recreate the empire of the tsars. Talking heads who never think to mention Israel’s wars of aggression since its inception (much less its nukes), or the pattern of NATO expansion (= U.S. imperial expansion) since the end of the Cold War, bristle with indignation at any reported shipment of Iranian arms to some Shiites (or anyone, really) somewhere, or any Russian effort to thwart the expansion of a hostile military alliance along their borders.

The fact is, Iraq has not invaded another country since the 1730s, when Nader Shah waged war on both the Ottoman and Mughal empires and established an ephemeral empire stretching from the Caucasus to the Indus Valley. In modern times Iran has been the victim of repeated attacks and encroachments on its sovereignty—by Britain, tsarist Russia, the Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Union just after the Second World War, and Iraq (with U.S. blessing and support) from September 1980 to August 1988. But it has not directly attacked any of its neighbors.

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What if US & UN Sanctioned Israel over its Nukes as they did Iran over Enrichment?

April 7, 2015

There is a lot of talk about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and the ways in which an Iranian bomb would provoke Saudi Arabia and others to acquire nuclear warheads of their own.

But for decades, the primary impetus to a nuclear arms race in the region has been Israel, which probably had an atom bomb by about 1970. It was helped behind the scenes by France and Britain– which actively proliferated nuclear weapons to Israel.

It was Israel’s bomb that, in part, impelled Iraq to go for broke. Iraq’s nuclear weapons program of the 1980s in turn convinced some in Iran that Iran needed at least a nuclear break-out capacity if two of its enemies were going to have bombs. Since Israel destroyed an Iraqi light water reactor, OSIRAK, in 1981 (which had been built by the French and could not easily have been used to produce fissile material), when Iran began its experiments in uranium enrichment, it kept them secret lest Tel Aviv send out F-14s.

Ideally, the whole Middle East should be an atomic bomb- free region. The area has enough horrible problems without a weapon of mass destruction. But the UN Security Council has treated Israel very differently from the way they treated Iran. For centuries, Europeans have been held to different standards and different rules than have peoples of the Global South. Israel as a “European” country was allowed to get a nuclear bomb, indeed was helped to do so, and no sanctions were ever applied to it. Iran was targeted for economic warfare just for having an enrichment program.

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Protests Growing in Okinawa Over U.S. Military Presence

April 5, 2015

Originally posted on Peace and Justice Post:

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2015-04-02-1427981046-1545287-12459281335_b996552afb_b.jpg

Photo by Ojo de Cineasta via Flickr

If you live in Hawaii, you probably have more exposure to things Okinawan than most Americans. According to the University of Hawaii Center for Okinawan Studies, an estimated 45,000-50,000 Hawaii residents, including Gov. David Ige, have Okinawan roots. Local festivals and community events provide the chance to experience the culture of this once independent kingdom formerly known as Ryukyu.

Before it was annexed by Japan in 1879, Ryukyu played a unique role between its powerful and almost equally distant neighbors, China and Japan.

Today Okinawa prefecture includes dozens of inhabited and many more smaller uninhabited islands, yet in total it occupies only about one-seventh the area of the Hawaiian Islands. Okinawa island (by far the largest), is about 20 percent smaller (466 sq. miles) than Kauai but has a population over 20 times…

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