6/20/2005

Anti-semitism vs. civil criticism

Staunch defenders of Israel have created an interesting defense strategy so that critics of the Israeli government cannot speak against it without being accused of "anti-semitism."

"Anti-semitism," by definition, means prejudice against Jews. This definition is very straightforward and clear. It does not say anything about the Israeli government, which, like the United States government, is a civil order. When I criticize the brutal actions of the Israeli government, my many Jewish friends know that I mean no harm or criticism or prejudice toward them. They know I support the Israeli peace and justice movement and that my many criticisms of Israel are directed toward the Sharon government and its regional policies. I am practicing civil criticism. Same as I do here in the USA.

The term "anti-semitism" is often used incorrectly as an umbrella term to cover civil criticisms of Israel. How convenient! When former CIA analyst Ray McGovern gave his testimony at the informal Downing Street Memo hearing, he spoke briefly about Israel and recalled how he once suggested to his CIA boss that Israel may have financed 9/11, after which his boss called him anti-semitic for making that suggestion. Washington Post hack Dana Milbank used this off-subject remark to try to discredit McGovern's otherwise credible statement regarding the subject of the hearing -- the Downing Street Memo.

McGovern was in no way demonstrating prejudice toward Jews. He was making a comment of civil criticism that other intellectuals have made about 9/11 conspiracy theories involving the Israeli government. McGovern's only mistake was that he spoke off-topic on a hot-button issue and gave the critics an opening for a personal attack -- and his best defense now will be the dictionary. The worst thing he can do is to cave in to his critics or back down from his statement.

Personally, until convincing new evidence comes to light -- perhaps through a new independent 9/11 commission -- I still think Osama bin Laden and Saudi Arabia were involved in the planning and financing of 9/11, but McGovern is entitled to his opinion and he may have had access to secret information not available to ordinary citizens. There are a number of theories regarding Israel, including McGovern's, that a Google search can lead you to, but I just do not see the documentary proof at this point. Israel is already a chief U.S. ally and a heavily armed state -- perhaps even with nuclear weapons -- that can quickly respond to any emerging nuclear, chemical, or biological threat from its Arab neighbors without outside assistance. We owe it to ourselves to keep fighting for an independent 9/11 investigation. The Bush commission may have been bipartisan, but it was not independent, and the results turned into a whitewash and a cover-up of the truth.

6/03/2005

From Downing Street to Deep Throat

The Downing Street memo has received scant coverage in the U.S. media since its May 1 release, yet the criminal implications for a sitting president make Watergate seem like a school-boy prank by comparison.

The Downing Street memo is the official minutes of an August 2002 meeting between British PM Tony Blair, members of British intelligence MI-6 and various members of the Bush administration. The memo reveals that the Bush administration fixed the facts to shape its Iraq policy before going to war and in so doing deceived Congress and the American people. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, nearly 1700 GIs have died, and thousands of brave, dutiful troops have been wounded or permanently maimed as a result of this horrific lie foisted upon the public by the Bush administration.

More than a month has passed since the memo has been released and few media outlets have mentioned it, let alone investigated it. Could it be that they are protecting the president?

Now, of course, we have Mark Felt, the notorious "Deep Throat," the person who confirmed the validity of information for Woodward and Bernstein after the Watergate break-ins (a small part of a much larger Counter Intelligence Program -- COINTELPRO -- against a number of progressive organizations, political parties and antiwar groups). Mark Felt was very much a part of COINTELPRO. He was convicted, and later pardoned by President Reagan, for illegal domestic spying on the antiwar Weather Underground. Also during the 1970s, Felt directed the violent FBI campaign against the American Indian Movement during the Wounded Knee standoff in 1975, after which Leonard Peltier was framed and imprisoned for the murder of two FBI agents even though the FBI has since admitted it does not know who actually killed the agents. (If anyone can provide more info. on Felt's relationship with AIM during this period, please email me or respond to this article.)

The media are portraying Felt as either a hero or a goat for his role as a whistleblower during the Watergate affair. Some commentators go so far as to say that Felt "brought Nixon down," when, if fact, it was Nixon's own criminal activities that brought him down, not Felt. There has been little mention of the illegal spying and wiretapping that the FBI was involved in during that period or what lessons we can learn today as the PATRIOT ACT takes over where COINTELPRO left off. If Felt is deserving of recognition -- and I believe he does deserve credit for speaking with the press, even if he just confirmed information as opposed to providing it -- maybe his recent "coming out" will spark more discussion of our constitutional rights and will inspire others in the Bush administration to grow a spine and speak truth to power. That should be some consolation for his family.