White House Protest Corps


Paying the Price for Objectivity Toward Palestinians, Helen Thomas: an Appreciation

Paying the Price for Objectivity Toward Palestinians

Helen Thomas: an Appreciation

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts06162010.html

The propagandists for the Israel Lobby, who occupy the Wall Street Journal editorial page while pretending to be journalists, are determined to remove Helen Thomas from the annals of journalism. In case you have already forgotten, a few days ago the distinguished career of Helen Thomas, the 89-year-old doyen of the White House Press Corps, was ended by the Israel Lobby, which made an issue about her opinion that immigrant Jews should leave Palestine and go back to their home countries.

The White House Correspondents’ Association fell in line with the demands of the Israel Lobby, and the cowardly president of the organization added the association’s disapprobation to that of the neoconservative cabal.

Having removed Helen Thomas from the journalism scene, the Israel Lobby is now  working with its agents on the Wall Street Journal editorial page to eliminate the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society of Professional Journalists.

A nonentity in the world of journalism, James Taranto, apparently is associated with the Wall Street Journal editorial page, although Wikipedia reports that he was incapable of graduating from journalism school at California State University, Northridge. On a Wall Street Journal web site, Taranto writes: “We’ve been calling Thomas ‘American journalism’s crazy old aunt in the attic’ for years,” and he asks who would now accept the Helen Thomas award after Ms. Thomas revealed she really was crazy by criticizing Israel.

I would for one.  Of course the Society of Professional Journalists would never give the award, assuming the distinguished award survives the assault of the Israel Lobby’s assassins, to a critic of Israel. Helen excepted, American journalists are cowards. With the concentrated ownership of the corporate media today, no independently-minded journalist can have a career in print or TV media. You defend the Washington/Tel Aviv line, or you are out of work.

The absence of independently-minded journalists on the Wall Street Journal editorial page is an extraordinary change from my days as Associate Editor of that page. The editorial page editor, Robert Bartley was ambitious and forced himself to tolerate talented colleagues. Mere opinion was not our task. Often we scooped the reporters on the news side of the paper. Our editorials reported new developments and provided factual analysis.

I was hired as Jude Wanniski’s replacement. Jude, Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, was fired, allegedly because the journal’s brass caught him handing out election campaign literature on a train platform, but if you believe American journalism was ever that pure, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

Jude was fired, because the neoconservatives got rid of him by telling Bartley that Wanniski was over-shadowing him. That was too much for Bob’s ego.  Jude, of course, being a real journalist, was objective toward the Palestinians and thus had earned the enmity of the Israel Lobby.

Once Bob was rapidly declining with prostate cancer, neoconservatives engineered the takeover of the editorial page. Today the once proud Wall Street Journal editorial page is a leading apologist for Israeli/American war crimes and police states.

To return to the nonentity, James Taranto, who wants to throw Helen Thomas down the memory hole:  Helen Thomas’ opinion that Israelis should stop stealing the villages, homes, and lands of Palestinians, while confining Palestinians to the equivalent of the Warsaw Ghetto, is equated by Taranto to the advocacy of “ethnic cleansing” by Helen.

Of course, it is the Israelis who are doing the ethnic cleansing. Many Jews have documented Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, such as Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli terrorist organization, Irgun, Ilan Pappe, Israel’s most distinguished historian and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, and the Israeli peace group, ICHAD, who have been my house guests. The Israeli newspaper, Haaratz, is far more critical of Israeli policy than Helen Thomas, and so is MIT professor Noam Chomsky, the distinguished British journalist and film maker John Pilger, and the distinguished scholar, Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors.

But  Taranto prefers an 89-year old adversary.

Israel is an unnatural state. It was created by terror that was accommodated by craven British and US “diplomacy.”  Israel exists for one reason only: the US government provides the money, weapons, and diplomatic protection. Any other government that murdered thousands of civilians in other countries, as Israel does routinely in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank, would have its entire government and military on trial before the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague. Israelis have no worst enemy than their own government.

Every time the rest of the world tries to hold the Israeli government accountable for its crimes, the US vetoes the UN resolution. America has become the enabler of the Zionist-hijacked Israeli government.  And the Israeli government knows it. Israeli government leaders have publicly bragged for decades about their control over the US government.  US Admiral Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after whom the F-14 “Tomcat” jet fighter was named, declared publicly: “No American President can stand up to Israel.”  Apparently no American journalist can either.

I am a critic of Israel’s heartless policy toward the Palestinians, but I do not want Israel destroyed. I want it moved or reformed. Bring the small number of Israelis to America before there is a nuclear war over the fact that they are where they should not be. To try to claim a land and dispossess its people on the basis of a spurious two thousand year year old deed is an audacious act of conquest and dispossession.

My proposal to relocate Israelis in the US is rhetorical, but  why not insist that the Israelis, who are heavily dependent on US largess, reform? Why should Americans support an apartheid racist state that denies citizenship to the rightful inhabitants?  What kind of morality, if any, does the Wall Street Journal editorial page represent when it defends Israelis who force Palestinians into ever-shrinking ghettos, deprived of water, food, medical care and schools? Why must Palestinians live in dread of Israeli bulldozers arriving to flatten their homes in order to create space for Zionist “settlers.”

Allegedly, the US is a superpower, but in fact it is a puppet state of the Israeli government. Witness, for example (the examples are numerous), the fate of the Goldstone Report on Israeli war crimes committed in Israel’s assault on Gaza during December 2008-January 2009. Goldstone is a Zionist Jew and a distinguished judge. He was given the task by the United Nations to investigate the Israeli attack on Gaza. Being an honest person, he provided evidence of Israeli war crimes.

What was the result? The bought-and-paid-for US Congress voted, on the instructions of their master, the Israel Lobby, to deep-six the Goldstone Report by a vote of 344 to 36.

Amazing, isn’t it, there were only 36 US Representatives who were not owned by the Israel Lobby.

Of course, James Taranto serves the Israel Lobby. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, not even a shadow of its former self, when it speaks, speaks for Israel and for the Bush/Cheney militarist police state.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has fallen into the low ranks of Brownshirt propaganda. The fact that management tolerates the continuation of totally nonobjective journalism shows why print newspapers are failing everywhere.

The hubris of Taranto, a mere propagandist who will never come close to the league in which Helen Thomas resides, causes him to think that he is fit to pass judgment on a real journalist. Taranto epitomizes the hubris of the neoconservatives. Not a single one of them has the smallest accomplishment. Yet, blinded with arrogance, they remain in ignorant bliss of their status as prostitutes.

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com



Glenn Greenwald: The Absence of Debate over War
May 24, 2010, 3:15 pm
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Published on Monday, May 24, 2010 by Salon.com

The Absence of Debate over War

by Glenn Greenwald

The Washington Post‘s Fred Hiatt ponders how little attention our various wars received during the primary campaigns that were just held:  “You would hardly know, from following this year’s election campaign or the extensive coverage of last week’s primaries, that America is at war. . . . those wars, and the wisdom of committing to or withdrawing from them, have hardly been mentioned in the hard-fought campaigns of the spring.”  Hiatt is right in that observation, and it’s worth examining the reasons for this.

One significant cause of America’s indifference to the wars we are waging is that those wars have virtually no effect on the overwhelming majority of Americans, while they impose a huge cost on a tiny sliver of the population:  those who fight the wars and their families.  Hiatt acknowledges that fact:  “it’s yet another reminder of American society’s separation from its professional military.”  If anyone would know about that, it’s the endless-war-loving, nowhere-near-a-battlefield Fred Hiatt.

Everyone from the Founders to George Orwell thought (and hoped) that the massive societal costs which war imposes would be a deterrent to their being fought, but most Americans who express their “support” for these wars bear absolutely no cost whatsoever.  Worse, many who cheer for our wars enjoy that most intoxicating and distorting reward:  cost-free benefits, in the form of vicarious feelings of strength, purpose, nobility and the like, all from a safe distance.  It’s very difficult to generate attention for political issues that do not personally and tangibly affect most Americans — that’s why the failing economy receives so much attention and our various wars (and civil liberties erosions) do not.

Then there’s the lack of partisan division over these wars.  During the Bush presidency, war debates raged because those wars — especially the Iraq war — were a GOP liability and a Democratic Party asset.  Anger over the Iraq War drove the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006 and Obama’s election in 2008 (though it did not drive the end of the war).  But now, America’s wars are no longer Republican wars; they’re Democratic wars as well.  Both parties are thus vested in their defense, which guts any real debate or opposition.  Very few Republicans are going to speak ill of wars which their party started and continued for years, and very few Democrats are going to malign wars which their President is now prosecuting.

Here we find, once again, one of the most consequential aspects of the Obama presidency thus far:  the conversion of numerous Bush/Cheney policies from what they once were (controversial, divisive, right-wing policies) into what they have become (uncontroversial bipartisan consensus).  One sees this dynamic most clearly in the Terrorism/civil-liberties realm, but it is quite glaring in the realm of war as well.  Hiatt describes it this way:

[M]aybe, in a time of toxic partisanship, we should be grateful for this inattention to the wars, taking the absence of debate as a sign of rare bipartisan consensus. Certainly few would miss the vitriol of the Iraq debate of a few years back.

It’s not surprising that Hiatt is grateful for the disappearance of what he calls “the vitriol of the Iraq debate a few years back.”  As one of the media’s leading cheerleaders for the invasion and ongoing occupation, it’s understandable that he wants no longer to be reminded of the enormous amounts of innocent blood which he and his war-cheering comrades have on their permanently drenched hands.  But he is right that to take “the absence of debate” as a “sign of rare bipartisan consensus.”  It’s true that the (dubious) perception that the Iraq War will soon end has probably dampened the urgency of that issue in the eyes of many people, as have the pretty words that Obama utters when he speaks of war, but the real reason the “debates” have disappeared is because it serves neither party to engage them.

Perhaps the most significant factor of all in understanding this lack of debate is the fact that “war” is not some aberrational, temporary state of affairs for the country.  It’s the opposite.  Thanks to Fred Hiatt and his friends, war is basically the permanent American condition:  war is who we are and what we do as a nation.  We’re essentially a war fighting state.  We have been at “war”the entire last decade (as well as largley non-stop for the decades which preceded it), and continue now to be at “war” with no end in sight.  That’s true of our specific wars (in Afghanistan), and the way in which The War, more broadly, has been defined (i.e., against Islamic extremism/those who wish to harm Americans) makes it highly likely that it will never end in our lifetime.  The decree that we are “at war” has been repeated over and over for a full decade, drumbed into our heads from all directions without pause, sanctified as one of those Bipartisan Orthodoxies that nobody can dispute upon pain of having one’s Seriousness credentials immediately and irrevocably revoked.  With war this normalized, is it really surprising that nobody debates it any longer?  It’d be like debating the color of the sky.

That’s why I always find the War Excuse for anything the Government does so baffling and nonsensical.  Any objections one voices to what the Executive Branch does — indefinite detentions, presidential assassinations of citizens, extreme secrecy, etc. — will be met with the justification that such actions are permissible “during war,” as though “war” is some special, temporary, fleeting state of affairs which necessitates vesting powers in the government which would, during “normal” times, be impermissible.  But the contrast between “war and “normal times” is totally illusory.  For the United States, war is normalcy.  The “war” we’re fighting has been defined and designed to be virtually endless.  Political leaders from both parties have been explicit about that.  Here’s how Obama put it last May in his “civil liberties” speech:

Now this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. And unlike the Civil War or World War II, we can’t count on a surrender ceremony to bring this journey to an end. Right now, in distant training camps and in crowded cities, there are people plotting to take American lives. That will be the case a year from now, five years from now, and — in all probability — 10 years from now.

All the way back in September, 2001, George Bush said basically the same thing:  “Now, this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. . . . Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen.”  Thus:  to justify new and unaccountable powers based on the fact that we are “at war” is, in essence, to change the American political system permanently, because the “war,” and the accompanying powers that it justifies, are not going anywhere for many, many years to come.

With both political parties affirming over and over that we are going to be at “war” for years, indeed decades, it’s unsurprising that so few people are interested in debating “war.”  That’s true even for the limited question of Afghanistan, where most Republicans won’t question a war their President began and most Democrats won’t question a war their President has vigorously embraced as his own.  From the perspective of the permanent factions that rule Washington — from Wall Street and AIPAC to the intelligence and military “communities” — that’s the beauty of the two-party system:  as long as both party establishments support a particular policy, any meaningful debate over it comes to a grinding halt.

© 2010 Salon.com

Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book “How Would a Patriot Act?,” a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, “A Tragic Legacy“, examines the Bush legacy.



Al-Jazeera Interviews Israeli Lobby and its Opponents
March 28, 2010, 8:01 pm
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You will find some of your favorite DC activists on this clip! Especially around 14:20

Thanks JRP for the heads up!



What do you know about Gaza?
February 9, 2010, 8:42 am
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