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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September-October 2008, page 74

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AIPAC Working Overtime

Thanks to Judge T.S. Ellis, who has repeatedly agreed to delay the trial of two lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee charged with spying for Israel (see p. 14), AIPAC has been able to promote several pet projects this election year (see p. 19). Among the most egregious legislation it’s worked to push through Congress are House Resolution 362 and its sister Senate Resolution 580, which call for the president to stop all shipments of oil from reaching Iran and which also demand “stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains and cargo entering or departing Iran” unless Tehran abandons its nuclear program. This would require a naval blockade of Iran—an act of war. When the entire Gulf region is a war zone and oil is $10 a gallon, will pundits once again deny that...

This War Was for Israel.

Also thanks to AIPAC’s efforts, our tax dollars are providing an extra $30 billion in military aid to Israel over the next 10 years (not including loan guarantees). While failing to pass a budget for this country, American legislators made sure Israel didn’t have to wait for its money, by slipping the extra loot into an amendment to legislation funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Otherwise Israel’s extra $170 million in military aid would have been hung up in a “continuous resolution”—and a foreign country deserves better than that, doesn’t it?

Shooting Back Documents Crimes.

As part of a project called “Shooting Back,” B’Tselem distributed 100 video cameras to Palestinians in the West Bank. On July 7 a 14-year-old Palestinian girl filmed an IDF soldier shooting a rubber-coated steel bullet at close range at a bound Palestinian youth who had been detained for an hour following a demonstration that day in the West Bank village of Na’alin. Thanks to “Shooting Back,” the whole world witnessed the atrocity.

Scathing Report Long Overdue.

Following the Annapolis summit, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked retired Gen. James Jones, who last year wrote a highly critical report on Iraqi security forces, to evaluate the situation in the occupied territories. Jones, the U.S. security coordinator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has written a devastating critique of Israel’s policies in the territories and its attitude toward the Palestinian Authority’s security services in the West Bank. The Bush administration is debating whether to publish the harsh report or just release a summary. Of course, Americans interested in how their tax dollars are spent in the Middle East would not learn of the report’s existence from their own country’s mainstream media. Why are we not surprised that the account appeared in the Israeli daily Haaretz?

State Department Briefing on Gaza Correspondent Omer

Nearly 5,000 people signed our petition addressed to Secretary of State Rice condemning the assault on Mohammed Omer at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan, and demanding U.S. intervention to end Israel’s harassment of travelers and journalists. On Aug. 1 we delivered the petition to the State Department and had a good meeting with Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) Deputy Assistant Secretary Gene Cretz and Democracy, Rights and Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary Erica Barks-Ruggles, who said they’d followed Omer’s case closely. They described Israel’s treatment of our award-winning 24-year-old correspondent as “particularly brutal” and “way off the charts.” Since Mohammed was traveling under the care of Dutch diplomats at the time, it was agreed that the Dutch should take the lead in helping him leave Gaza and receive additional medical treatment in the Netherlands. We’ll keep readers posted on developments via our action alerts, so be sure to join our list by signing up at our home page, <>.

Who Knew? AP Reports Skewed.

Alison Weir, executive director of If Americans Knew, kept after the Associated Press to cover the assault on Omer, as well as Israel’s routine use of humiliating strip searching and torture at its border crossings. AP, a cooperative news service used by newspapers, radio and TV stations around the world, produced one very biased, inaccurate story. Because this service has replaced many international news desks, Weir is continuing to demand fair reporting about the Middle East from AP. For more information visit <>.

Incredible Shrinking News.

According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, nearly two-thirds of newspapers surveyed have cut back on space for foreign news—at a time when America is fighting two wars and threatening to embark on another. Nearly half say they are devoting fewer resources to international news, and many have closed their overseas bureaus. They’ve cut down on national news as well, due to declining ad revenue and rising paper, mailing and transportation costs.

SS Free Gaza, Liberty Set Sail

As this issue goes to press, human rights observers, aid workers and journalists who make up the Free Gaza Movement are sailing from Cyprus to break the siege in Gaza. Forty passengers (including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s sister-in-law) from 16 countries are transporting badly needed medicine, hearing aids and other humanitarian supplies on sailing ships named Free Gaza and Liberty, the latter in honor of the 34 Americans killed aboard the USS Liberty when Israel attacked the U.S. ship during the 1967 Six-Day War. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the American media won’t sink this story and that Israel won’t try to sink these ships.

Gaza Scholars Championed, Then Shunned

After Secretary of State Rice had intervened personally with Israel to allow Fulbright scholars from Gaza to leave and study in the U.S., the State Department revoked visas for three of the Fulbrighters and another student from Gaza after Israel gave it unspecified “additional information” (otherwise known as secret evidence, which can be neither refuted nor denied). One of the four students had already arrived at Washington, DC’s Dulles Airport when his visa was canceled. Israeli officials, who had insisted all along that the three posed a risk, expressed satisfaction that Washington, once again, had caved. Whatever happened, we wonder, to the land of the free and...

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