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Do you support Israel?

Posted by Fredsvenn den juni 9, 2008

JERUSALEM – Norman Finkelstein, the controversial Jewish American academic, author, specialising in Jewish-related issues, especially the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and fierce critic of Israel, has been deported from the country and banned from the Jewish state for 10 years, it emerged yesterday. Finkelstein, the son of a Holocaust survivor who has accused Israel of using the genocidal Nazi campaign against Jews to justify its actions against the Palestinians, was detained by the Israeli security service, Shin Bet, when he landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on Friday. Shin Bet’s motto is «Magen VeLo Yera’e, Defender (Shield) who shall not be seen. It is one of three principal organizations of the Israeli Intelligence Community, alongside Aman (the military intelligence of the IDF) and Mossad (responsible for overseas intelligence work).

LONDON (AFP) – Former US president Jimmy Carter on Sunday described described Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as «one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth.» In a speech at a literary festival in Hay-on-Wye, in Wales, the 83-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner said: «There is no reason to treat these people this way,» referring to the blockade, in place since the Islamist Hamas movement seized Gaza in June 2007.

While president from 1977 to 1981, Carter was the architect of the landmark 1979 peace deal between Israel and Egypt, the first such treaty between the Jewish state and an Arab country. According to Carter, the failure of the European Union to support the Palestinian cause was «embarrassing.» He said European countries should be «encouraging the formation of a unity government,» including Hamas and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s rival Fatah movement. «They should be encouraging Hamas to have a ceasefire in Gaza alone, as a first step,» he told the invited guests. «They should be encouraging Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement in prisoner exchange and, as a second step, Israel should agree to a ceasefire in the West Bank, which is Palestinian territory.»

Carter was essential when it comes to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the making of al-Qaeda. The United States secretly began sending aid to anti-Soviet, Afghan Islamist factions on July 3, 1979. In December 1979 the USSR invaded Afghanistan, after the pro-Moscow Afghanistan government, put in power by a 1978 coup, was overthrown. At the time some believed the Soviets were attempting to expand their borders southward in order to gain a foothold in the region. The Soviet Union had long lacked a warm water port, and their movement south seemed to position them for further expansion toward Pakistan in the East, and Iran to the West. American politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, ignorant of U.S. involvement, feared the Soviets were positioning themselves for a takeover of Middle Eastern oil. Others believed that the Soviet Union was afraid Iran’s Islamic Revolution and Afghanistan’s Islamization would spread to the millions of Muslims in the USSR. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski revealed the Carter Administration’s involvement in starting the war in a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur. Brzezinski told Le Nouvel Observateur that the Soviet invasion gave America «the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.

After the invasion, Carter announced what became known as the Carter Doctrine: that the U.S. would not allow any other outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf. He terminated the Russian Wheat Deal, which was intended to establish trade with USSR and lessen Cold War tensions. The grain exports had been beneficial to people employed in agriculture, and the Carter embargo marked the beginning of hardship for American farmers. He also prohibited Americans from participating in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and reinstated registration for the draft for young males.

Carter and Brzezinski started a $40 billion covert program of training insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a part of the efforts to foil the Soviets’ apparent plans. On the surface as well, Carter’s diplomatic policies towards Pakistan in particular changed drastically. The administration had cut off financial aid to the country in early 1979 when religious fundamentalists, encouraged by the prevailing Islamist military dictatorship over Pakistan, burnt down a US Embassy based there. The international stake in Pakistan, however, had greatly increased with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The then-President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, was offered 400 million dollars to subsidize the anti-communist Mujahideen in Afghanistan by Carter. General Zia declined the offer as insufficient, famously declaring it to be «peanuts»; and the U.S. was forced to step up aid to Pakistan.

Reagan would later expand this program greatly to combat Cold War concerns presented by Russia at the time. In retrospect, this contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Critics of this policy blame Carter and Reagan for the resulting instability of post-Soviet Afghan governments, which led to the rise of Islamic theocracy in the region, and also created many of the current problems with Islamic fundamentalism.

Carter has also in recent years become a frequent critic of Israel’s policies in Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza. Carter has been particularly critical of the George W. Bush administration. Carter later said that his comments calling administration’s foreign policy «the worst in history» had been “careless or misinterpreted.”

In April 2008, the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported that Carter will meet with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on his visit to Syria. The Carter Center did not confirm nor deny the story. The US State Department considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Within this Mid-East trip, Carter also broke with US policy by laying a wreath on the grave of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah on April 14, 2008. Carter very politely denied on April 23, 2008 that Condoleezza Rice or anyone else in her secretary of state-department had warned him against meeting with Hamas leaders during his April 13, 2008 trip to the Middle East. In May 2008, while arguing that the United States should directly talk to Iran, Carter stated that Israel has 150 nuclear weapons in its arsenal.

In his book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, published in November 2006, Carter states that «Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.» While he recognizes that Arab citizens in Israel proper have equal rights, he declares that Israel’s current policies in the Palestinian territories constitute «a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land, but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights.» While some have praised Carter for speaking frankly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, others have accused him of anti-Israeli bias and of making significant factual errors, omissions and misstatements in the book. Angered by Carter’s book, Israel refused to provide Carter protection during an April 2008 visit.

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