Tag Archives: Counterpunch

The Egyptian intifada and what it may mean for Israel/Palestine

The Egyptian uprising against the Mubarak regime is historic and important in its own right.  But it may also lead to significant changes in the region that could be positive for the Palestinian cause.  Israel is worried about a reliable ally being toppled next door.

The Mubarak dictatorship is a core pillar of the U.S./Israeli order in the Middle East, an order that completely ignores the wishes and aspirations of people on the ground.  The U.S. and Israel are scared of the new order that is to come.

As As’ad Abu Khalil notes at his blog, “the Israeli strategy in the Middle East has been firmly set on the continuity of the Sadat-Mubarak dictatorship.”  Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt in 1979 removed a military threat to Israel and secured millions of U.S. dollars and military support for the Egyptian dictatorship.  The Mubarak regime got carte blanche for its repressive rule.

Currently, there is extensive cooperation between Egypt and Israel.  Cables obtained by WikiLeaks, and published by Counterpunch, reveal that the Israeli military coordinated bombing runs with the Egyptian military during the 2008-09 assault on Gaza and closed the Rafah border when told in advance that Israel’s ground invasion was to begin.  WikiLeaks’ documents shed further light on Egypt currently building a wall meant to choke off smuggling tunnels into the Gaza Strip.

The fall of the Mubarak regime, which is what the youth revolt currently sweeping Egypt is calling for, could mean a number of things related to the siege of Gaza, continued efforts to crush Hamas and the political situation Israel finds itself in.

All told, what happens in Egypt will not stay in Egypt.  It will have ripple effects across the Middle East, and especially in Israel/Palestine.

 

‘The Palestine Cables’: WikiLeaks exposes Egypt, PA cooperation with Israel during Gaza assault

This is the fifth installment of my column on WikiLeaks and Israel/Palestine at Mondoweiss.  You can read all the installments here.

The left-wing publication Counterpunch has obtained eleven U.S.-authored cables “accessed” from WikiLeaks that deal solely with “Operation Cast Lead,” the 2008-09 Israeli assault on Gaza.  Kathleen Christison, a former CIA analyst and co-author of Palestine in Pieces, has the scoop:

Though the cables often simply rehash Israeli press reporting, providing little new insight into Israel’s attack or the planning behind it, they show with pitiless clarity the U.S. government to be little more than a handmaiden and amanuensis of the Israeli military machine.

The State Department cables also reveal for the first time that while Israel waged a devastating assault on the Gaza Strip, eventually killing an estimated 1,400 Palestinians, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were actively working with Israel.  Previous cables from WikiLeaks revealed that Israel had “consulted” with Egypt and the PA prior to the beginning of “Cast Lead.”  The PA denied the allegations then.

A December 29, 2008 cable from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv reports (in bold on the Counterpunch page on the leaks):

At 16:00 on December 28, the IDF bombed the Phiadelphi corridor along the Gaza-Egypt border, destroying 39-40 smuggling tunnels. No Egyptian border guards were harmed. IDF contacts have repeatedly told DATT that the targeting of the tunnels was coordinated with Egypt, and that they had passed the coordinates of the attack points to the Egyptians to enable them to ensure the safety of their border forces.

A January 4, 2009 cable from Cairo notes:

As of 1500 hrs. local on January 4, Egyptian military contacts said Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing on January 4 after the Israelis gave advanced warning of their ground invasion and additional air strikes on the smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Rafah border

One December 30, 2008 cable from Jerusalem details the contacts made between the PA and Israel regarding protests against the assault in the West Bank:

PA commanders complained about IDF use of live ammunition, responsible for three Palestinian fatalities in December 27-28 protests. MG [Thiab Mustafa] Ali [the commander of the Palestinian security forces] said IDF commanders told them live ammunition is the last resort when dealing with Palestinian demonstrators, and IDF rules of engagement only authorize it when the lives of IDF soldiers or Israeli citizens are at immediate risk

Despite the “complaints,” the next section of the Dec. 30 cable notes that “both sides” agreed to “increase coordination”:

PA commanders said they told IDF officers that President Abbas and PM Fayyad both directed them to avoid situations that could develop into confrontations with the IDF. The security chiefs said Abbas and Fayyad passed a message to all Palestinian factions, at a PLO Executive Committee meeting on December 29, that only peaceful marches away from flashpoints would be permitted. PA commanders noted they have no control on over B/C areas such as Qalandiya and Nil’in, and would need IDF approval to move PA forces to those areas to prevent clashes between protesters and the IDF…

PA commanders said their IDF counterparts agreed to expedite coordination and movement requests and exchange information on possible disturbances, as both sides have an interest in preventing West Bank violence. They said both sides also agreed not to leak substantive discussions about the meeting to the press, given the sensitivity of security coordination in a time of Palestinian outrage over events in Gaza.

The new leak of what Al Jazeera is calling the “Palestine Papers” are likely to confirm the WikiLeaks revelations by publishing “details of the PA’s security cooperation with Israel” over the next few days.

Koch Brothers Also Funding Islamophobia

The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer made waves with her piece on the Koch brothers, which described how Charles and David Koch, the owners of the multi-billion dollar Koch Industries, were “giving money to ‘educate,’ fund, and organize Tea Party protesters” in an effort to “turn their private agenda into a mass movement.”

Now, more has emerged about the Koch brothers’ agenda, and it’s not just limited to advocating for “drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.”  An investigation by CounterPunch‘s Pam Martens has revealed that “a secretive libertarian nonprofit with ties to Charles Koch bankrolled what was widely perceived to be a fear mongering effort to throw the Presidential election to Senator John McCain in 2008.”

The “fear mongering effort” in question was the documentary “Obsession:  Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” which was distributed to millions of people in “swing states” around the country in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election through corporate newspapers.  The documentary has been condemned as anti-Muslim, and features interviews with notorious Islamophobes such as Steven Emerson, Daniel Pipes and Caroline Glick.

The CounterPunch investigation adds a whole new layer to the overlap between anti-Muslim activists and the Tea Party, which I wrote about yesterday.

Martens writes:

CounterPunch can now report what this race-baiting, fear-mongering campaign cost and where the money, at least nominally, came from.  The 28 million DVDs were produced at a cost of $15,676,181 by Artist Direct Media which does mass manufacturing of CDs and DVDs with volume discounts.  The big media buy for Sunday newspaper insertions ran up the tidy tab of $719,436 and was conducted by NSA Media, a unit of the global ad giant, Interpublic Group, parent of McCann-Erikson. That figure seems decidedly on the light side so there may be other funding sources involved that have not yet surfaced. (NSA Media is a powerful ad buyer, representing some of the biggest print buyers and consumer brands in the country, which might help explain why so few questions were asked by the largest newspapers about this unseemly project.) The full tab, and then some, was paid by the super secretive libertarian nonprofit, Donors Capital Fund.  In 2008, Clarion Fund became Donors Capital Fund’s largest grantee by a large margin, receiving $17,778,600.  That sum constituted 96 per cent of all funds received by Clarion in 2008 and 9 times its revenue in 2007.

Donor’s Capital Fund is a “supporting organization” to Donors Trust, a sister nonprofit.  Both promise the pursuit of taking over social welfare needs with private funds rather than government solutions; they want small government.  (With 43 million Americans now living below the poverty level, it’s fascinating to know that these folks earmarked $17 million not to hunger relief but to DVD packaging.  Let them eat plastic, perhaps.)

There are shades of Charles Koch all over Donors Capital and Donors Trust.  Two grantees receiving repeat and sizeable grants from Donors Capital are favorites of the Koch foundations: George Mason University Foundation and Institute for Humane Studies.  Another tie is Claire Kittle.  A project of Donor’s Trust is Talent Market.org, a headhunter for staffing nonprofits with the “right” people.  Ms. Kittle serves as Talent Market’s Executive Director and was the former Program Officer for Leadership and Talent Development at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.  Then there is Whitney Ball, President of both Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust.  Ms. Ball was one of the elite guests at the invitation-only secret Aspen bash thrown by Charles Koch in June of this year, as reported by ThinkProgress.org.  Also on the guest list for the Koch bash was Stephen Moore, a member of the Editorial Board at the Wall Street Journal.  Mr. Moore is a Director at Donors Capital Fund.  Rounding out the ties that bind is Lauren Vander Heyden, who serves as Client Services Coordinator at Donors Trust.  Ms. Vander Heyden previously worked as grants coordinator and policy analyst at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

Richard Silverstein has more over at his blog.