Charges Ring True

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA and a frequent commentator on Middle East issues.


Former President Jimmy Carter has come under sustained attack for having dared to use the term “apartheid” to describe Israel’s policies in the West Bank. However, not one of Carter’s critics has offered a convincing argument to justify the vehemence of the outcry, much less to refute his central claim that Israel bestows rights on Jewish residents settling illegally on Palestinian land, while denying the same rights to the indigenous Palestinians. Little wonder, for they are attempting to defy reality itself.

Israel maintains two separate road networks in the West Bank: one for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers, and one for Palestinian natives. Is that not apartheid?

Palestinians are not allowed to drive their own cars in much of the West Bank; their public transportation is frequently interrupted or blocked altogether by a grid of Israeli army checkpoints — but Jewish settlers come and go freely in their own cars, without even pausing at the roadblocks that hold up the natives. Is that not apartheid?

A system of closures and curfews has strangled the Palestinian economy in the West Bank — but none of its provisions apply to the Jewish settlements there. Is that not apartheid?

Whole sectors of the West Bank, classified as “closed military areas” by the Israeli army, are off limits to Palestinians, including Palestinians who own land there — but foreigners to whom Israel’s Law of Return applies (that is, anyone Jewish, from anywhere in the world) can access them without hindrance. Is that not apartheid?

Persons of Palestinian origin are routinely barred from entering or residing in the West Bank — but Israeli and non-Israeli Jews can come and go, and even live on, occupied Palestinian territory. Is that not apartheid?

Israel maintains two sets of rules and regulations in the West Bank: one for Jews, one for non-Jews. The only thing wrong with using the word “apartheid” to describe such a repugnant system is that the South African version of institutionalized discrimination was never as elaborate as its Israeli counterpart — nor did it have such a vocal chorus of defenders among otherwise liberal Americans.

The glaring error in Carter’s book, however, is his insistence that the term “apartheid” does not apply to Israel itself, where, he says, Jewish and non-Jewish citizens are given the same treatment under the law. That is simply not true.

Israeli law affords differences in privileges for Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the state — in matters of access to land, family unification and acquisition of citizenship. Israel’s amended nationality law, for example, prevents Palestinian citizens of Israel who are married to Palestinians from the occupied territories from living together in Israel. A similar law, passed at the peak of apartheid in South Africa, was overturned by that country’s supreme court as a violation of the right to a family. Israel’s high court upheld its law just this year.

Israel loudly proclaims itself to be the state of the Jewish people, rather than the state of its actual citizens (one-fifth of whom are Palestinian Arabs). In fact, in registering citizens, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior assigns them a whole range of nationalities other than “Israeli.” In the official registry, the nationality line for a Jewish citizen of Israel reads “Jew.” For a Palestinian citizen, the same line reads “Arab.” When this glaring inequity was protested all the way to Israel’s high court, the justices upheld it: “There is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish people.” Obviously this leaves non-Jewish citizens of Israel in, at best, a somewhat ambiguous situation. Little wonder, then, that a solid majority of Israeli Jews regard their Arab fellow-citizens as what they call “a demographic threat,” which many — including the deputy prime minister — would like to see eliminated altogether. What is all this, if not racism?

Apartheid in the Holy Land

Excellent article by Bishop Desmond Tutu:

In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.

What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.

On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem. I could hear tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and homes?

I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what were their homes, now occupied by Jewish Israelis. I was walking with Canon Naim Ateek (the head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Centre) in Jerusalem. He pointed and said: “Our home was over there. We were driven out of our home; it is now occupied by Israeli Jews.”

My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?

Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won’t let ambulances reach the injured.

The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred.

Israel has three options: revert to the previous stalemated situation; exterminate all Palestinians; or – I hope – to strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by side with Israel, both with secure borders.

We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition. If our madness could end as it did, it must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land?

My brother Naim Ateek has said what we used to say: “I am not pro- this people or that. I am pro-justice, pro-freedom. I am anti- injustice, anti-oppression.”

But you know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticise it is to be immediately dubbed anti-semitic, as if the Palestinians were not semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group. And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the apartheid government on security measures?

People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.

Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: what is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment.

The Israel Lobby vs The Iraq Study Group Report

When will Americans wake up to the subversion and manipulation of their country by the Israel lobby? when they wake up to their own manipulation by their ruling elite which benefits from the arms trade.

The power of think tanks to shape public discussion and ultimately public policy was demonstrated before the Iraq war when public perceptions concerning Iraq were informed by a well-funded network of think tanks connected in many intimate ways to a pro-Israel political lobby that actively supported Bush’s Iraq policy.

The same actors are already marshaling against the report and the report’s subdued yet explicit linking of wider Middle East problems with Iraq:

“There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush’s June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.”

The report directly connects Israel to Iraq in a way that unsettles Israel’s supporters, stating,

“The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict…”

Because of this, we already see, among others, Israel and its foreign policy advocates in America piling on criticism. Some are starting to deconstruct the report as a defeatist document produced by a spineless liberal establishment.

The critics have something in common, a high regard for Israel and the notion that Israeli foreign policy objectives are always the same as US foreign policy objectives.

In the case of Iraq, this equation is patently false. The United States is suffering from Bush’s adventure in Iraq and Israel is benefiting from the chaos resulting from it.

This report deserves to be read and discussed rather than blithely dismissed. The critics may howl, yet none dare call it treason.”

Luguvoy and the Timeline Change

Although Lugovoy has insisted that the meeting with himself, Kovtun and Sokolenko and Litvinenko occurred after Litvinenko’s rendevous with Scaramella at Itsu, it seems the timeline is being fixed by the media despite Scotland Yard not having released an “official timeline.”

“Investigations in Britain have focused on the Pine Bar at London’s Millennium Hotel, where Litvinenko held a morning meeting over tea and gin with three fellow Russians on Nov. 1 — the day he fell ill.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper said police were testing a teacup and dishwasher at the hotel for signs of radiation.

Andrei Lugovoi, also an ex-Soviet agent, Kovtun and Vyacheslav Sokolenko, the head of a private Russian security firm, joined the meeting in the hotel;s intimate, blond oak-paneled bar.”

Regardless whether the Millenium Hotel meeting preceded Itsu or otherwise, according to the Times, Litvinenko *still* went straight to Berezovsky’s office after Itsu.

“The documents passed between Scaramella and Litvinenko at Itsu also appear to have been contaminated.

After the meal, the Russian hurried to Berezovsky’s nearby office where he appeared, according to a well-informed source, in an ‘œagitated’ state.
He showed the documents to Berezovsky, who skimmed through them and passed them to a colleague. Litvinenko then photocopied them. Tests later found traces of radiation on the photocopying machine.”,,2087-2484295_5,00.html

Why wasn’t Berezovsky contaminated? Everyone else who was associated with Litvinenko that day became contaminated including 7 staff at the Millenium Hotel, yet Berezovsky is apparently clean despite supposedly “skimming through” the contaminated documents.

Luguvoy has also worked for Berezovsky.

“Both men served in the KGB but did not know each other at the time. They met in 1996, by which time Mr Lugovoi was working as head of security for ORT, a television channel owned by the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Mr Litvinenko was also employed by the billionaire.”;jsessionid=KWBSCAZDEKIZRQFIQMGSFGGAVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2006/11/24/npoison224.xml

There’s been skulduggery in the past at ORT:

“Georgian tycoon, close associate of Boris Berezovskii. Cf. Klebnikov, Godfather of the Kremlin, 262: “Often Berezovskii acted in Chechnya through Badri Patarkatsishvili, the Logovaz partner who, according to the Russian security services, had long served as the company’s primary intermediary with organized crime groups.” Klebnikov reports (161, cf. 331) that Moscow police heard in early 1995 from a gangster that “he had been approached by Berezovsky’s aide, Badri, with a contract for Listyev’s assassination.” (In February 1995 Listyev, the director of Russia’s most important TV network ORT, was shot dead in his apartment building.)”

Did Luguvoy know too much? was he involved in the above assassination or does he have critical information about it?

Additionally, as evidenced in this 2005 article, Berezovsky has plenty of motive for discrediting Putin.

“Having an Israeli citizen at the highest levels of the Russian government is ideal, from Israel’s point of view. In Berezovsky they had such a man. The Jerusalem Post article mentioned above is revealing. It describes Berezovsky as “the Godfather of the Oligarchs’ and Kingmaker of Russia’s Politics'” and reports Berezovsky’s statement that “Putin’s Russia is dangerous for Israel.”



Was Litvinenko poisoned more than once? If the source of contamination was the document which Scaramella gave him, possibly not. Litvinenko would however have been poisoned each time he read/touched the document. Still don’t know whether Litvinenko was a smoker though.

“The battle to besmirch or lionise the memory of Mr Litvinenko came as Scotland Yard detectives were investigating whether the former KGB lieutenant-colonel was the victim of multiple attacks on 1 November -­ the day he fell ill. The Independent has learnt that toxicology tests have revealed two separate “spikes” of polonium-210 contamination, indicating that he was attacked twice.

Detectives believe that Mr Litvinenko could have been targeted at the Itsu sushi restaurant, where he met the Italian academic Mario Scaramella, and the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, where he met two Russian business contacts ­ Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun. Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun have also been contaminated with polonium-210 and are suffering from radiation sickness in a Moscow hospital.”

“Evidence that a PR counter-attack was under way came in lengthy tape recordings broadcast by Channel One of conversations between Mr Litvinenko and Boris Berezovsky, the exiled oligarch who was the former spy’s ally and financial sponsor. The recordings sought to suggest that Mr Litvinenko was inventing allegations that would help his patron in return for “a fee” . The programme, The Person and The Law, alleged that Mr Berezovsky had cut his monthly allowance to the former agent from $5,000 to $1,500 and he had money problems.”

“Mr Lugovoi, who had previously shied away from all publicity, went so far as to hold a televised press conference to issue his denial of any involvement in Mr Litvinenko’s murder and promptly took his family off to be tested for exposure to the radioactive isotope.

He said afterwards: “Traces were found even on my children and on my wife. To think that I would handle the stuff and put them at risk is simply ludicrous.””

“For the next three years, Mr Lugovoi became a vital part of Mr Berezovsky’s empire, recruiting to his security operation former KGB colleagues such as Vyacheslav Sokolenko, who was also among those who travelled to London.

When Mr Berezovsky suddenly fell out of favour and fled to Britain in 2000, Mr Lugovoi was caught in the backlash. In 2002, he was jailed for 14 months on charges related to unproven fraud allegations against his former employer.

The perception that Mr Lugovoi has “done time” for Mr Berezovsky has been highlighted as one reason why his involvement in the murder of Mr Litvinenko, a close ally of the oligarch, is unlikely.

But the Yard is understood to be looking closely at the theory that Mr Lugovoi, whether with his knowledge or not, was used as a cover by Mr Litvinenko’s assassins.

The two men met 13 times in London this year to discuss various business ventures and swap intelligence, including at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair on 1 November, the date when Mr Litvinenko fell ill.

The traces of polonium-210 found in Mr Lugovoi and at various locations such as Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, where Mr Lugovoi and his partner, Dmitry Kovtun, watched a match with CSKA Moscow on 1 November, could emanate from contact with Mr Litvinenko on that day.

But there is also evidence the polonium was in London for at least a week before 1 November and could have been brought into Britain by a member of Mr Lugovoi’s party on a previous trip. A British Airways flight and five rooms in a hotel, the Sheraton Park Lane, used by Mr Lugovoi and his party on 25 October have tested positive for polonium-210.

Mr Lugovoi has said: “Someone is trying to set me up.””

” By 1994, Berezovsky had moved beyond dependence on mobster protection. He had forged a more potent alliance by paying for the publication of Boris Yeltsin’s memoirs, thus gaining entree to the inner circle around the grateful author/president. This court was populated with strange figures, such as the “hippie journalist” Valentin Yumashev, through whom Berezovsky obtained his entree; Yeltsin’s tennis coach, who ran a large criminal empire of his own from a Kremlin office; not to mention Alexander Korzhakov, for a while the powerful chief of Yeltsin’s Praetorian guard who later reported that Berezovsky had asked him to kill a business rival. Korzhakov performed great services to history by his assiduous bugging of everyone’s phones, leaking the tapes when it seemed useful, and by his forthcoming reminiscences once he had fallen from his master’s graces.

Once inside “the family,” Berezovsky masterfully parlayed political connections into cash. Key to his modus operandi was the realization (shared by many of his peers in the rising business oligarchy) that it was not necessary to control a business, simply its cash flow. In a remarkably candid 1996 interview with Klebnikov he termed this approach the “privatization of profit” A fascinating chapter lays out in detail, complete with the transcripts of bugged phone Calls, how this method was successfully applied to the looting of Aeroflot, the formerly profitable state airline. Thanks in part to the appointment of Yeltsin’s son-in-law as the company’s head, Berezovsky was able to siphon off huge chunks of Aeroflot’s considerable hard currency earnings through a series of shell companies in Switzerland.

From aviation, Berezovsky moved on to the really big money in Russia–oil. His entry into the oil business was facilitated by the most egregious of all the great ripoffs that have charactarized post-Soviet Russia, the “loans for shares” scheme by which our hero and his fellow oligarchs helped themselves to priceless chunks of the country’s resources, for pennies on the dollar, in return for financing Yeltsin’s re-election in 1996. Following that free, but hardly fair, election, the godfathers increased his political profile, taking various high-level government posts (without of course ceasing his business operations for a second). It was at this time that his interest in Chechen matters re-emerged, in the form of lavish ransom payments to kidnappers in Chechnya for the retrieval of their victims. Klebnikov points out that this flow of money to the gangs in the devastated territory effectively made it impossible for the elected Chechen leader to stabilize his country. The consequent anarchy, culminating in the invasion of Dagestan in the summer of 1999 by fundamentalist Islamist Chechens, provided the backdrop for the second Chechen war and the rise to power of Vladimir Putin. Klebnikov suspends judgment as to whether any of the leadership in Moscow had a hand in the terrorist bombings in the capital that provided the final pretext for the invasion of Chechnya last year, although George Soros has been less demure, heavily hinting in an article in the New York Review of Books that Berezovsky deliberately fomented the war in furtherance of his political intrigues.”

“Last Sunday, The Observer carried an allegation by a Russian woman named Julia Svetlichnaya that Mr Litvinenko was a blackmailer. She went on television yesterday to repeat her claim that he had planned to blackmail an unnamed Russian oligarch.

Ms Svetlichnaya is believed to have been employed as communications manager for Russian Investors, a state-owned agency in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Her name was removed from the company website on Sunday.

Mr Zakayev hit back at the newspaper allegation and said: “I can unequivocally state that Alexander Litvinenko has never, under any circumstances, tried to blackmail anyone. Everything that he knew, all the information that he had, he published in the two books that he wrote, in the press or on the internet.” ”

Very suss and a possible black mark on Putin.

A new story just come out with some Russian commentary.

“Experts have said that as little as three millicuries (a microscopic dose) of polonium-210 is enough to kill, and the cost of producing such a dose is about one million dollars. Mr Litvinenko’s autopsy is said to have revealed that the dose he ingested would have cost closer to $40 million to produce.

Before his fateful meeting at the Pine Bar, Mr Litvinenko also met with Italian security consultant Mario Scaramella for lunch at the Itsu sushi restaurant in Piccadilly. Mr Scaramella had arranged the meeting to warn Mr Litvinenko that his life was in danger, based on information he had received via email. Mr Scaramella later suffered a brief illness and was admitted to hospital, where he was found to have ingested “significant amounts” of polonium-210. His condition improved and he has been released. Meanwhile, no traces of the substance have been detected in either the Itsu restaurant’s staff or premises.

Vladimir Simonov, a political commentator for the Russian News and Information Agency Novosti has questioned the murder/assassination theory in the Litvinenko poisoning. He argues that $40 million is high for any professional hit, and that Mr Litvinenko posed no real threat to the Russian government. Moreover, polonium-210 leaves an easily detectable radioactive trail that leads back to operatives and the original source.

Mr Simonov believes Mr Litvinenko may have been smuggling polonium-210 because he “badly needed money”, “œmade a bit on the side by smuggling toxic isotopes”, and “wanted to earn from the transaction”. Mr Simonov also states that on the day of his poisoning, Mr Litvinenko visited Boris Berezovsky, an exiled Russian businessman and “key wheeler and dealer of the Yeltsin era
, and left traces of the radioactive isotope in Mr Berezovsky’s office.

Apart from accidental self-contamination, Mr Simonov further suggests that Mr Litvinenko may have been murdered by Mr Berezovsky because he ‘knew too much’ about fraud charges pending in Russia and ‘œposed a threat to the exiled oligarch’. He said a memorandum of cooperation between Russia’s Deputy Prosecutor General and Scotland Yard does not bode well for Mr Berezovsky, who may have figured that ‘a dead acquaintance is better than a living friend who talks too much’.

In an alternative scenario, Mr Simonov cites a recent television broadcast in Russia in which Mr Litvinenko was linked with ‘an underground London laboratory where a dirty nuclear bomb was being made for Chechen terrorists’. He also states that: (1) ‘One of Litvinenko´s close friends was Akhmed Zakayev, the former commander of Chechen fighters, whom Russian prosecutors want to see in Moscow in connection with cases of murder and torture in Chechnya’; and (2) ‘About two years ago, Berezovsky told the world that Chechen separatists had acquired a portable nuclear bomb and lacked only one minor detail. That “minor detail” could be polonium-210.'”

United Stupids vote no on arms treaty

Typical of the United Stupids. When will they ever learn?

The United States, which is the world’s biggest exporter of arms and accounts for more than 50 per cent of all arms exports, on Wednesday became the only country in the United Nations to vote against letting work begin on a new treaty to bolster arms embargoes and prevent human rights abuses by setting uniform worldwide standards for arms deals. The vote in the 192-nation UN General Assembly was 153-1, with the United States casting the sole “no” vote. Twenty-four other nations abstained, including major arms sellers Russia and China and emerging exporters India and Pakistan.

Wednesday’s vote in the UN General Assembly has been described as “historic” by TANSA. But it can only become historic in practical terms if the United States were to agree to sign the treaty, ratify it and agree to abide by its provisions. If the US does not do so, the world’s biggest arms exporter would remain outside the purview of the treaty – reducing it, in effect, to just another piece of paper.

So where do the weapons used to deny people their most basic human rights come from?

According to the 2003 edition of the Small Arms Survey, 1,134 companies in at least 98 countries are involved in some aspect of small arms production. At least 30 countries are regarded as significant producers, with the United States and Russia dominating the global market. Between them, these two countries account for more than 70 per cent of total worldwide production of civilian firearms.

As the survey points out, “The majority of countries involved in the small arms trade still fail to produce comprehensive data on their annual arms exports and imports. A significant proportion of the global trade in small arms is conducted in secrecy, reinforcing an environment in which corruption and black markets thrive.”

Mary Robinson said: “The lack of data on the arms trade makes it easy for many of the weapons traded legally to end up in the wrong hands.”

One can only conclude the United Stupids are protecting their major export item – weapons.