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12 Apr, 2009

New Age in the US: Weapons of Mass Deception Exposed

Originally Published: 12 April 2009

“Israel’s choke-hold in America loosens” was the headline of a column by Lebanese newspaper columnist Rami G. Khouri in the Daily Star on April 01, 2009. As this “choke-hold” has been the subject of numerous Soul-Searching columns over the years, it’s loosening marks the start of a new age of enlightenment in the United States.

Wrote Mr Khouri, “One of the important, even historic, changes taking place in the United States these days is the slow but steady erosion of the once absolute taboo to speak about the excessive influence of pro-Israeli groups in the United States. Pro-Israeli forces in politics and the mass media can still destroy a public career, especially for a politician, but the stranglehold on discussing this phenomenon is slowly loosening.”

Citing his participation in the second annual symposium on Gaza, jointly organized by two of the world’s best-known universities, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mr Khouri reported that a Congressman Brian Baird of Washington state, who had recently visited Gaza, delivered opening comments which were strongly critical of Israeli actions in Gaza and of the American position supporting Israel.

According to Mr Khouri, most of the speakers criticized Israel and supported Palestinian rights, pointing out the importance of the “resistance” of the Palestinians in Gaza who refused to be removed from history or from their land by the force of Israeli settler-colonialist violence.

He quoted Boston University Political Science Professor Irene Grendzier as noting that along with the problem of weapons of mass destruction, the “weapons of mass deception” had involved “the deliberate deception of the American people about realities on the ground in Israel and Palestine.”

This was one reason the US government and public could take a position of “overwhelming silence” on the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, and its continuing strangulation of that society.

“The deception is breaking down slowly, however” she said, because of the availability of alternative sources of news available to anyone who sought it out on the internet or non-American television services. This meant that “we are witnessing the public beheading of Israeli myths on events in Palestine.”

Mr Khouri quoted another speaker, University of California law professor George Bisharat, who thought that Obama’s de-emphasis of George W. Bush’s “global war on terror” and the desire to recover American credibility around the world might spur Washington to refocus on the rule of law as a guiding global principle for the conduct of all states – without making an exception for Israel.

He added: “While most of these positions are not new, it is a sign of change that such views can be expressed in a public symposium at two of the leading American universities. It means that Israel’s excessive actions against Palestinians can be discussed more openly, and rebuked if necessary. This is noteworthy but not decisive, though, until it touches on the conduct of Congress and the White House.

“The strict taboos that pro-Israeli zealots and political thugs imposed on the American public are slowly cracking, which can only be in the long-term best interest of the US, Israel and the entire Middle East.”

Mr Khouri’s column appeared one day after retired U.S. ambassador John Gunther Dean, a former US envoy to Thailand, was interviewed about his book, “Danger Zones: A Diplomat’s Fight for America’s Interests” in which he writes that over the years he not only came under pressure from pro-Israeli groups and officials in Washington but also was the target of an Israeli-inspired assassination attempt in 1980 in Lebanon, where he had opened links to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Conducted by a former New York Times correspondent Barbara Crossette, who was also based in Bangkok for many years, the interview with Mr Dean appeared in the U.S. publication The Nation and is easily tracked down via Google by typing in the headline, “US Envoy Writes of Israeli Threats.”

Mr Dean was ambassador in Lebanon in August 1980 when a convoy carrying him and his family was attacked near Beirut, reported Ms Crossette. “I was the target of an assassination attempt by terrorists using automatic rifles and antitank weapons that had been made in the United States and shipped to Israel,” Mr Dean writes in his book. “Weapons financed and given by the United States to Israel were used in an attempt to kill an American diplomat!”

“I know as surely as I know anything that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was somehow involved in the attack,” Mr Dean writes, describing how he had been under sharp criticism from Israeli politicians and media for his contacts with Palestinians.

According to Ms Crossette, Mr Dean’s memoir has been approved for publication by the State Department with only very minor changes. She reports: “Its underlying theme is that American diplomacy should be pursued in American interests, not those of another country, however friendly. A Jew whose family fled the Holocaust, Dean resented what he saw as an assumption, including by some in Congress, that he would promote Israel’s interests in his ambassadorial work.”

Yet another important indication of the loosening choke-hold came in a New York Times column by Roger Cohen on April 8, 2009 in which he blasted the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “his faithful stenographer Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic (for) spinning the latest iteration of Israel’s attempt to frame Iran as some Nazi-like incarnation of evil.”

Said Mr Cohen, This “messianic apocalyptic cult” in Tehran is, of course, the very same one with which Israel did business during the 1980’s, when its interest was in weakening Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. That business — including sales of weapons and technology — was an extension of Israeli policy toward Iran under the shah.

Noting that “Israel’s nuclear warheads, whose function is presumably deterrence of precisely powers like Iran, go unmentioned, of course,” Mr Cohen writes, “Netanyahu also makes the grotesque claim that the terrible loss of life in the Iran-Iraq war (started by Iraq) didn’t sear a terrible wound into the Iranian consciousness. It did just that, which is why Iran’s younger generation seeks reform but not upheaval; and why the country as a whole prizes stability over military adventure.”

He adds, “Israel, as it has for nearly two decades, is trying to lock in American support and avoid any disadvantageous change in the Middle Eastern balance of power, now overwhelmingly tilted in Jerusalem’s favor, by portraying Iran as a monstrous pariah state bent on imminent nuclear war.”

Warning against “Netanyahu’s intense-eyed attempt to suck America into a perpetuation of war-on-terror thinking,” Mr Cohen writes, “Israeli hegemony is proving a kind of slavery. Passage to the Promised Land involves rethinking the Middle East, starting in Iran.”

Finally, America awakens. India, take note.