U.S. Democrats and Pro-Israel Lobbies Slam Republican Senator’s Call to Halt Israel Aid

Tea Party representative Rand Paul tells CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he has a lot of respect for Israel but he doesn’t believe the U.S. should be funding the Mideast arms race during financial crisis

U.S. Democrats and pro-Israel lobbies slammed on Thursday comments made by newly elected Republican Senator and Tea Party representative Rand Paul who suggested that the United States should halt all foreign aid including its financial aid to Israel.

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday Paul said that “Reuters did a poll, and 71 percent of American people agree with me that when we’re short of money, where we can’t do the things we need to do in our country, we certainly shouldn’t be shipping the money overseas.”

When asked by Blitzer if he wanted to halt an annual $3 billion that go to Israel, Paul replied affirmatively, explaining that Egypt recieves almost the same amount .

“You have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides? I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Israel as a democratic nation, as, you know, a fountain of peace and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East. But at the same time, I don’t think funding both sides of the arm race, particularly when we have to borrow the money from China to send it to someone else. We just can’t do it anymore. The debt is all- consuming and it threatens our well-being as a country,” Paul said.

Pro-Israel Jewish lobby J Street issued a statement in response to Paul’s comments saying it was “alarmed” by his suggestion.

“Senator Paul’s proposal would undermine the decades-long bipartisan consensus on U.S. support for Israel. Any erosion of support should concern Israel’s friends on both sides of the political aisle, and we call in particular on leaders and donors in Senator Paul’s party to repudiate his comments and ensure that American leadership around the world is not threatened by this irresponsible proposal,” the statement issued by J Street read.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) President and CEO David Harris also condemned his statement saying that “Paul’s suggestion is negligent, shortsighted, and just plain wrong,” adding that “foreign aid in general, and aid to Israel in particular, is crucial to Israel’s security and its pursuit of peace. Senator Paul’s statement is yet another illustration of how the Republican Party continues to grow increasingly out of touch with the values of the vast majority of the American Jewish community.”

Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, called the initiative “shocking”.

“Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East and one of our most stalwart allies”, Lowey said. “A stable and secure Israel is in our national security interest and has been a staple of our foreign policy for more than sixty years. Using our budget deficit as a reason to abandon Israel is inexcusable. It is unclear to me whether Rand Paul speaks for the Tea Party, the Republican Party, or simply himself”.

Meanwhile, Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matthew Brooks issued a statement saying “we share Senator Paul’s commitment to restraining the growth of federal spending, but we reject his misguided proposal to end U.S. assistance to our ally, Israel.”

“Moreover, based on his comments in an interview with CNN, we are concerned that Senator Paul may not grasp the fundamentals of our alliance with Israel. In 2007, the U.S. and Israel signed a ten-year ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) to govern U.S. assistance going forward. A critical aim of the MoU was to preserve Israel’s qualitative military advantage. Accordingly, any concern that U.S. assistance might undermine Israel’s security is groundless,” Brooks said.

New Leaked Report About Iraq War Shows 15,000 More Civilian Deaths ~ That’s About Five 9/11’s ~ Good On Us!!

GUARDIAN UK

Iraq war logs: secret files show how US ignored torture

• Massive leak reveals serial detainee abuse
• 15,000 unknown civilian deaths in war
Full coverage of the Iraq war logs

A grim picture of the US and Britain’s legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.

Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.

The new logs detail how:

• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee’s apparent death.

As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: “The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound … The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him.” [Read more…]

Sarah Palin: “I Believe That the Jewish Settlements Should Be Allowed to Be Expanded Upon…” [ Even in the Palestinian Areas ]

THINK PROGRESS

In an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin separated herself from decades of U.S. policy — which has held that Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Territories are illegitimate and an impediment to peace — saying that she thinks “Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expand”:

WALTERS: The Obama administration does not want Israel to build any more settlements on what they consider Palestinian territory. What is your view on this?

PALIN: I disagree with the Obama administration on that. I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don’t think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand.

WALTERS: Even if it’s [in] Palestinian areas?

PALIN: I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expand.

Not only does Palin disagree with the Obama administration on that, she also disagrees with the Bush administration, whose 2002 “roadmap for peace” called for a settlement freeze. In fact, every U.S. administration since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began in 1967 has opposed Israel’s building of settlements, which are held to be illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention:

Article 49. The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

In addition to violating Israel’s obligations under international law, the settlements are a major source of anger and frustration for Palestinians, and one of the main drivers of extremism and violence among both Palestinians and Israelis. By further entrenching Israel within the Palestinian territories, the settlements also make a two-state solution — which both Presidents Bush and Obama have recognized as a central U.S. national security interest — far more difficult to achieve.

Palin’s wild views on Jewish settlements might help her steal some radical right-wing religious support from Mike Huckabee, but they have disastrous implications both for U.S. and Israeli security, as well as for Palestinian national and human rights.

Cynthia McKinney Jailed in Israel – Refuses To Sign Plea

By RHONDA COOK

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Saturday, July 04, 2009

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With Cynthia McKinney due to appear in an Israeli court Sunday, the mother of the former congresswoman decided to skip a weekend family reunion in Alabama just in case State Department officials need any documents to get her released from jail.

McKinney has been in custody since Tuesday when she and 20 others were swept up by the Israeli Navy while allegedly trying to sail through a navy blockade. The group says it was attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

The formidable one-time lawmaker and the rest of her group could have been released soon after they were taken into custody but they refused to sign a document admitting they violated Israel’s blockade. All will be held at least until Sunday, when they are to appear in court.

“I didn’t go [to the family reunion] because I didn’t know if they needed special papers for Cynthia, like a birth certificate,” Leola McKinney said Saturday. “I wanted to be in place.”

Leola McKinney said she had not spoken with her daughter since shortly after she was taken into custody on Tuesday. “I don’t even know where she is or who she’s with,” Leola McKinney said.

Cynthia McKinney and other members of the “Free Gaza Movement” left Cyprus Tuesday on the Greek-registered ship Arion.

Their ship was stopped when they tried to pass through the Israeli Navy’s security blockade at Ashdod. The group was taken into custody and their ship was seized. Israeli officials promised to deliver by ground all of the humanitarian supplies that were on the boat.

Family, friends and supporters say Cynthia McKinney believed she was in international waters and was free to pass.

“The Israelis hijacked us because we wanted to give crayons to the children of Gaza,” Cynthia McKinney said in a recorded statement delivered via telephone and posted on the internet site YouTube.

The office of the Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta said in a statement released Friday, “According to Israeli law Ms. McKinney and her fellow crew members were suggested to sign a form acknowledging their deportation… Since Ms. McKinney has refused to do so, she is expected to appear before an Israeli judge on Sunday, July 5, and afterwards be returned home as soon as possible.”

Leola McKinney said her daughter did not sign the document because it was in Hebrew. “She didn’t know what she was signing,” Leola McKinney said.

Civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery, head of the Atlanta-based Coalition for the People’s Agenda, said he and others have spoken by phone with the Consulate General of Israel.

“Whatever happened, there was no harm done,” Lowery said. “She was not carry munitions, but medicine. We hope Israel will show compassion and release her and let her go on to deliver the much-needed medicine to the Gaza Strip. … If she were carrying guns, that would be a different thing. [But] she was carrying humanitarian aid.”

Lowery said Israeli officials had assured him that Cynthia McKinney was “getting VIP treatment. I don’t know how you get VIP treatment in j-a-i-l.”

Israeli officials blame Cynthia McKinney and her group for the controversy, saying they were looking for confrontation to attract publicity. The officials note that Palestinian Authority and the rest of the international community had agreed to the off-shore blockade to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza.

Leola McKinney said the trip would have received no “publicity if they had been allowed to deliver supplies to Gaza. They [Israel] made an issue out of it by taking the boat and escorting them into Israel.”

Billy McKinney, Cynthia McKinney’s father and a former state legislator, said his daughter was only trying to show “the devastation in Gaza… Anybody who has a humanitarian spirit would not want to see those people live in those conditions.”

Leola McKinney said she spoke to her daughter when she was first taken into custody and she sounded OK.

“It’s just the stress of being there,” Leola McKinney said. “I’m anxious and concerned because, until she gets back on U.S. soil, I won’t be contented. I really don’t know what she’s going through over there.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

FREE GAZA:

We just spoke to the passengers. Everyone is OK, but the situation is still very tense. They continue to be surrounded by Israeli warships which are threatening to open fire. The Israeli Navy is actively jamming all navigation systems in violation of international maritime law, endangering the people on board.

Former U.S. Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, speaking from on board the SPIRIT, stated, “I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God’s name would Israel want to attack us and threaten our safety and welfare. I call on President Obama and the international community to intervene now to prevent this situation from escalating with potentially drastic results to the civilians on board.”

Since the boat’s navigation equipment is being jammed, it has turned westward in order to stay in international waters.The Captain and crew are working from the most ancient of navigation equipment…the compass to stay clear of Israeli waters.

Feeling the Hate In Jerusalem on Eve of Obama’s Cairo Address

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