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As followers of this column know, I’ve been tracking the Neocon manipulations in Israeli-Syrian relations for some time, drawing largely on reports in the Israeli press and some scattered sources in the Israeli Government. It offers a fascinating exercise in demonstrating just how overweening the Bush Administration Neocons have been in this relationship, particularly through the personal management skills of Elliott Abrams – the key National Security Council points man responsible for relations with Israel. Israeli officials speaking off-the-record are frequently brimming with anger about the latest stupidity they were bullied into through one of Abrams’s profanity-laced phone calls. When the Olmert Government resolved to pursue dialogue with the Syrians – contrary to the express injunctions of the White House – their biggest concern was apparently planning for the retaliation that would certainly be forthcoming.
Today, The Guardian has a fascinating report on the manipulation of Israeli policies dealing with Gaza and the West Band by the same shadowy hand. It’s one of the more amazing pieces of Middle East reporting to run in the British quality press in some time, and it rests on a highly confidential report by Alvaro de Soto which the Guardian secured. They posted the report on their website here.
The highest ranking UN official in Israel has warned that American pressure has “pummelled into submission” the UN’s role as an impartial Middle East negotiator in a damning confidential report. The 53-page “End of Mission Report” by Alvaro de Soto, the UN’s Middle East envoy, obtained by the Guardian, presents a devastating account of failed diplomacy and condemns the sweeping boycott of the Palestinian government. It is dated May 5 this year, just before Mr de Soto stepped down.
The revelations from inside the UN come after another day of escalating violence in Gaza, when at least 26 Palestinians were killed after Hamas fighters launched a major assault. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the rival Fatah group, warned he was facing an attempted coup.
Mr de Soto condemns Israel for setting unachievable preconditions for talks and the Palestinians for their violence. Western-led peace negotiations have become largely irrelevant, he says.
The report itself is a simply amazing document, reflecting a relentless pattern of malevolent intervention designed to frustrate any hopes of peace, to stimulate violence and warfare. The actors are invariably deep in the hidden recesses of the Bush Administration.
I have had a few encounters with Alvaro de Soto. I’d just say this: in dealing with diplomats, I run into a lot of figures who have formality and polish but very little substance. De Soto is striking for his brilliance, analytical abilities and courage to speak what he sees, even when he knows it will ruffle feathers. This report is a good example of all those qualities.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Amount of laundry an average American family of four washes in a year (in tons):
A study of female Finnish twins found that relative preference for masculine faces is largely heritable.
It was reported that visits from Buddhist priests could be purchased through Amazon in Japan, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra began streaming performances through virtual-reality headsets.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”