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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 — 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.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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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.'”