Monday, January 19, 2009

Smoke, Mirrors and the Fog of Endless War, by Syd Walker

I'm not familiar with Syd Walker's writing, but I found this to be a relevant contribution to the process I go through when I'm deciding what to repost as "a fact." Since my first years of ACL research focused mainly on government agency documents obtained under the FOIA and WA ST PDA, I didn't have any "sources" to substantiate my stories other than my local government officials (many of whom I interviewed in person and over the phone). As I expanded my research to internet websites, I primarily used government sites to get all my additional information about the Seattle programs, like COPS and COMPASS and Agenda 21. I was estatic to find Thomas Guide and congressional records. I loved it that the Dept of Justice, like the Strategic Planning Office in Seattle, has such thorough web developers.

In 1999, when the 38 neighborhood plans were passed into law, LA21 programs were just beginning to become available online at the website. Today almost every inch of America has a plan, and most of them are online. However, while sometimes they post their meeting notes, their inter office emails and memos are not online; they have a lot more detail about their actions, aren't normally posted, and must be requested under public disclosure laws. Many of the sub-comittees who planned 4th Amendment tests in Seattle still don't show up anywhere on the gov sites.

It was later, maybe late 2000, when I went looking for more history. I began writing a historical timeline to explain communitarian balancing to the Dawson lawyers in 2001. After that huge project started (the chart ended up being 4x12 feet!), my internet searches took me to a far wider variety of sources, and I must say that it's been an incredible journey just scouring the internet for information about things I know nothing about. But, and this hasn't changed, I always felt like I was being sucked into a hole whenever I had to read up on some religion, secret organization or philosophy that Etzioni uses as a foundation for changing the U.S.

The biggest challenge of my portion of ACL work has been to remember our focus is on current communitarian policy and law. It's very easy to get sidetracked by all the other interesting possibilities and theories. There are several complex, real religions and philosophies that make up the communitarian foundation, many of which have become very important to me as a researcher. These pieces must be understood in order to fully grasp the communitarian agenda. And I also want to know a lot more about the American economic system that existed outside the empire for a very short moment in time. I want to TRY national political economy just once in my lifetime, with all my friends and neighbors inspired to be in the real game with me. I don't think it will be that hard for our people to give up 20 pairs of cheap China made shoes for one good American made pair, especially when foreign goods come under a high import tariff that makes them more expensive than homemade American brands. I do want to see America thrive. But that's not the only reason why I do this. I've studied the way Obama's going to change America, and it is with communitarian policy and law. From UN National Premises ID to federal environmental test requirements on all new and used children's items, our country is walking into the global gulag without a clue what the new rules are. What does that do to our odds for survival?

I still get a lot of emails linking to all kinds of allegations, with quotes coming from places like Sasha, the Russian reporter, and Mathew, the channelled entity. Those are not sources I chose to use at the ACL, but I'm certain other sources I thought were "good" have the possibility of being not so reliable after all.

From Peter Myers' elist:
(1) 'Gotcha' - Sharon quotation / misleading video story

From: Syd Walker Date: 18.01.2009 10:19 PM

Here's a follow-up on the Sharon quotation / misleading video story

Smoke, Mirrors and the Fog of Endless War

By Syd Walker on Sunday, January 18th 2009

A couple of days ago I wrote an article called Humiliating the USA an Israeli Hobby. As the title suggests, it was about the bizarre, inverted power relations between the mighty USA and the tiny State of Israel.

The article hinged on a recent boast by Prime Minister Olmert that he ordered the US President to abstain on Resolution 1860 in the UN Security Council.

I presume that report was accurate. The source was AFP. Major news agencies such as AFP are typically considered 'reliable' sources. Even so, we can never assume that any source is 100% reliable. Journalists can make mistakes. Their sources can be mistaken, or lie deliberately.

In the article, I made a brief reference to an older instance of the same type of bragging by an Israeli PM. Back in late 2001, Ariel Sharon was quoted as saying: "don't worry about American pressure, we the Jewish people control America" in a conversation with then cabinet member Shimon Peres.

I reported this outrageous Sharon quotation story for two reasons: (1) I believed it was true, and (2) it was relevant to the story as a whole.

But is it really true? Two days ago, I thought so. Now I'm not so sure.

The main reason I'd believed the quotation to be accurate is because it was repeated on a number of websites that in other instances I've found to be useful and credible sources of information. In my article, I gave a link to Media Monitors. I could have chosen Mid-East Realities or the Washington Reports on Middle East Affairs. The latter, in particular, has a lot of invaluable material, especially of a historical nature.

I recall reading years ago that the veracity of this quotation is contested - and probably checked out CAMERA's rebuttal at that time. But I hadn't found the denial particularly persuasive. CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) is, after all, 100% biased towards Israel. Its own reputation for integrity is very poor.

But now, pushed to look deeper into the origins of this story (prompted by the editor of the Beyond the Fringe website who has a refreshing appetite for accuracy), I've learnt more about the original report on which the other reports were based. The story seems to have come from only one source: the Islamic Association For Palestine (IAP). It's a source that's clearly biased to the Palestinian cause. That's not to say it was lying about the story - or in error. But I can't be sure.

CAMERA claims the Hebrew language radio channel Kol Yisrael - which IAP claimed ran the report of Sharon's remarks on air – denies that it ever happened. IAP itself is no longer operating; at least, it's website is down. Not surprising really. In 2006, the pro-Zionist website gloated:

Terrorism expert Steven Emerson characterized IAP as Hamas' "primary voice in the United States." The former chief of the FBI's counter-terrorism department, Oliver Revell, called IAP "a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants."

In December 2004, a federal judge in Chicago ruled that IAP (along with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, or HLF), was liable for a $156 million lawsuit for having aided and abetted Hamas in the West Bank killing of a 17-year-old American citizen named David Boim. IAP thereafter had its assets frozen by the U.S. government and was shut down on grounds that it was funding terrorism.

Hmmm. That's one way to knock out ideological enemies, I guess. Of course, if Palestinian minors were ever valued on a similar basis, the US national debt would double overnight.

All in all, I now feel it's not possible to use the Sharon quotation with confidence that's it's accurate. There are too many unknowns. At least, that's my current view. I reserve the right to change it again if new information becomes available.

This is not an unusual case. It's quite typical of the difficulties of working through conflicting narratives of the conflict over Palestine, trying to make sense out of apparent confusion.

I find the following distinctions are useful:

1. Information (accurate and truthful)

2. Misinformation (inaccurate, although promulgated with truthful intent)

3. Disinformation (inaccurate and promulgated with dishonest intent)

It's common to encounter all three of these in discussions about Palestine and Zionism. Working out which is which is too time consuming for most people, even if they had sufficient interest.

Of course, 'most people' believe (or hope) that they don't need to do their own analysis. They trust the mass media to do it for them. That's a big problem. The western mass media's longstanding Zionist bias is shocking.

Another recent case of pro-Palestinian misinformation – or possibly disinformation – was a video that flashed around the web in early January. I saw it first on another website and reposted in A Surgical Strike: The Palestinian View on January 2nd.

Almost immediately, a local Zionist posted a comment complaining that I was using fake material. This is what he wrote:

"What no acknowledgment Syd that this video has now been removed from all other credible sites on the web , including pro-palestinian, because it is a fraud which shows the explosion of Hamas rockets at an Hamas rally in 2005?Update: THIS VIDEO IS MISLEADINGI was deceived by the video I grabbed and uploaded from here.The video was not taken on January 1st 2009. It was not taken in a civilian market, and it was not the result of an IDF air strike.

This video is from September 23rd 2005, and was taken in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. A Hamas pick-up truck carrying Qassam rockets detonated by mistake during a Hamas rally, leaving at least 15 killed and dozens more injured.

In recent days there has been some debate about the video in question by wiser heads than mine. The consensus seems to be that the footage was indeed not from the current conflict in Gaza. Score One to the Zionists.

However, I was only concerned in my post to present an indication of the utter horror on the ground from a Palestinian perspective – to contrast it with an Israeli-style high-tech, sanitized and unemotional perspective on killing fellow human beings. It was fairly easy to find another, valid current video from the conflict as a replacement. That's what I did. I didn't post the annoying Zionist comment at the time. This is my blog and I am not here to do favours to Zionist apologists. They don't get a bad run for their anti-human views in the mass media. I intend to help to redress the imbalance.

Nevertheless, honesty matters. It matters a lot. In the end, honesty is crucial to those who want a healed world based on truth and reconciliation. Hence this article.

It's worth noting that, at the time this video was first posted, Israel was blocking all mass media's access to Gaza. Reports of the horror inside the crowded strip of land were necessarily scant and below professional standards. That's what un-embedded journalism from a real war zone is like.

As for Ariel Sharon and his notorious brag, who knows whether he said it or not? Even if it's possible to get an accurate transcript of the initial radio report (I doubt that), the story itself could have been based on a false or exaggerated report.

The comments allegedly made by Ariel Sharon were allegedly directed at Shimon Peres. Perhaps they're the only ones who know for sure what was said?

Sharon is not talking these days. President 'Sir' Peres can talk (and some!), but has a track record of lying on crucial issues that's at least half a century long. The 'facts' of that particular matter may never be clear.

There's something else to bear in mind. Even if Sharon's 'We control America' quotation is disinformation (that is, a deliberate lie), we can't necessarily conclude Palestinians are authors of the deceit. It's a possibility of course, but it's also possible that Zionists seed these false quotations, rather liker the Martin Luther King fake quotation that I reported on previously.

Why would they do that? Why might some of the Zionist strategists think it's a good idea to have quotations circulating widely on the web that make Sharon sound even more obnoxious than he actually was?

I can think of a few reasons. First, they will assume that most people will never see the quotes, which would be generally avoided by the mass media (even if accurate). Those who do see the quotations fall into a few camps. There'll be those who think it's fine that Israel does control America. Others will be shocked– but scared to say anything about it. In their case, the quotation may help freeze them up with just a little more fear.

Then there are folk like me, who are very pissed off indeed with the Zionists and what they've been up to. We're so angry, in fact, that we blog about these subjects regularly. Quotes like Sharon's 'We control America' are tempting to use if they seem credible.

IF these quotations turn out to be false, it gives the Zionists a 'gotcha' moment.

On a bulletin board or forum, a discussion about the horrors of Israeli strikes on Gaza can easily degenerate into a squabble over the accuracy of a single quotation. The very concern that many people have (and rightly so!) for accuracy and truth, can be used to distract us from the really significant facts of the moment.

A Truth & Reconciliation Commission was established in post-Apartheid South Africa to help its people face up to a sordid past and establish a truthful basis for peaceful co-existence.

The equivalent in post-Apartheid Palestine will face a challenge of considerably greater complexity.

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