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New Executive Order Targeting Iranian Officials Responsible for or Complicit in Serious Human Rights Abuses

New Executive Order Targeting Iranian Officials Responsible for or Complicit in Serious Human Rights Abuses

Office of the Spokesman

Washington, DC
September 29, 2010

Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that imposes sanctions on Iranian officials determined to be responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses involving Iran. In signing today’s Order, the President identified eight individuals for sanctions who share responsibility for the sustained and severe violation of human rights in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election by listing them in the Annex to the Order.

The Iranian individuals identified today are: Mohammad Ali Jafari, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC); Sadeq Mahsouli, current Minister of Welfare and Security and former Minister of the Interior; Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, current Prosecutor General of Iran and former Minister of Intelligence; Saeed Mortazavi, former Prosecutor-General of Tehran; Heydar Moslehi, Minister of Intelligence; Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, current Minister of the Interior and former Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces for Law Enforcement; Ahmad-Reza Radan, Deputy Chief of Iran’s National Police; and Hossein Taeb, current Deputy IRGC Commander for Intelligence and former Commander of the IRGC’s Basij Forces.

This Order provides the United States with new tools to target human rights abuses engaged in by officials of the Government of Iran. As a result of this action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the individuals listed in the Annex have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. The individuals listed in the Annex to the Executive Order are also subject to visa sanctions.

President Obama identified the following individuals for sanctions by listing them in the Annex to the Order:

  • Mohammad Ali Jafari is the Commander of the IRGC. As commander of the IRGC, Jafari controlled the Basij Forces during the June 2009 election. Forces under his command participated in beatings, murder, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of peaceful protestors.
  • Sadeq Mahsouli is currently the Minister of Welfare and Social Security. He was Minister of the Interior at the time of the June 2009 election. As Minister of the Interior, Mahsouli had authority over all police forces and Interior Ministry security agents. His forces were responsible for attacks on the dormitories of Tehran University on June 15 2009, during which students were severely beaten and detained. Detained students were tortured and ill-treated in the basement of the Interior Ministry building; other protestors were severely abused at the Kahrizak Detention Center, which was operated by police under Mahsouli’s control.
  • Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei is currently the Prosecutor General of Iran. As the Minister of Intelligence at the time of the June 2009 election, Mohseni-Ejei has confirmed that he authorized confrontations with protesters and their arrests during his tenure as Minister of Intelligence. As a result, protesters were detained without formal charges brought against them and during this detention detainees were subjected to beatings, solitary confinement, and a denial of due process rights at the hands of intelligence officers under the direction of Mohseni-Ejei. In addition, political figures were coerced into making false confessions under unbearable interrogations, which included torture, abuse, blackmail, and the threatening of family members.
  • Saeed Mortazavi is the former Tehran Prosecutor General. As Prosecutor-General, he issued a blanket order used for the detention of hundreds of activists, journalists, and students, and was responsible for sending detainees to the Kahrizak Detention Center, where they were tortured and abused, resulting in several deaths. He was suspended from office in August 2010 after an investigation by the Iranian judiciary of his role in the death of three men detained on his orders following the election.
  • Heydar Moslehi has been the Minister of Intelligence since August 2009. Under his leadership, the Ministry of Intelligence has continued the practices of widespread arbitrary detention and persecution of protestors and dissidents. The Ministry of Intelligence continues to run Ward 209 of Evin Prison, where many activists are being held for their peaceful activities in opposition to the ruling government; interrogators from the Ministry of Intelligence have subjected prisoners in Ward 209 to beatings, mental abuse, and sexual abuse. In recent months, prisoners in Ward 209 have reported forced confessions and interference by the Ministry of Intelligence in the judicial process; one detainee from the ward was executed after a forced confession and another was executed when torture failed to yield a confession. As the Minister of Intelligence, Moslehi bears responsibility for the ongoing abuses.
  • Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was appointed the Deputy Commander of Armed Forces in charge of Police Forces in order to “ensure order and security” in November 2009. He was in charge of the government response to protests on Ashura, one of the holiest days in Shia Islam, which in 2009 coincided with December 27, 2009. State media reported 37 dead and hundreds arrested. He is currently the Minister of Interior and, as such, has authority over all police forces, Interior Ministry security agents, and plainsclothes agents.
  • Ahmad-Reza Radan has been the Deputy Chief of Iran’s National Police since 2008. As Deputy Chief of National Police, Radan was responsible for beatings, murder, and arbitrary arrests and detentions against protestors that were committed by the police forces. In addition, several detainees taken to Kahrizak Detention Center, the detention center where at least three protestors lost their lives after being subject to abuses, have alleged that Radan was present in Kahrizak and personally participated in the beatings and ill-treatment of detainees.
  • Hossein Taeb is currently the Deputy IRGC Commander for Intelligence. As Commander of the paramilitary Basij Forces at the time of the June 2009 election, forces under Taeb’s command participated in beatings, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of peaceful protestors and other political activists.

Identifying information

Individual: Mohammad Ali Jafari
AKA: Ali Jafari
AKA: Mohammad Ali Ja’fari
AKA: Aziz
AKA: Aziz Ja’fari
POB: Yazd, Iran
DOB: 1 September 1957

Individual: Sadeq Mahsouli
AKA: Sadeq Mahsuli
POB: Orumieh, Iran
DOB: 1959

Individual: Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei
AKA: Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei
POB: Ejiyeh, Iran
DOB: c. 1956

Individual: Saeed Mortazavi
AKA: Sa’id Mortazavi
POB: Meibod, Yazd, Iran
DOB: 1967

Individual: Heydar Moslehi
AKA: Heidar Moslehi
POB: Isfahan, Iran
DOB: 1956

Individual: Mostafa Mohammad Najjar
POB: Tehran, Iran
DOB: 1956

Individual: Ahmad-Reza Radan
POB: Isfahan, Iran
DOB: 1963
Alt DOB: 1964

Individual: Hossein Taeb
AKA: Hosein Taeb
AKA: Hussayn Taeb
AKA: Hassan Taeb
POB: Tehran, Iran
DOB: 1963

I, Left Gatekeeper

I, Left Gatekeeper
Why the “9/11 Truth” movement makes the “Left Behind” sci-fi series read like Shakespeare
by Matt Tabbi
A few weeks ago I wrote a column on the anniversary of 9/11 that offhandedly dismissed 9/11 conspiracy theorists as “clinically insane.” I expected a little bit of heat in response, but nothing could have prepared me for the deluge of fuck-you mail that I actually got. Apparently every third person in the United States thinks George Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks.

“You’re just another MSM-whore left gatekeeper paid off by corporate America,” said one writer. “What you do isn’t journalism at all, you dick,” said another. “You’re the one who’s clinically insane,” barked a third, before educating me on the supposed anomalies of physics involved with the collapse of WTC-7.

I have two basic gripes with the 9/11 Truth movement. The first is that it gives supporters of Bush an excuse to dismiss critics of this administration. I have no doubt that every time one of those Loose Change dickwads opens his mouth, a Republican somewhere picks up five votes. In fact, if there were any conspiracy here, I’d be far more inclined to believe that this whole movement was cooked up by Karl Rove as a kind of mass cyber-provocation, along the lines of Gordon Liddy hiring hippie peace protesters to piss in the lobbies of hotels where campaign reporters were staying.

Secondly, it’s bad enough that people in this country think Tim LaHaye is a prophet and Sean Hannity is an objective newsman. But if large numbers of people in this country can swallow 9/11 conspiracy theory without puking, all hope is lost. Our best hope is that the Japanese take pity on us and allow us to serve as industrial slaves in their future empire, farming sushi rice and assembling robot toys.

I don’t have the space here to address every single reason why 9/11 conspiracy theory is so shamefully stupid, so I’ll have to be content with just one point: 9/11 Truth is the lowest form of conspiracy theory, because it doesn’t offer an affirmative theory of the crime.

Forget for a minute all those Internet tales about inexplicable skyscraper fires, strange holes in the ground at Shanksville and mysterious flight manifestoes. What is the theory of the crime, according to the 9/11 Truth movement?

Strikingly, there is no obvious answer to that question, since for all the many articles about “Able Danger” and the witnesses who heard explosions at Ground Zero, there is not — at least not that I could find — a single document anywhere that lays out a single, concrete theory of what happened, who ordered what and when they ordered it, and why. There obviously is such a theory, but it has to be pieced together by implication, by paying attention to the various assertions of 9/11 lore (the towers were mined, the Pentagon was really hit by a cruise missile, etc.) and then assembling them later on into one single story. But the funny thing is, when you put together all of those disparate theories, you get the dumbest story since Roman Polanski’s Pirates.

The specifics vary, but the basic gist of what They Say Happened goes something like this:

A group of power-hungry neocons, led by Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Bush and others and organizationally represented by groups like the Project for the New American Century, seeks to bring about a “Pearl-Harbor-like event” that would accelerate a rightist revolution, laying the political foundation for invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Your basic Reichstag fire scenario, logical enough so far. Except in this story, the Reichstag fire is an immensely complicated media hoax; the conspirators plot to topple the World Trade Center and pin a series of hijackings on a group of Sunni extremists with alleged ties to Al Qaeda. How do they topple the Trade Center? Well, they make use of NORAD’s expertise in flying remote-control aircraft and actually fly two such remote-control aircraft into the Towers (in another version of the story, they conspire with Al Qaeda terrorists to actually hijack the planes), then pass the planes off as commercial jetliners in the media. But it isn’t the plane crashes that topple the buildings, but bombs planted in the Towers that do the trick.

For good measure — apparently to lend credence to the hijacking story — they then fake another hijacking/crash in the Pentagon, where there actually is no plane crash at all but instead a hole created by a cruise missile attack, fired by a mysterious “white jet” that after the attack circles the White House for some time, inspiring the attention of Secret Service agents who point at it curiously from the ground (apparently these White House Secret Service agents were not in on the plot, although FBI agents on scene at Ground Zero and in Shanksville and elsewhere were).

Lastly, again apparently to lend weight to the whole hijacking cover story, they burn a big hole in the ground in Pennsylvania and claim that a jet went down there, crashed by a bunch of brave fictional civilians who fictionally storm the fictional plane cabin. The real-life wife of one of the fictional heroes, Lisa Beamer, then writes a convincingly self-serving paean/memoir to her dead husband, again lending tremendous verisimilitude to the hijacking story. These guys are good!

Just imagine how this planning session between Bush, Rummy and Cheney must have gone:

BUSH: So, what’s the plan again?

CHENEY: Well, we need to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. So what we’ve decided to do is crash a whole bunch of remote-controlled planes into Wall Street and the Pentagon, say they’re real hijacked commercial planes, and blame it on the towelheads; then we’ll just blow up the buildings ourselves to make sure they actually fall down.

RUMSFELD: Right! And we’ll make sure that some of the hijackers are agents of Saddam Hussein! That way we’ll have no problem getting the public to buy the invasion.

CHENEY: No, Dick, we won’t.

RUMSFELD: We won’t?

CHENEY: No, that’s too obvious. We’ll make the hijackers Al Qaeda and then just imply a connection to Iraq.

RUMSFELD: But if we’re just making up the whole thing, why not just put Saddam’s fingerprints on the attack?

CHENEY: (sighing) It just has to be this way, Dick. Ups the ante, as it were. This way, we’re not insulated if things go wrong in Iraq. Gives us incentive to get the invasion right the first time around.

BUSH: I’m a total idiot who can barely read, so I’ll buy that. But I’ve got a question. Why do we need to crash planes into the Towers at all? Since everyone knows terrorists already tried to blow up that building complex from the ground up once, why don’t we just blow it up like we plan to anyway, and blame the bombs on the terrorists?

RUMSFELD: Mr. President, you don’t understand. It’s much better to sneak into the buildings ourselves in the days before the attacks, plant the bombs and then make it look like it was exploding planes that brought the buildings down. That way, we involve more people in the plot, stand a much greater chance of being exposed and needlessly complicate everything!

CHENEY: Of course, just toppling the Twin Towers will never be enough. No one would give us the war mandate we need if we just blow up the Towers. Clearly, we also need to shoot a missile at a small corner of the Pentagon to create a mightily underpublicized additional symbol of international terrorism — and then, obviously, we need to fake a plane crash in the middle of fucking nowhere in rural Pennsylvania.

RUMSFELD: Yeah, it goes without saying that the level of public outrage will not be sufficient without that crash in the middle of fucking nowhere.

CHENEY: And the Pentagon crash — we’ll have to do it in broad daylight and say it was a plane, even though it’ll really be a cruise missile.

BUSH: Wait, why do we have to use a missile?

CHENEY: Because it’s much easier to shoot a missile and say it was a plane. It’s not easy to steer a real passenger plane into the Pentagon. Planes are hard to come by.

BUSH: But aren’t we using two planes for the Twin Towers?

CHENEY: Mr. President, you’re missing the point. With the Pentagon, we use a missile, and say it was a plane.

BUSH: Right, but I’m saying, why don’t we just use a plane and say it was a plane? We’ll be doing that with the Twin Towers, right?

CHENEY: Right, but in this case, we use a missile. (Throws hands up in frustration) Don, can you help me out here?

RUMSFELD: Mr. President, in Washington, we use a missile because it’s sneakier that way. Using an actual plane would be too obvious, even though we’ll be doing just that in New York.

BUSH: Oh, OK.

RUMSFELD: The other good thing about saying that it was a passenger jet is that that way, we have to invent a few hundred fictional victims and account for a nonexistent missing crew and plane. It’s always better when you leave more cover story to invent, more legwork to do and more possible holes to investigate. Doubt, legwork and possible exposure — you can’t pull off any good conspiracy without them.

BUSH: You guys are brilliant! Because if there’s one thing about Americans — they won’t let a president go to war without a damn good reason. How could we ever get the media, the corporate world and our military to endorse an invasion of a secular Iraqi state unless we faked an attack against New York at the hands of a bunch of Saudi religious radicals? Why, they’d never buy it. Look at how hard it was to get us into Vietnam, Iraq the last time, Kosovo?

CHENEY: Like pulling teeth!

RUMSFELD: Well, I’m sold on the idea. Let’s call the Joint Chiefs, the FAA, the New York and Washington, D.C., fire departments, Rudy Giuliani, all three networks, the families of a thousand fictional airline victims, MI5, the FBI, FEMA, the NYPD, Larry Eagleburger, Osama bin Laden, Noam Chomsky and the fifty thousand other people we’ll need to pull this off. There isn’t a moment to lose!

BUSH: Don’t forget to call all of those Wall Street hotshots who donated $100 million to our last campaign. They’ll be thrilled to know that we’ll be targeting them for execution as part of our thousand-tentacled modern-day bonehead Reichstag scheme! After all, if we’re going to make martyrs — why not make them out of our campaign paymasters? Shit, didn’t the Merrill Lynch guys say they needed a refurbishing in their New York offices?

RUMSFELD: Oh, they’ll get a refurbishing, all right. Just in time for the “Big Wedding”!

ALL THREE: (cackling) Mwah-hah-hah!

You get the idea. None of this stuff makes any sense at all. If you just need an excuse to assume authoritarian powers, why fake a plane crash in Shanksville? What the hell does that accomplish? If you’re using bombs, why fake a hijacking, why use remote-control planes? If the entire government apparatus is in on the scam, then why bother going to all this murderous trouble at all — only to go to war a year later with a country no one even bothered to falsely blame for the attacks? You won’t see any of this explored in 9/11 Truth lore, because the “conspiracy” they’re describing is impossible everywhere outside a Zucker brothers movie — unbelievably stupid in its conception, pointlessly baroque and excessive in its particulars, but flawless in its execution, with no concrete evidence left behind and tens of thousands keeping their roles a secret forever.

We are to imagine that not one of Bush’s zillions of murderous confederates would slip and leave real incriminating evidence anywhere along the way, forcing us to deduce this massive crime via things like the shaking of a documentary filmmaker’s tripod before the Towers’ collapse (aha, see that shaking — it must have been a bomb planted by the president and his ten thousand allies!). Richard Nixon was a hundred times smarter than Bush, and he couldn’t prevent leaks and cries of anguished pseudo-conscience from sprouting among a dozen intimately involved conspirators — but under the 9/11 conspiracy theory, even the lowest FBI agent used to seal off the crime scene never squeaks. It’s absurd.

I challenge a 9/11 Truth leader like Loose Change writer Dylan Avery to come up with a detailed, complete summary of the alleged plot — not the bits and pieces, but the whole story, put together — that would not make any fifth grader anywhere burst out in convulsive laughter. And without that, all the rest of it is bosh and bunkum, on the order of the “sonar evidence” proving the existence of the Loch Ness monster. If you can’t put all of these alleged scientific impossibilities together into a story that makes sense, then all you’re doing is jerking off — and it’s not like no one’s ever done that on the Internet before.

Whenever anyone chooses to dismiss 9/11 conspiracy theorists, accusations fly; the Internet screams that you’ve aided and abetted George Bush. I disagree. To me, the 9/11 Truth movement is, itself, a classic example of the pathology of George Bush’s America. Bush has presided over a country that has become hopelessly divided into insoluble, paranoid tribes, one of which happens to be Bush’s own government. All of these tribes have things in common; they’re insular movements that construct their own reality by cherry-picking the evidence they like from the vast information marketplace, violently disbelieve in the humanity of those outside their ranks, and lavishly praise their own movement mediocrities as great thinkers and achievers. There are as many Thomas Paines in the 9/11 Truth movement as there are Isaac Newtons among the Intelligent Design crowd.

There’s not a whole lot of difference, psychologically, between Sean Hannity’s followers believing liberals to be the same as terrorists, and 9/11 Truthers believing even the lowest soldier or rank-and-file FAA or NORAD official to be a cold-blooded mass murderer. In both cases you have to be far gone enough into your private world of silly tribal bullshit that the concept of “your fellow citizen” has ceased to have any meaning whatsoever. It may be that America has become too big and complicated for most people to deal with being part of. People are longing for a smaller, stupider reality. Some, like Bush, sell a prepackaged version. Others just make theirs up out of thin air. God help us.

It seems that ANYONE criticizing Israel for their disgusting behaviors and their long history of human rights abuse is automatically called for an “Anti-Semite”, this is not a news, but the way ADL and Ynetnews portray Roger Waters for their video is beyond stupid.

Roger Waters presents: ‘Star of David’ bombs – Israel Culture, Ynetnews

Roger Waters presents: ‘Star of David’ bombs

(Video) Anti-Defamation League criticizes rock music icon for using imagery associated with stereotypes about Jews, money as part of a segment of his ‘The Wall Live’ Tour that takes aim at Israel’s West Bank separation fence

Ynetnews

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday criticized rock music icon Roger Waters for using imagery long associated with stereotypes about Jews and money as part of a segment of his 2010-2011 “The Wall Live” Tour that takes aim at Israel’s West Bank security fence.

During his performances of “Goodbye Blue Sky,” an animated scene projects images of planes dropping bombs in the shape of Jewish Stars of David followed by dollar signs, according to an interview in the September 30 issue of Rolling Stone.

Controversial performance in Toronto

Waters, 67, is a known left-wing activist who has spoken against Israel’s policy in the territories. “It’s a horrific edifice, this thing,” he told reporters in 2006 as he stood beside a section of the separation fence in Bethlehem.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued a statement saying that “it is outrageous that Roger Waters has chosen to use the juxtaposition of a Jewish Star of David with the symbol of dollar signs. While he insists that his intent was to criticize Israel’s West Bank security fence, the use of such imagery in a concert setting seems to leave the message open to interpretation, and the meaning could easily be misunderstood as a comment about Jews and money.

“Of course Waters has every right to express his political views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through his music and stagecraft. However, the images he has chosen, when put together in the same sequence, cross a line into anti-Semitism.

“We wish that Waters had chosen some other way to convey his political views without playing into and dredging up the worst age-old anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews and their supposed obsession with making money.”

It should be noted that the clip also displays bombs in the shape of crosses, Muslim crescents and a fuel company’s logo.

“Pro-Israel” Neocons Go Global « SpeakEasy

“Pro-Israel” Neocons Go Global

This column was first posted on Truthout.org.

The Friends of Israel Initiative.”  It sounds innocent enough. Hey, I’m a friend of Israel too. But with “Friends” like these — an international network of hard-core neoconservatives — Israel doesn’t need enemies. Though they claim to be apolitical and take no positions on the specifics of the Israel-Palestine conflict, these neocon “Friends” are clearly out to bolster Israel’s right-wing policies, which would condemn Israelis as well as Palestinians to an endless round of conflict, insecurity, and suffering.

The “Friends” first organized themselves in Europe. Their chief spokesman (or is it front man?) is former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar. Their supporters include the one-time progressive hero of Czech freedom, Vaclaw Havel, as well as Northen Ireland’s Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble, and Alejandro Toledo, who was a self-proclaimed liberal as president of Peru. Old neocons don’t die, it seems. They go global.

Their latest and most importance appearance was in Washington, where Aznar was very busy addressing the Council on Foreign Relations, hosting a dinner for the neocon elite, giving copious interviews, and talking with friendly members of the House and Senate. Opening doors for Aznar was the most prominent American supporter of the “Friends,” John Bolton, who once carried the neocon flag proudly as G. W. Bush’s ambassador to the U. N.

But Bolton apparently forgot to tell Aznar the first rule of America’s neocons: never reveal your true agenda in public. Everywhere Aznar went, he blurted out the whole ideology — racist, xenophobic, paranoid warts and all — the same dangerous witch’s brew of neocon ideology that we thought was just a dead relic of failed Bushite foreign policy. Here’s the gist of Aznar’s message. (If you can’t quite believe it, you can read full texts of his presentations here, here, here, here, and here.)

It begins with a simplistic version of Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” fantasy:  “We believe in the West, in the values we all share,” Aznar proclaimed. Now “it is necessary to enforce” Western values, because “the threat to our way of life from radical Islamists is real. … There are those who would like to destroy our system to impose their vision, like the revolutionary ayatollahs in Iran, or the jihadists led or inspired by Al Qaeda.”

Reflecting the racism of the neocon worldview, Aznar scorned Osama bin Laden for “reveal[ing] the Arab mind” when Bin Laden said that “if someone has to choose between a strong horse and a weak horse, he will invariably choose the strong one.”

Yet Aznar immediately revealed the neocon mind’s own obsession with strength and its fear of weakness.  “For decades if not centuries,” he said, “the strong horse has been the West. … The threat is the weakness of the European system, the Western system of values. … Our weakness, perceived or real, is the strength of our enemies.”

However (and this is a point the neocons’ critics often miss) the war they want to wage is not primarily the old-fashioned kind, fought with guns and bombs to gain territory or resources:  “If we want to prevail over our adversaries we must start reinforcing ourselves, starting with the ideological front and the war of ideas. … We can counter- attack, defend ourselves, and strengthen our values. … It is indispensable to defend our moral values.”

The overriding issue for neocons is what Aznar called “moral clarity. … There is still right and wrong in this complicated world.” Their greatest fear is not Iran or Al Qaeda but what they see as the blurring of moral absolutes, the moral chaos, in the West: “If we allow those fundamentals to be blurred and eroded and confused, we will all be dangerously adrift.”

So what does this all have to do with Israel? Everything, Aznar insisted — and if you have trouble following his breathtaking leaps in logic, I sympathize. But here goes:

The argument begins by affirming precisely the fact that drove so many Arabs to resist Zionism from the beginning:  “We consider Israel not as a Middle Eastern country, but a Western country in the Middle East. We share the same traditions, roots, values. … Israel is a corner stone of our Western civilization,” because “Judeo-Christian values form the roots of our civilization. … Therefore, the interests of Israel are our interests.”

And Israel, it seems, is now the place where Judeo-Christian values are most under attack, making it the front line in the global battle of values: “Israel is the first line of defense against global jihadism. … Defending Israel is ultimately defending the western roots, the western values that many in Europe, and some in America, seem to have forgotten. They are not obsolete. And the best proof is precisely Israel and its people.”

Why is Israel the best proof? I’ll skip over Aznar’s fulsome praise of Israel’s Western-style democracy, not only because that democracy is so flawed (even in Israel itself, and much more so in the occupied territories) but because neocons have never seriously cared very much about democracy anyway.

Their main concern has always been preserving the traditional values that (they imagine) are the only thing standing between us and total anarchy — especially the value of self-restraint, as shown in strong (masculine) will power and a readiness for self-sacrifice. Israel is so valuable in the neocon’s eyes because, Aznar claimed, “it is one of the few nations willing to pay a price for your survival, a nation that will do whatever it takes to defend itself.”

In this weird tangle of twisted thinking, one contradiction is especially glaring. Aznar said over and over that Israel must be treated as a legitimate, normal country, just like any other. Yet over and over he treated Israel as a unique country that carries a distinctive and heavy weight of symbolic meaning unlike any other. It’s precisely because Israel and its right-wing supporters constantly insist on the unique symbolic value of the “Jewish state,” and claim unique privileges for their state, that they’ve run into the problem that they call delegitimization in the first place. Most of Israel’s critics would back off if Israel presented itself, and behaved like, an ordinary normal nation.

Aznar went deeper into illogic by offering a new version of the old domino theory:  “Israel is under a new kind of attack — an attack on Israel’s legitimacy, on her right to exist. … Delegitimizing Israel undermines our identity, warps our values and put at risk what we are and who we are. … if Israel at one moment disappeared or was attacked as a consequence of threats, the next territory to be confronted directly would be Europe. … Letting Israel be demonized will lead to the deligitimation of our own cherished values. If Israel were to disappear by the force of its enemies, I sincerely doubt the West could remain as we know it. …If Israel goes down, we all go down … the West as we know it would cease to exist.”

Why? Because, the neocon clearly implied, Bin Laden was right when he called it a battle of perception:  “The strong horse [the West] is not perceived to be strong anymore. … Israel is an integral part of the West, and the weaker it is, the weaker the entire West will be perceived to be.” Again, Israel is valuable not for itself but as a stalking horse — either a strong one or a weak one — for “the West” in the midst of the Middle East.

The supposed weakness of the West, especially its moral weakness, is a favorite theme of neocon paranoia. “Major parts of the West are suffering a kind of crisis of identity,” Aznar lamented. “Europe is a good example. With a declining population, increasing numbers of Muslim immigrants, many of them exposed to radical ideas, multiculturalism has imposed itself as the politically correct way …  Judeo-Christian values are aggressively challenged every day and” — here we get to the heart of neoconservatism — “the 68-generation that dominates our current leadership does nothing to defend them. Peacenik Europe has been fighting the West for too long.”

Yes, it’s those ‘60s-era peaceniks who are the ultimate enemy. It’s their fault, Aznar contended, that Europe “has been so hypercritical of Israel” while sympathizing with the radical Muslim purveyors of evil: “The West has lost the moral clarity needed to fight the anti-semitic critics of the State of Israel.”

In Washington, Aznar stressed similar failures of the U.S., though in more circumspect terms. When he said “This is a question of will … Do you have the will to win or not? To have indecision in the government is very bad,” he was ostensibly talking about the administration’s vacillating policies in Afghanistan.  But for neoconservatives, specific political situations are always symbols of the larger moral battle. And the U.S., the Spanish neocon charged, “is going through a period of introspection, exhaustion, and even confusion.”

Once again, by some twisted logic, this all leads back to Israel as the test of American, and thus Western, moral will: “I don’t think the growing attacks against Israel, and the general campaign of deligitimation are unrelated to the crisis of the West, and more particularly, the crisis of confidence that emanates from the White House today.” Obama is “embracing many enemies of America while punishing its traditional allies,” especially — you guessed it — Israel. That apparently is proof enough that the U.S. president is one of those ’68 peaceniks who are destroying the Judaeo-Christian values and moral fiber of the West.

It might be tempting to dismiss all this as paranoid nonsense — just as it was tempting to dismiss the paranoid nonsense purveyed by neocons like William Kristol and Robert Kagan in the late ‘90s, when they laid the ideological groundwork for Bush’s “war on terror.” But it would be just as dangerous to dismiss the neocons now as it was then.

Military aggression is always on their minds, as Aznar occasionally let slip: “Israel is increasingly threatened by the scenario of a nuclear Iran — something the world must certainly act urgently to prevent. … If the U.S. keeps fading away as a force for good in the world, Israel will be forced to play a growing role in the region, and possibly beyond the region.”

John Bolton spelled it out more concretely, in an interview in Ha’aretz.  Netanyahu “tries to stay as close as he can to the Obama administration,” Bolton contended. “He has demonstrated his willingness to do whatever it takes to satisfy the administration’s demands on dealings with the Palestinians. And at some point, if the [Israeli] military decides to use military force against Iran’s nuclear weapons program I hope the president will reciprocate.”  That kind of saber-rattling, from a group whose tentacles reach to the highest levels of power and are now going global, has to be taken seriously.

Less clearly but just as importantly, Aznar’s words should be taken seriously because he proclaims out loud what so many others — especially in this country — think but hesitate to say, or perhaps believe unconsciously without even realizing it: The Israelis are “our kind of people,” standing on the front line, defending “our way of life” against against Arab and Muslim evildoers who would destroy us.

That prejudice, sometimes blatant but often quite subtle, tilts the public in favor of the military occupiers and against the occupied. Perhaps it explains why, in a recent poll, Americans said they want their government to support Israel, not the Palestinians, by a margin of eight to one. And they saw Israel more committed to peace than the Palestinians by a margin of six to one.

The results of that poll might not be quite representative of the public, because Republicans and conservatives were a bit overrepresented in the sampling. And, as many recent polls have shown, conservative Republicans are rather more likely than others — even Jews — to give strong support to Israel’s policies.

In fact House GOP leader John Boehner sounded like he was reading from Aznar’s script when he recently declared that “Israel is on the front lines of the ideological and violent clash we are confronting. The attacks against it … are often the vanguard of what our country will face … Where I come from, you stick by your friends, you stick by people who share your values. You do not send a message of strength to your enemies by shunning your friends and allies.”

It’s hardly likely that Republicans have a special affection for Jews. It’s far more likely that the stereotype of Israel as the defender of Western values and “our way of life” is the crucial factor here. Nor should we discount the lingering effect of habits built up through four decades of cold war, when Israel was seen as a bulwark against communism. In many respects, “the Arab (or Muslim) terrorists” have simply replaced “the Reds” in a scenario that remains a simplistic, cowboy-movie tale of good against evil — a scenario that always appeals most to conservatives, neo- or otherwise.  But the neocons seem especially adept at stirring up the fear of “evildoers,” giving it an intellectual veneer, and eventually turning into government policy.

So it’s not surprising that a Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, introduced a resolution in the House supporting the goals of the “Friends.”  So far H. Con. Res. 315 has only one co-sponsor (Democrat Albio Sires), and it may not go anywhere. But the right-wing Israel lobby often uses such Congressional resolutions to create a bandwagon effect, especially when the “danger” of meaningful peace talks lurks anywhere on the horizon.  So it’s worth letting your representative know that you don’t want any part of these “Friends,” who would use their racist, chauvinist, “clash of civilizations” ideology to snuff out the tiny glimmer of hope for peace in the Middle East.