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Disgust Follows Pictures of Seinfeld at ‘Anti-Terror Fantasy Camp’ in Occupied West Bank

Comedian blasted for attending facility that offers “special programs for tourists seeking a taste of the Israeli military experience”

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld posing with an employee at Caliber 3 which operates a military-style “fantasy camp” for tourists in the Occupied West Bank. (Photo: Caliber 3/Facebook)

American actor and comedian Jerry Seinfeld became the target of ire among Palestinian rights advocates worldwide on Monday after it was revealed he recently visited an “anti-terrorist training camp” located inside an illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank.

“Finally we are allowed to tell you!!” the military-experience outfit, called Caliber 3, posted to its Facebook page on Sunday. “The legendary Jerry Seinfeld and his family were in Caliber 3. During their visit to Israel last week, they came to us for shooting training with displays of combat, Krav Maga, assault dogs and lots of Zionism. It was great.”

Read more on https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/01/08/disgust-follows-pictures-seinfeld-anti-terror-fantasy-camp-occupied-west-bank

 

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia of instigating a war as their mutual foe, Iran, was rocked by a week of protests.

Macron on Wednesday joined several other world leaders to weigh in on protests that began as demonstrations against austerity measures under Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and later spilled into isolated, deadly clashes between civilians and security forces. The French leader called for dialogue with Tehran and criticized three of his international partners for pursuing what he considered bellicose policies toward a country the trio have increasingly sought to isolate and undermine in recent years.

“The official line pursued by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are our allies in many ways, is almost one that would lead us to war,” Macron told reporters, according to Reuters.

It was “a deliberate strategy for some,” he added.

 

GettyImages-901120004Iranian pro-government supporters march during a rally after authorities declared the end of deadly unrest, in the city of Mashhad, Iran, on January 4. A total of 21 people died and hundreds were arrested in five days of unrest that began on December 28, 2017.NIMA NAJAFZADEH/TASNIM NEWS AGENCY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Since taking office almost one year ago, President Donald Trump has led the U.S. on an increasingly confrontational path with Iran and has reversed historic measures by his predecessor that were designed to ease the longstanding enmity between the two nations. He decertified President Barack Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal, of which France was also a signatory and an eager supporter, and has subjected Iran to a travel ban and increased sanctions over accusations it backs terrorism across the Middle East.

Trump has most recently weaponized his Twitter account to launch a barrage of insults against Iran’s leadership and voice support for the scores of Iranian citizens trying to “take back their corrupt government.” He offered “great support,” seeking to align himself with those calling to displace, rather than amend, the revolutionary Shiite Muslim government in the country, despite these voices currently being a minority among protesters on the ground. Trump was quickly accused of meddling in international affairs and of mishandling matters of diplomacy on Twitter.

Trump’s aggressive approach to Iran has been welcomed by Israel, which deeply opposed the nuclear deal reached under Obama. Iran has long supported militant Lebanese and Palestinian groups opposed to Israel and, as forces backed by Iran overcame rebels and jihadis battling for control of Syria, Israel has warned it would not tolerate Iranian presence in the neighboring, war-torn country.

“This regime tries desperately to sow hate between us. But they won’t succeed. And when this regime finally falls, and one day it will, Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, according to Israeli network Arutz Sheva.

Israel has also sought the assistance of Saudi Arabia in taking on Iran. Despite the conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom not even formally recognizing the majority-Jewish state, reports have continued to emerge of a cautious detente between the two leading U.S. allies in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his influential crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, have stayed relatively quiet as Iran’s protests flared and appeared to subside. A viral video showing an animated Saudi invasion of Iran and Mohammed bin Salman’s vow in May to take Saudi Arabia’s and Iran’s regional power struggle for influence “inside Iran” have been met with controversy.

GettyImages-901135572Iranians shop in Tehran’s ancient Grand Bazaar, on January 4, 2018. Life in the Iranian capital appeared to go on as usual for many Iranians.ATTA KENARE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

In his statement Wednesday, which was also carried by Anadolu Agency, Macron said the actions of the U.S, Israel and Saudi Arabia could “end up surreptitiously rebuilding an ‘axis of evil,’” which, by President George W. Bush’s 2002 definition, included Iran, Iraq and Syria. Later that year, it was expanded to include Cuba, Libya and North Korea.

Bush went on to invade Iraq the following year and dislodge Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, while Obama (along with France) led the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011 and supported the uprising in Syria, which began that same year and at several points threatened the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Trump has set his sights on the “rogue regime” of nuclear-armed North Korea and the “evil dictatorship” of Iran, as laid out by his debut, “America First” National Security Strategy.

The State Department said in a statement Thursday that the U.S. had “ample authorities to hold accountable those who commit violence against protestors, contribute to censorship, or steal from the people of Iran” and Iranian prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazerin blamed the CIA along with Israel and Saudi Arabia for stirring the unrest. When Newsweek reached out, the CIA declined to comment.

As pro-government rallies surfaced throughout Iran and the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was sent to restore order, the government declared an end to the unrest, but social media chatter and international speculation about the causes and future of the demonstrations remained rampant.

AP believes it found evidence of Iran’s work on nuclear weapons | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

 

AP believes it found evidence of Iran’s work on nuclear weapons

A primitive graph provided by ‘a country critical of Iran’s atomic program’ indicts the news outlet more than Tehran

Iran Morsi

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi talks with Iranian officials at the 16th Non-aligned Movement summit in Tehran Photograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex Features

 

(updated below – Update II)

Uncritical, fear-mongering media propaganda is far too common to take note of each time it appears, but sometimes, what is produced is so ludicrous that its illustrative value should not be ignored. Such is the case with a highly trumpeted Associated Press “exclusive” from Tuesday which claims in its red headline to have discovered evidence of “Iran Working on Bomb”.

What is this newly discovered, scary evidence? It is a “graph” which AP says was “leaked” to it by “officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program to bolster their arguments that Iran’s nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon” (how mysterious: the globe is gripped with befuddlement as it tries to guess which country that might be). Here’s how AP presents the graph in all its incriminating, frightening glory:

Iran ap This, says AP, shows that “Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.” Moreover, “an intelligence summary provided with the drawing” – provided, that is, by the mysterious “country critical of Iran’s atomic program” – “linked [the graph] to other alleged nuclear weapons work – significant because it would indicate that Iran is working not on isolated experiments, but rather on a single program aimed at mastering all aspects of nuclear arms development.”

Where to begin? First, note that AP granted anonymity here not merely to an individual but to an entire country. What’s the proffered justification for doing so? The officials wanted it, so AP gave it: “officials provided the diagram only on condition that they and their country not be named.” That’s very accommodating of AP.

Binyamin Netanyahu UN with bomb Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu with a diagram illustrating Iran’s nuclear programme. Photograph: Jason Szenes/EPA Second, this graph – which is only slightly less hilariously primitive than the one Benjamin Netanyahu infamously touted with a straight face at the UN – has Farsi written under it to imbue it with that menacing Iranian-ish feel, but also helpfully uses English to ensure that US audiences can easily drink up its scariness. As The Atlantic’s Robert Wright noted: “How considerate of the Iranians to label their secret nefarious nuke graph in English!”. It’s certainly possible that Iranian scientists use English as a universal language of science, but the convenient mixing of Farsi and English should at least trigger some skepticism.

Third, even if one assumes that this graph is something other than a fraud, the very idea that computer simulations constitute “evidence” that Iran is working toward a nuclear weapon is self-evidently inane. As John Glaser extensively documents, “experts from across the spectrum have agreed with the military and intelligence consensus [from the US and Israel] that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and presents no imminent threat.” Buried in the AP article is a quote from David Albright explaining that though “the diagram looks genuine [it] seems to be designed more ‘to understand the process’ than as part of a blueprint for an actual weapon in the making.”

The case for the attack on Iraq was driven, of course, by a mountain of fabricated documents and deliberately manipulated intelligence which western media outlets uncritically amplified. Yet again, any doubts that they are willing and eager to do exactly the same with regard to the equally fictitious Iranian Threat should be forever dispelled by behavior like this.

As always, the two key facts to note on Iran are these: 1) the desperation to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon has nothing to do with fear that they would commit national suicide by using it offensively, but rather has everything to do with the deterrent capability it would provide – i.e., nukes would prevent the US or Israel from attacking Iran at will or bullying it with threats of such an attack; and 2) the US-led sanctions regime now in place based on this fear-mongering continues to impose mass suffering and death on innocent Iranians. But as long as media outlets like AP continue to blindly trumpet whatever is shoveled to them by the shielded, unnamed “country critical of Iran’s atomic program”, these facts will be suppressed and fear levels kept sky-high, thus enabling the continuation and escalation of the hideous sanctions regime, if not an outright attack.

UPDATE

Compare the super-scary graph in the possession of the Tehran villains that was unveiled by the sleuths at AP to what one randomly finds on the Internet from a Google Images search of the phrase “normal distribution cumulative probability”, on a nice little website devoted to teaching people about how to use Excel documents (via @AtomTrigger):

Iran ap This means that not only Iran, but also aspiring Excel users on the Internet, are plotting to develop nuclear weapons.

UPDATE II

At the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Yousaf Butt and Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress document that the graph trumpeted by AP “does nothing more than indicate either slipshod analysis or an amateurish hoax”. That’s because, they explain, “the diagram features quite a massive error, which is unlikely to have been made by research scientists working at a national level.”

Moreover, “the level of scientific sophistication needed to produce such a graph corresponds to that typically found in graduate- or advanced undergraduate-level nuclear physics courses.” And they echo what I documented in that prior update: “Graphs such as the one published by the Associated Press can be found in nuclear science textbooks and on the Internet.”

That this AP graph quite strongly appears to be a hoax seems a much more significant story than the discovery of the graph itself, given the ends toward which this was clearly being put, and given the way that the war in Iraq was sold to the public.

Iraq Redux?

Iran: the Neocons Are At It Again

by RALPH NADER

The same neocons who persuaded George W. Bush and crew to, in Ron Paul’s inimitable words, “lie their way into invading Iraq” in 2003, are beating the drums of war more loudly these days to attack Iran. It is remarkable how many of these war-mongers are former draft dodgers who wanted other Americans to fight the war in Vietnam.

With the exception of Ron Paul, who actually knows the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, the Republican presidential contenders have declared their belligerency toward Iranian officials who they accuse of moving toward nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime disputes that charge, claiming they are developing the technology for nuclear power and nuclear medicine.

The inspection teams of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) that monitor compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran belongs, have entered Iran numerous times and, while remaining suspicious, have not been able to find that country on the direct road to the Bomb.

While many western and some Arab countries in the Gulf region have condemned Iran’s alleged nuclear arms quest, Israel maintains some 200 ready nuclear weapons and has refused to sign the non-proliferation treaty, thereby avoiding the IAEA inspectors.

Israelis in the know have much to say. Defense minister, Ehud Barak, responded to PBS’s Charlie Rose’s question “If you were Iran wouldn’t you want a nuclear weapon?” with these words:

“Probably, probably. I don’t delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel. They have their history of 4,000 years. They look around and they see the Indians are nuclear. The Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan is nuclear as well as North Korea, not to mention the Russians.”

The Iranian regime, with a national GDP smaller than Massachusetts, is terrified. It is surrounded by powerful adversaries, including the U.S. military on three of its borders. President George W. Bush labeled Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, one of the three “axis of evil,” and Teheran knows what happened to Iraq after that White House assertion. They also know that North Korea inoculated itself from invasion by testing nuclear bombs. And all Iranians remember that the U.S. overthrew their popular elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 and installed the dictatorial Shah who ruled tyrannically for the next 27 years.

Recently, Iran has experienced mysterious cyber sabotage, drone violations of its air space, the slaying of its nuclear scientists and the blowing up of its military sites, including a major missile installation. Israeli and American officials are not trying too hard to conceal this low level warfare.

Israel military historian—strategist Martin van Creveld said in 2004, that Iranians “would be crazy not to build nuclear weapons considering the security threats they face.” Three years later he stated that “the world must now learn to live with a nuclear Iran the way we learned to live with a nuclear Soviet Union and a nuclear China….We Israelis have what it takes to deter an Iranian attack. We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us…thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany.”

U.S. General John Abizaid is one of numerous military people who say that the world can tolerate a nuclear Iran—which, like other countries, does not wish to commit suicide.

Using the “Iranian threat,” served Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who on his first tour of duty back in 1996, speaking to a joint session of Congress, made a big point of the forthcoming Iranian bomb.

Somehow the Iranians, who were invaded in 1980 by a U.S.-backed Saddam Hussein, resulting in a million casualties, and who have not invaded anybody for 250 years, are taking a very long time to build a capability for atomic bomb production, much less the actual weapons.

In mid-2011, Meir Dagan, recently retired head of Israel’s “CIA,” repeated his opposition to a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, adding it would engulf the region in a conventional war.

He further took the Israeli government to task for failing “to put forth a vision,” noting that “Israel must present an initiative to the Palestinians and adopt the 2002 Saudi Arabia peace proposal, reiterated since, that would open full diplomatic relations with some two dozen Arab and Islamic countries in return for an Israeli pullback to the 1967 borders and recognition of a Palestinian state.

The war-mongers against Iran have often distorted Iranian statements to suit their purpose and kept in the shadows several friendly Iranian initiatives offered to the George W. Bush Administration.

Flynt L. Leverett, now with Brookings and before a State Department and CIA official, listed three initiatives that were rejected. Right after the Sept. 11 attacks, Iran offered to help Washington overthrow the Taliban. The U.S. declined the offer. Second, in the spring of 2003, top Iranian officials sent the White House a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve questions regarding its weapons programs, relations with Hezbollah and Hamas and a Palestinian peace agreement with Israel. This proposal was rebuffed and ignored.

Third, in October 2003, European officials secured an agreement from Iran to suspend Iranian uranium enrichment and to pursue talks that Mr. Leverett said “might lead to an economic, nuclear and strategic deal.” The Bush administration “refused to join the European initiative, ensuring that the talks failed,” he added.

A few days ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Iran was developing a capability for making nuclear weapons someday but was not yet building a bomb. So why is the Obama Administration talking about a western boycott of Iran’s oil exports, so crucial to its faltering, sanctions-ridden economy? Is this latest sanction designed to squeeze Iranian civilians and lead to the overthrow of the regime? Arguably it may backfire and produce more support for the government.

Backing the Iranian regime into such a fateful corner risks counter-measures that may disrupt the gigantic flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Should that occur, watch the prices of your gasoline, heating bill and other related products go through the roof—among other consequences.

Isn’t it about time for the abdicatory Congress to reassert its constitutional responsibilities? It owes the American people comprehensive, public House and Senate hearings that produce knowledgeable testimony about these issues and all relevant history for wide media coverage.

The drums of war should not move our country into a propagandized media frenzy that preceded and helped cause the Iraq invasion with all the socio-cide in that country and all the costly blowbacks against U.S. national interests?

It is past time for the American citizenry to wake up and declare: Iran will not be an Iraq Redux!

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.