ARI BERMAN [email], @AriBerman
Romney at times tried to portray himself as peace-loving at last night’s debate. Berman, who is available for a limited number of interviews, wrote the piece “Mitt Romney’s Neocon War Cabinet.”
ELIK ELHANAN, via Nurit Peled-Elhanan [email] YONATAN SHAPIRA [email]
REUT MOR [email]
Elhanan, Shapira and Mor, co-founders of Combatants for Peace, were among the passengers on a boat to Gaza that was intercepted by the Israeli military on Friday. A former paratrooper in the Israeli military, Elhanan was just released from prison and is currently under house arrest in Israel. He said today: “We were attacked by an Israeli armada — ships with hundreds of soldiers — charging us in a 100-year-old sailboat.
“Among our passengers were six members of the European Parliament, an 80-year-old reverend and a musician. Our cargo was humanitarian aid and toys and books for children. They were armed to the teeth and used tasers and other forms of violence again us. Critically, they confiscated any form of media that might tell a different story than what nonsense the Israeli government puts out.
“I served in the Israeli military from 1995 to 1998 as a paratrooper. Since 2002, I have publicly refused to serve as a reserve soldier.”
When asked to comment on Obama and Romney’s repeated lauding of Israel, Elhanan said: “This is a ridiculous situation. If these candidates really supported Israel, they would object to the destructive course of its government.
“I’m under house arrest while the government tries to concoct some charge against me. I went on the boat to get to Gaza because of the ongoing crime of the collective punishment being inflicted on the people there. This has nothing to do with the security situation Israel is facing. The siege of Gaza cannot be looked at as anything but collective punishment that entrenches Palestinians in terrible and destitute conditions, with the health and environmental conditions continuing to deteriorate. The UN is saying in eight years, Gaza will be uninhabitable.”
JOHN STEINBACH [email]
Bob Schieffer suggested that Israel might need the U.S. to defend it against a hypothetical attack from Iran, effectively ignoring Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Steinbach has researched Israel’s decades-old nuclear weapons program and said: “A nuclear arms race in the Middle East has already been started — by Israel.” See Steinbach’s paper “Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal: Implications for the Middle East and the World.”
VIJAY PRASHAD [email]
Author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter and The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, Prashad is chair of South Asian history and director of international studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. He said today: “The debate was not serious because it ignored the very great changes that are taking place. There has been a real shift over the last 30 years of power on the planet. So when President Obama turned to Mitt Romney and said, ‘The 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back’ that was only half true. Because the truth is, the entire debate was structured as if the U.S. was indeed in a position of primacy, and as if a kind of Americanism would be willing to and would be willingly taken as it sweeps the planet; with the U.S. as the hub and countries coming out as the spokes that are its allies holding the rim of the rest of the world in tact. That kind of spatial way in which people have talked about foreign policy is no longer applicable. …
“If you take the Iran policy and imagine the rest of the world — it was about 4:00 in the morning in Iran, it was about maybe 6:00 in the morning in India — I was watching on the Twittersphere, people were awake in many of these countries following the debates. I mean, imagine watching the debates through their eyes. What they were seeing was a deeply sadistic foreign policy that kept trying to talk about ‘crippling’ and such. You know, that’s really not the language even of diplomacy. That’s already a very aggressive tone, it sets the agenda that it’s either that places like Iran either follow an American dictat or they will face the consequences. There’s no understanding that on the other side, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan — the regional partners — are heavily engaged with Iran.” See a new interview with Prashad with The Real News.