Saturday, February 25, 2006
James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya - The Caricatures in Middle East Politics
February 19, 2006
The centerpiece of the current explosive confrontation between Islamic and Arab protestors, political leaders and governments and the US and Western European regimes and publishers is rooted in Israeli efforts to polarize the world in its favor and to promote isolation, economic sanctions and/or a military attack on Iran. There are several key questions, which almost all commentators and analysts have failed to address. These include: Why did the “cartoons” get published in Denmark?
What is the political background of “Flemming Rose” the cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, who solicited, selected and published the cartoons?
What larger issues coincide with the timing of the cartoons publication and reproduction?
Who “benefits” from the publication of the cartoons and the ensuing confrontation between the Arabs/Islam and the West?
What is the contemporary political context of the Arab/Islam protests?
How is the Israeli secret service, Mossad, implicated in provoking the Western-Islamic/Arab conflict, and how do the consequences measure up to their expectations?
A starting point for analyzing the cartoon controversy, which has been a focus for attacking Muslims and Muslim countries as intolerant of Western ‘freedom of expression’ is the long-standing role of Denmark as a major operation point for Mossad activity in Europe. Re-phrased: How could a tiny Scandinavian country of 5.4 citizens and residents (200,000 or less than 3% of whom are Muslim), renowned for fairy tales, ham and cheese, have become a target for the fury of millions of practicing Muslims from Afghanistan to Palestine, from Indonesia to Libya and into the streets of cities all over the world with significant Muslim populations? Why, after the bombing of Baghdad, the tortures of Abu Ghariab, the massacres in Fallujah and the utter destitution of the entire Iraqi and Afghan people…would Moslems turn their anger at symbols of Denmark from its tinned cookies to its Embassies and overseas business offices?
The story, presented with straight faces, by television news-people, is of, Mr. ‘Flemming Rose’, a crusading cultural editor of a widely read Danish daily newspaper who wanted to counter the growing ‘political correctness’ of Europeans about criticizing Moslems and which he compared to the ‘self-censorship’ he had witnessed in his native Soviet Union. The oddly named Ukrainian-born editor of the culture page of the Jyllands-Posten commissioned Danish cartoonists to submit a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed as they (the Danish cartoonists) might imagine him. However four of the twelve cartoons selected for publication were illustrated by ‘Rose’s’ own staff including the most controversial ‘bomb in the turban’ one. Braving Denmark’s anti-blasphemy laws Mr. Rose published the cartoons on September 30, 2005 and the rest is history…
A huge world wide attack on the West’s “sacred right to free expression” erupted in the Moslem world with millions of shocked Europeans and North Americans rushing to defend their cherished freedoms in this ‘clash of civilizations’. Syria and Iran were prominently blamed for the stirring up of furious believers in the streets of Damascus and Teheran, Beirut and in the slums of Gaza. According to US Secretary Rice, "Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes and the world ought to call them on it." The Pakistani and Libyan authorities allied to the US fired on demonstrators killing and wounding scores while numerous religious leaders were arrested. The Western governments urged their Arab and Moslem allies to prevent more attacks on Danish products and property and blamed those unable to quell the fury with complicity and instigation. All of this was over a series of cartoons, or so we are told.
The cultural editor, ‘Flemming Rose’, who soon tired of being surrounded by a team of Danish police and security to protect him from assassination and missing his daily jogs through his tranquil Copenhagen neighborhood, chose to seek safe haven in Miami, Florida (rather than his native Ukraine) among the Cuban exiles, Israeli sayanim*(see footnote) and Mah Jong-playing retirees as the drama plays on.
Denmark Center of Mossad Activity
Why Denmark? Could this crudely manufactured controversy have been generated on the pages of any major London or New York paper? Who would wish to put Denmark at the center of this ‘clash of civilization’ – appearing as a script from some grade B Islamophobic thriller?
An interesting chapter in former Israeli Mossad agent, Victor J. Ostrovsky’s book, By Way of Deception (1990 St. Martin’s Press), outlines the close relationship between the workings of the Danish intelligence services and the Israeli Mossad over decades:
“The relationship between the Mossad and Danish intelligence is so intimate as to be indecent. But it is not the Mossad’s virtue that is compromised by the arrangement; it’s Denmark’s. And that’s because the Danish are under the mistaken impression that because they saved a lot of Jews in World War II, the Israelis are grateful and they can trust the Mossad.”
The Mossad has the capacity to monitor the entire population of Arabs and especially Palestinians (presumably including those with Danish citizenship) through their special relations with the Danes:
“…a Mossad man monitors “all Arabic and Palestinian-related messages(among Denmarks Arab community) coming into their (the Danish Civil Security Service)headquarters…an extraordinary arrangement for a foreign intelligence service.”
The Danish Intelligence officers’ high regard for their Israeli Mossad office mates is apparently not, according to Ostrovsky, reciprocated:
“The Mossad have such contempt for their Danish counterparts that they refer to them as ‘fertsalach’, the Hebrew term for a small burst of gas, a fart…they tell the Mossad everything they do.” Pp. 231-232
In return for their servility, the Danes get valuable ‘training’ from the Israelis:
Once every three years, Danish intelligence officials go to Israel for a seminar conducted by the Mossad”… which generates useful contacts for the Mossad “while perpetuating the notion that no organization deals with terrorism better than they (Mossad) do.”
In the wake of the US debacle in Iraq and the world’s resistance to a massive ‘preemptive military attack’ or economic and diplomatic embargo of Iran, which could send oil prices to over $100 a barrel, Israel needed to turn the war of ideas on its head. It would make sense that a campaign, aimed to further whip up justifications to attack countries like Iran and Syria (Israel’s current enemy du jour), would emanate from one of the US strongest European ally in the invasion and destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and whose national intelligence apparatus (so fondly known as ‘fertsalach’) would be eager to serve Israel’s interest.
Flemming ( or Flaming) Rose: Journalist with a cause
Given Mossad’s long-standing penetration of the Danish intelligence agencies, and their close working relations with the right wing media, it is not surprising that a Ukranian Jew, operating under the name of “Flemming Rose” with close working relations with the Israeli state (and in particular the far right Likud regime) should be the center of the controversy over the cartoons. “Rose’s” ties to the Israeli state antedate his well-know promotional “interview” with Daniel Pipes (2004), the notorious Arab-hating Zionist ideologue. Prior to being placed as a cultural editor of a leading right-wing Danish daily, from 1990 to 1995 “Rose” was a Moscow-based reporter who translated into Danish a self-serving auto-biography by Boris Yeltsin, godchild of the pro-Israeli, post-communist Russian oligarchs, most of whom held dual citizenship and collaborated with the Mossad in laundering illicit billions. Between 1996-1999 “Rose”, the journalist, worked the Washington circuit (traveling with Clinton to China) before returning to Moscow 1999-2004 as a reporter for Jyllands-Posten. In 2005 he became its cultural editor, despite few or any knowledge of the field and over the head of other Danish journalists on the staff. In his new position “Rose” found a powerful platform to incite and play on the growing hostility of conservative Danes to immigrants from the Middle East, particularly practicing Moslems. Using the format of an ‘interview’ he published Pipes’ virulent anti-Islamic diatribe, probably to “test the waters” before proceeding to the next stage in the Mossad strategy to polarize a West-East confrontation.
Political Context for Action
There is a great body of evidence demonstrating that Iraq war was largely a result of a massive disinformation campaign by civilian militarists in the Pentagon and US Zionists in and out of high places in the Pentagon and civil society, in coordination with the Israeli state, which wanted Iraq to be destroyed as a viable nation. There is no evidence that the major US oil corporations pressured Congress or promoted the war in Iraq or the current confrontation with Iran. There is plenty of evidence that they are very uneasy about the losses that may result from an Israeli attack on Iran.
The Zionist succeeded in their goals in Iraq: establishing a beachhead in the northern Kurdish enclave (‘Kurdistan’), and securing assets in the new “Iraqi” regime via Chalabi and others.
The major Jewish organizations mobilized to oppose any critics of the Zionist policymakers, predictably accusing them of ‘anti-Semitism’. Nevertheless, over time, FBI investigations, CIA reports and judicial indictments have pointed to key Israeli operatives and their domestic collaborators as Israeli spies. While Israel benefited from the Bush-Blair invasion in Iraq, the same cannot be said for the United States. As thousands of casualties mounted, and war spending skyrocketed to hundreds of billions of dollars, opposition to the war escalated.
Israeli strategic plans to extend US military operations to Iran and Syria faced major challenges, from within the US military and public and even sections of the mass media. Mossad assets in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and elsewhere had to settle for puff pieces on Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapon threat, right after the same plot with regard to Iraq was exposed as a total fabrication. Another line of propaganda was needed to silence war critics and heighten animosities to the Islamists/Arabs in general and Iran in particular. This is where the “Flemming Rose”-Mossad operation came into the picture. The Islamic-hate cartoons were published in Denmark in September 2005 as Israeli and US Zionists escalated their war propaganda against Iran. The initial response from the Islamic countries however was limited. The story wasn’t picked up in the International Herald Journal until late December 2005. By early January 2006, Mossad “Katsas” (Hebrew for case officers) activated sayanim (volunteer Jewish collaborators outside of Israel) throughout Western and Eastern European media to simultaneously reproduce the cartoons on Feb. 1 and 2, 1006. One such sayanim operation would have been the decision by France-Soir Senior Editor, Arnaud Levy and Editor in Chief Serge Faubert, to publish the cartoons. The paper’s French Egyptian owner almost immediately fired the paper’s Managing Editor, Jacques Lefranc, who, according to an interview with CNN, had initially opposed their publications, without touching Levy and Faubert.
A strident campaign was launched in practically all the pro-Western mass media condemning the initial, relatively moderate Islamic protests, which had occurred between September to December 2005 and rapidly provoked the subsequent massive escalation, doubtlessly aided by covert Mossad operatives among Arab populations. Mossad’s ‘little farts’, the Danish intelligence fanned the fires by advising Denmark’s rightwing Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen not to give way by refusing to apologize as the pro-Western Arab regimes requested and even refusing a request for a meeting with a group of Denmark-based diplomats from Arab and Moslem countries to discuss the ‘situation’.
“Flemming Rose”-Mossad tried one more gambit – to further heighten East-West tension. He publicly offered to publish any Iranian cartoons which would mock the Holocaust in ‘his’ paper’. The senior editor of Jyllands-Posten, apparently belatedly caught on to “Flemming Rose” hidden agenda and vetoed the ‘offer’ and asked Rose to take a leave of absence. Rose left for Miami, not Tel Aviv – where his residency might raise suspicions about his claim to be merely an opponent of “self-censorship”. In Miami, he no doubt will have the protection of the locally based sayanin, armed and train for “self-defense” of threatened Zionists.
Sayanim – Defenders of Western Civilization
The sayanim, derived, according to Victor Ostrovsky, from the Hebrew word ‘to help’ are a huge world-wide network of Jews in strategic or useful places (real estate, mass media, finance, car dealerships etc…) who have been agreed to help in Israeli Mossad actitivies within their own countries. This has been ascribed to the supra-national loyalty sayanim offer to Israel, above and not always in the interest of their home country. According to Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon, in their detailed biography, Robert Maxwell, Israel’s Superspy (Carroll and Graf Publishers, 2002), the notorious media mogul, Robert Maxwell, was a super-sayanim, providing cover, offices, political connections, money-laundering services and planted stories in the service of Israel at the Mossad’s beheast. Jonathan Pollard, the American Naval Researcher jailed for espionage, is another notorious sayanim. The activities of these ‘helpers’ really range from the spectacular to the more mundane and, according to Victor Ostrovsky, in his 1990 biography By Way of Deception, the sayanim represent a pool of thousands of active and inactive individuals who can provide services discretely out of loyalty to ‘the cause of Israel’ as defined by any current Mossad operation. The cynicism of this arrangement is clear: It makes little difference to the Mossad if an operation, such as ‘Flemming Rose’, jeopardizes the national and economic interests of the sayanim’s own country and , if exposed, might harm the status of Jews in the diaspora. The standard response from the Mossad would be: “So what’s the worst that could happen to those Jews? They’d all come to Israel? Great.” This recklessness clearly has ramifications for Jews who have refused to be recruited as Mossad helpers in affected countries.
Mossad War Propaganda and the “Cartoon Controversy”
Israeli leaders expressed their opposition to the Bush Administration’s diplomatic efforts to engage the European powers in the Iran negotiations. Automatically and without question all the major Zionist and Jewish organizations in the US (AIPAC, Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations, ADL and others) unleashed a sustained national campaign to mobilize congress and their “friends” in the executive branch to take immediate military action or to impose economic sanctions on Iran. The Bush Administration however while in agreement, lacked public support in the US and among his European allies and their national electorates. The Mossad policy was to create a pretext to polarize public opinion between the Middle East (and beyond) and the West in order to escalate tensions and demonize Islamic adversaries to its Middle East hegemonis pretensions. “Rose” cartoons served the Mossad perfectly. The issue could be presented as a free speech issue, a conflict of “values” not “interests”, between the “democratic West” and the fundamentalist “totalitarian” (as characterized by Pipes-Rose) Islamists. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rose had solicited and selected the Islamic caricatures while his paper had rejected similar cartoons of Jesus Christ in an earlier context. The image of Rose as a “cultural iconoclast” - while working for a right wing daily whose daily fare was publishing anti-(Mid-East)immigrant “news stories” and favorable interviews with Zionists extremists - is prima facie not credible, although that image has been purveyed by all the major media outlets. While “Rose” initiated the international tensions, liberal and neo-con colleagues and his comrades in and out of the Mossad publicized his transgressions and provoked the ire of the Arab and Islamic world.
The cartoons, the subsequent insults and calumnies attacking the Islamic protestors and their secular allies throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe eventually provoked major peaceful and then violent protests by millions of people. Visual images of violent protests and demonstrations were featured by the Western mass media, successfully creating the intended fear and apprehension against Muslim countries and minorities in Europe. Islamophobia gained momentum. Zionist propagandists in Europe and the US linked the defense of “free speech” issue to Israeli “security” policies. While the West turned its fury against the Islamic protestors, Israel blockaded Gaza and the US and Europe cut off all funding to the Palestinians, threatening the population with mass starvation for exercising its democratic right to elect its own leaders! “Rose’s” free speech charade revived the discredited ZionCon doctrine of “Clash of Civilizations”. Playing on European Islamophobia and the increasing sensibility of practicing Moslems and Arab nationalists to Western abuses, it is likely that Israeli psych-war experts pinpointed the “free speech” issue as the ideal detonator for the conflict.
The democratic electoral victory of Hamas – dubbed by Israel as a terrorist movement – accelerated Israeli efforts to convince Western governments to insist that regimes in Muslim countries repress the ‘irrational Islamic masses’ or face Western censure or elimination of aid. (The failure to crack down violently on demonstrators was presented by the media as official approval or instigation) The major US Zionist organizations were able to influence Secretary of State Rice into blaming Iran and Syria for fomenting the worldwide demonstrations, from Gaza to the Philippines. The Israeli strategy was to use European outrage to weaken opposition to a military attack or economic sanctions on Iran and Syria.
Beyond Religious Blasphemy
While most establishment analysts have narrowly focused on the cartoon as the source and target of the massive global demonstrations, in fact it is at best the immediate detonator of a whole series of ongoing events of much greater political significance. From the “shock and awe” carpet bombing of Iraq, to the mass torture and routine everyday humiliation in occupied countries, from the utter destruction of Fallujah (an American example as Guernica was for the Nazis), to Israeli devastation of Jenin and Palestine, from the everyday assassinations of Palestinians by the Israeli occupiers, to the smearing of the Koran with filth at Guantanamo, Israel, the US and Europe have attempted to demonstrate that no Moslems are safe anywhere- not in their schools, home, offices, fields, factories or mosques- and that nothing is sacred.
The reasons that millions are demonstrating against a caricature of Mohammed published in an insignificant Scandinavian rightwing newspaper is that this is the last straw – the detonator – of a series of deliberate violations of fundamental social and political rights of Muslim, Arab and colonized peoples. While the Western media have focused exclusively on the religious content of the demonstrators, almost every country, where massive sustained demonstrations have taken place, has been subject to recent Western intervention, large-scale pillage of raw materials and/or experienced the destruction of their secular rights: countries invaded, homes, schools, hospital, systems of health and clean water demolished, agriculture and natural resources looted, museums, libraries and archeological sites pillaged and mosques desecrated. The present condition for material existence has been a Western inferno for all the people (both secular and observant) living in Arab or Islamic countries. Now their most profound, historic, spiritual reference point, the prophet Mohammed – the most cherished religious figure – has been repeatedly trampled with impunity by arrogant imperialists, their media servants, aided and abetted by the Israeli state and its overseas ‘sayanin’ operatives. It is cynical to suggest that practicing Moslems could desecrate the figure of Jesus Christ with impunity when that too is forbidden by the Koran.
As the Israeli strategists well knew in advance, the vilification of Islam was not taking place in a political vacuum: The material conditions for an Islamic-Arab uprising were ripe: Hamas had swept the Palestinian elections, the US military were aware that they were losing the war in Iraq, Iran was refusing to capitulate, Bush was losing public support for ongoing and future Middle Eastern wars, AIPAC, Israel’s main political instrument for influencing US policy was under criminal investigation…Israel’s strategy of having the US fight its wars was boomeranging. There was a need to revive the political-military tensions which they had exploited after September 11, 2001 to Israel’s advantage: hence the “Flemming Rose” provocation, hence the coordinated, wide promotion of the act, hence the free speech agitation among Western ‘sayanin’, liberals, conservatives and neocon ideologues, hence the predictable explosion of protest, hence the ‘recreation’ of Mid-East tension…and the advances of Israel’s agenda.
Clearly the burgeoning confrontation is more than a religious or free speech issue, more than the crude provocations of an errant cultural editor coddled by the ‘little farts’ of a penetrated Danish intelligence agency. What is at stake is the deliberate racist stereotyping of Arab, Islamic and Third World people in order to sustain and deepen their oppression, exploitation and subordination.
The most pervasive, prolific and influential source of racist Arab stereotypes are Israel and its overseas (particularly US and European) academics, terror ‘experts’, psychologists at the most prestigious universities and think tanks, who have provided the “psychological profile” to torture, humiliate, provoke and repress the millions struggling for self-determination against colonial and imperial dominance.
Once again Israel and especially its overseas operatives have placed the expansion and militarist interests of Israel above the interests of the people of the US and Europe. “Is it good for the Jews?”: A criterion as defined by the Israeli state, has led to the blind alley of massive confrontations, deepening animosity between Arabic/Muslim peoples and Western regimes. What appeared so clever to the ‘Roses’ of the world and their Katsas and docile Sayanim, in provoking confrontation may once again boomerang: The uprisings may go beyond protesting symbols of vilification to attacking the substance of power, including the Arab and Moslem pro-consuls and collaborators of the Euro-American political and economic power. While the Mossad is very astute in infiltrating and provoking oppressed groups, it has been singularly inept in controlling and containing the resultant uprisings as the recent victory of Hamas demonstrates and the success of the Iraqi resistance illustrates. The next controversial cartoon may show Moses leading his people into the desert.
While the Mossad-provoked ‘free speech versus blasphemy’ controversy between the West and the Islamic peoples continues to deepen, Israel proceeds to impose a Nazi-like economic siege over 4 million Palestinians, intended to starve them into surrendering their democratic freedoms. Intended is the concise term, Gideon Levy, star reporter for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz (19/02/06) records Dov Weissglas, advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister, jokingly telling top officials “Its (the economic blockage – which may include electricity and water, as well as food) like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner but won’t die.” The Israeli officials “rolled with laughter”. As Levy points out “more than half of all Palestinians are already living in poverty…last year 37% had difficulties obtaining food… 54% of the residents of Gaza cut back the amount of food they consume…child mortality rose by 15%…unemployment reached 28%.” Planned pre-meditated mass starvation of a ghettoized population, jokingly discarded by its executioners as a ‘visit to the dietician’, is an exact replica of the internal policy discussion of the Nazi high command over the population in the Warsaw Ghetto. Israel’s capacity to impose and implement a genocidal policy has been greatly facilitated by the symbolic sideshow, which the Mossad-‘Rose’ orchestrated in Western Europe. “Cultural” conflict at the service of genocide – is hardly a clever ruse or merely a violation of Islamic sensibilities, it is a crime against humanity.