Sunday, March 8, 2009


A Press Briefing With Robert Wood, Spokesman for the State Department.
Link Here
QUESTION: A new topic? On Gaza, there have been some reports that the United States is quite displeased with the Israeli government about the amount of goods that the Israeli government is allowing into Gaza. For instance, they’re making such restrictions on dual use that is kind of arbitrary and not necessarily in line with what the humanitarian needs are in Gaza. Can you say what, at this point, the State Department assessment of the amount of aid that’s going into Gaza right now?

MR. WOOD: I’m not prepared here to give you an assessment of the type of aid that’s going in, but we have --

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the level of aid?

MR. WOOD: Well, look, the situation on the ground there, as you know, is very complicated. And what we have been trying to do is ensure that, you know, humanitarian assistance gets to the people of Gaza. We will continue to try to do that, but as I said, it’s complicated. And we have had discussions with the Israelis about the situation. Other countries have, as well. And we’ll continue to push to get as much in the way of humanitarian supplies into Gaza as we can. It’s the best assessment I can give you.

QUESTION: Well, just one example that is (inaudible) on the press that the Israelis are not letting pasta into Gaza, only rice, because that’s a humanitarian – because that’s only on their humanitarian things. Do think that all food and medicine should be allowed into Gaza right now?

MR. WOOD: Well, look, there are a number of players on the ground trying to deal with the humanitarian situation. I, from the podium here, can’t tell you whether, you know, pasta should fall into a specific category – into that category of humanitarian assistance or not. But what we’re trying to do is to make sure that the supplies that –

QUESTION: Well, apparently, U.S. officials have been complaining about this particular example. So, I mean, I’m just saying, like, shouldn’t all food and medicine be allowed into Gaza at this point? I mean, is that really a -- even a question about dual use?

MR. WOOD: What we want to see get into Gaza are humanitarian supplies that, you know -- that the Gazan -- the people of Gaza need. I can’t give you an assessment of, you know, whether all of these things are absolutely necessary to meet the humanitarian needs of the Gazan people. That’s better left to those international organizations and NGOs, you know, who are in the area trying to work on this issue. I just can’t make that kind of determination.

QUESTION: Do you think that Israel should be tying the amount of aid and supplies getting into Gaza to the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit? Because as you know, the -- some people in Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s staff have complained that this – that aid is being used as a political tool.

MR. WOOD: Well, it’s not for me, from the podium here, to engage in these types of -- on these issues. I mean, this is --

QUESTION: Well, should aid -- you don’t -- you can’t say whether you think aid should be used as a political weapon?

MR. WOOD: Well, aid should never be used a political weapon. But again, I’m not engaged in those discussions that are going on with regard to, you know, the opening of the borders and with regard to the ceasefire. Those are decisions that will have to be made at an appropriate time. I’m not able to do that from here.

QUESTION: Well, but I mean, do you think that the ceasefire is being honored? I mean, obviously, there have been complaints that Hamas is not honoring the ceasefire. But is Israel honoring the ceasefire in terms of allowing the aid and – under their obligations? Are they meeting their obligations?

MR. WOOD: Well, I’m not able to give you that kind of assessment from here. But my understanding is, is that there are discussions going on amongst a wide variety of parties with equities with regard to this conflict, and they are trying to bring about, you know, a durable ceasefire. They’re trying to make sure that the, you know, humanitarian supplies reach those who need them in Gaza. I just can’t give you that kind of assessment at this point. It’s a very complex situation on the ground, and that’s something we have to be aware of.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. WOOD: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: No, go ahead.

MR. WOOD: No, I was just going to say – and you have to understand that because it’s complex and there are a number of parties working on it, that you’re not going to get – necessarily get immediate results. But we’re going to continue to push, as I said, to get humanitarian supplies in to the people of Gaza.

QUESTION: But can you imagine any circumstance under which pasta could be considered a dual-use item? Or is there some -- you know, is rigatoni somehow going to be used as a weapon? (Laughter.)

MR. WOOD: I’m not involved in those discussions, so I –

QUESTION: Well, I mean -- I mean, it just seems to be absurd on the face of it, if that’s what happening.

MR. WOOD: Well, there are people on the ground who are dealing with these issues. And I think we should leave it --

QUESTION: Dealing with the pasta dual-use issue?

QUESTION: Yeah, can you take a question on the pasta, please?

MR. WOOD: I’m not going to take the question on the pasta --


MR. WOOD: -- because it’s –

QUESTION: Well, the United States is obviously pushing it, so obviously it’s something --

MR. WOOD: We’re trying to get humanitarian supplies in – on the ground to the people in Gaza.

QUESTION: Do you think food is a humanitarian supply?

MR. WOOD: Food certainly is.

QUESTION: All kinds of food?

MR. WOOD: I – I’m not able to tell you from here whether it –

QUESTION: Can you get a – can you take the question of what kind of food that the U.S. thinks is a humanitarian supply?

MR. WOOD: I’m not going to take that question, because I don’t think it’s a legitimate question.

QUESTION: You don’t think it’s legitimate that the Palestinians need certain foods and is – should Israel decide what food the Palestinians need?

MR. WOOD: I’m sorry, Elise, I’m not going to – I’ve spoken on it.


Bar Kochba said...

YA, when has a country ever fed its enemies? To feed genocidal murderers is just suicidal.

Why don't you demand that Hamas free Gilad Shalit? Hamas is in violation of international human rights agreements by holding Shalit hostage without allowing him Red Cross access or even to confirm that he is still alive. Why don't you once protest crimes and attacks against Jews, or just shut up?

nindee said...

So tired to defend your apartheid and racist Israel, now your best effort is "just shut up"? Gilad Shalit is a soldier. Israel jailed thousands of civilian, some of them under age for years. Check Btselem.

People don't buy those propagandas anymore. Go find another one.

Bar Kochba said...

Civilians? You mean terrorist operative and their supporters.

nindee said...

Civilian. I mean, men, women and children. Same human. Who have same basic human rights. Like freedom and homes and security. Just like you and me,BK.

Young Activist said...

This is in response to the recent comments of both Bar and Paul.
You might have noticed I haven't been commenting on your blogs anymore. Really its because I've gotten tired of it. I started reading your blogs in order to try to understand your viewpoint. I posted to try to understand your reasoning. I have come to understand both. The issues where we disagree are moral issues, not factual ones. Of course there are factual disputes, Paul you appear to know nothing about the Middle East, and you have a habit of dismissing facts that undermine your viewpoint as conspiracy theories even when they are widely acknowledged. Bar, you are better read in the sense that you have read the propaganda, Kahane and his successors I'm imagining based on the similarities in your arguments, but you also appear totally disengaged from reality. In both cases your conception reality is formed around your preconceived fantasy of the way the world is. Your worldviews were conceived before you knew anything of the world. There are different names for it, but it always comes back to tribalism. Your group is always right and superior to others. In your case Bar this means Jews, you are a Jewish supremacist in the same sense that KKK members are white supremacists. You have just said that the people of Gaza are your enemies and that starving them is the appropriate response. It is you who are genocidal, but in your narrow worldview Jews cannot commit genocide, your tribe is inherently right. Its like the Hutus who deny there was a genocide in Rwanda. Paul you call yourself a libertarian, and when at home I am sure this is true. I am sure you oppose racism and supremacist within your own country. You are a nationalist, your country is your immediate tribe and other "western" countries are part of your broader tribe. There is no contradiction between advocating tolerance within your tribe and intolerance without it. An Arab nationalist, for example, might simultaneously promote religious tolerance among Arabs and intolerance towards Iranians. There is little point in debating with you, facts are only relevant if they support your preconceived position. At its core this is a moral issue, and that's not something where anyone's mind will be changed. Some people will always value all human life and some will only value the lives of those who have the same skin color, faith, or citzenship as they do.

I don't mean to sound like I'm attacking you personally, just trying to explain where I'm coming from. I'm sure you have a better, although likely less objective, idea of your thought process so let me know if I'm missing something. I have no tribe, my tribe is humanity. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians are part of my tribe. I am just as troubled by what has happened to Gilad Shalit as I am by what is being done to hundreds of Palestinian children. I see how you could think that I only talk about humanitarian problems created by America or enabled by American support because I have something against these groups as this seems to be what you have done from the opposite side. But I am an American, how could I be anti-American? Unlike you I don't talk about these problems because I don't like the group the people causing them belong to, I talk about them because I would like to change them. I am troubled by what is being done in Tibet, Darfur, and Congo just as much as I am troubled by what is going on in Palestine and Iraq. But I am an American. Atrocities enabled by America are the atrocities I can address.

These are political problems they must be addressed politically. Looking at the political situation in Palestine, one side is powerful the other is powerless, one side is occupied the other is the occupier. "War is the terrorism of the powerful, terrorism is the war of the powerless". Nothing happens in a vacuum. The Palestinian violence (which unlike Israeli violence is not repetitive of the populace, is much less common, and stems from frustration and destitution, not racism) you complain so loudly about is part of a broader cycle of violence in which the initial and ongoing act is the dispossession and occupation of the Palestinian people. Even if you don't care about Arab life, the only way to stop Palestinian violence is to address its root cause. Go look at the peace proposal voted on every year in the U.N General Assembly, Israel withdraws to its internationally recognized borders, Palestinians renounce all claims to those lands, mutual recognition and a just settlement of the refugee issue follow. It always passes the General Assembly by a huge margin. It has been endorsed by the PLO, the PA, Fatah, Hamas, the entire Arab League, the Israeli left, and the entire world with the exception of the U.S, Israel, Australia, and some coral atolls in the south Pacific. It should be very clear who the obstacles to peace are. Anyone who wants to change the status qua needs to look at those who are perpetuating it, in the case Israel backed uncritically by the U.S.

I don't have anything against Israelis like you do against Palestinians. I talk about Israel's atrocities because, from a pragmatic and political perspective, that will be the only way for the issue to be resolved, if America loosens its uncritical support for Israel.

Look up Israel on Amnesty International's website. Look at Btselem's website. And please stop repeating this bullshit about self defense, even Israeli officials (not the spokesmen you parrot, actual officials) openly acknowledge this. Listen to Norman Finkelstein's recent lecture at DePaul on the topic, but don't take his word for it listen to Israel's internal debate. Listen to what Lieberman says, listen to what Barak says, listen to what Olmert says, listen to what the generals say, but listen to what they say in Hebrew for domestic consumption, not what they say to the U.S media. Listen to Tamar Yonah, see what the dialog among Israeli is. Read Ha'aretz. Just get an education, you make yourself look like an idiotic bigot when you parrot the spokesmen. Not even the Israelis take their spokespeople seriously.

Bar Kochba said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Young Activist said...

A civil tone is important to debate. Personal attacks will be deleted. Like the Kahane quote you lifted "those who can't debate defame". That's probably the only thing Kahane ever said that I agree with. I know you are well aware of his ideology, but for the sake of others here, especially the "libertarians" among us, who are not so familiar here are some other quotes from your idol. I wonder if you feel as strongly about these as you do about his supremacism.

"Democracy and Judaism are two opposite things. One absolutely cannot confuse them. The objective of a democratic state is to allow a person to do exactly as he wishes. The objective of Judaism is to serve God and to make people better. These are two totally opposite conceptions of life"

"Western democracy has to be ruled out. For me that's cut and dried: there's no question of setting up democracy in Israel, because democracy means equal rights for all, irrespective of racial or religious origins"

"Let me tell you what the minimal borders are, and which the rabbis agree upon, according to the description given in the Bible. The southern boundary goes up to El Arish, which takes in all of northern Sinai, including Yamit. To the east, the frontier runs along the western part of the East Bank of the Jordan river, hence part of what is now Jordan. Eretz Yisrael also includes part of the Lebanon and certain parts of Syria, and part of Iraq, all the way to the Tigris river."
and to this end
"There will be a perpetual war."

"I’d offer financial compensation for those who want to leave the country voluntarily. I would only use force for those who don’t want to leave. I’d go all the way, and they know that... I’m going to hold the bridges on the Jordan river; we’ll hold them for two weeks. We’ll evacuate the Arabs and let Jordan go to the United Nations."

"And I approve of anybody who commits such acts of violence. Really, I don’t think that we can sit back and watch Arabs throwing rocks at buses whenever they feel like it. They must understand that a bomb thrown at a Jewish bus is going to mean a bomb thrown at an Arab bus"
כהנא צדק Have you ever heard that phrase in Israel Bar? It is usually accompanied by chants of "death to Arabs"

Anyways Bar, if you'd like to repost your comments without the personal attacks than please feel free to do so.

nindee said...

from my blog :

"Might I ask you who is occupying these territories? To whom does this territory belong under international law? Is it the property of a sovereign state?"

"Nindee, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled voluntarily at the behest of invading Arabs armies. They were told that they would return once Israel was defeated. Many Israeli mayors actually pleaded with them not to flee! For 60 years, their Arab "brethren" have kept them in refugee camps to be used as pawns against Israel. Never did they settle them in their own land to end their suffering.

On the other hand, in 1948, close to a million Sephardic Jews from Arab countries in which they had lived for thousands of years were expelled. They lost billions of dollars in property. Israel, although the amount of refugees was practically equal to Israel's population at that time, accepted them. They did not allow them to languish in camps but now they are integral part of the state.

The Jews have relinquished their right to return to their original countries. The Arabs should do the same as well. Don't justify bombing civilians in Sderot and Ashkelon by whining about "refugees"."

"This article is based on complete historical revisionism. It is the product of living in a fantasy world.

Your portrayal of Israel as a colonial power is absurd. Living in the United States, you must be aware that your country is built on the ruins of what was Indian territory. Every single country in the Americas exists because the European settlers dispossessed the native Amerindians. Yet, nobody dares suggest that these countries are somehow illegitimate. On the other hand, the Jews are the indigenous people of Israel and are constantly having their right to their land challenged by Islamic and Western imperialists.

The territory that today occupies Israel was purchased legally by the Jewish National Fund and various Jewish organization, during the times of the first aliyot. Jews had a constant presence in Israel since biblical times and began to return en masse in the 18th century. No Arabs (ARABS --- the term "Palestinian" did not exist yet to refer to any people) were displaced. Rather, the early Zionists purchased the land from the landlord effendis and settled the land, legally and legitimately. During the war of Independence, hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled, at the behest of the invading Arab armies, and were promised that they would be allowed to return once the Jews had been killed. Israel belongs to the Jewish people, according to every political, historic and religious right. To paint the Jews as colonialists in their native land is absurd. The Arabs have 22 states- the Jews have one tiny strip of land, consisting of less than 1% of the land in the Middle-East. The real colonists and occupiers are the Arabs squatters on Jewish land.

It is an abuse of history to claim that the Arabs have endured unimaginable horrors during the past 60 years. Over a million Arabs are equal citizens in the state of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle-East. They enjoy more rights than their brethren in neighbouring countries. Nowhere else can Arab women vote, hold office or can Arabs freely express their opinions.

This is not a battle over land. Hamas is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. Fatah has the same long-term goal but wants to use a two-state "solution" as a Trojan horse. Israel has offered the Arabs peace many times before. As Abba Eban said, the Arabs never miss and opportunity to miss an opportunity. In 2000, Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat 95% of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with joint sovereignty over Jerusalem. The Saudi Crown Prince told him that it would be a crime if he refused! Of course, Arafat walked away, not content that Israel exist.

Israel came into possession of Judea and Samaria, its biblical homeland, after liberating them in 1967. When in history has a winning nation been expected to return land conquered in a defensive war? 6 Arabs nations invaded Israel! When the Egyptians ruled Gaza and the Jordanians ruled Judea and Samaria, never was there any talk of "Palestinian" nationalism. Their occupation was illegal under international law as that land had been promised to the Jews under the Mandate for Palestine! A two-state solution already exists, with "Palestinians" making up over 2/3 of the population of Jordan. Israel cannot be divided up any further. Withdrawing from Judea and Samaria would put Israel back at what Abba Eban famously dubbed "the Auschwitz borders", since they are indefensible.

The sides in this battle are clear. Israel, a democratic nation, is faced with a genocidal murderous enemy, Hamas which is a proxy of Iran, led by a Holocaust-denying madman who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the map. On one side stands Western civilization, life, freedom while on the other stands the forces of Islamic barbarism and hatred. Israel is the proverbial canary in the coal mine but the same hatred has manifested itself in NY on 9/11, on the London Tube, in Bali, and in Mumbai. It always begins with the Jews, but it never ends with the Jews."

Sounds familiar.

nindee said...

And by the way, I don't even live in United States. I live in Indonesia. He forgot to change the state before posted it.
That's why I can't take him seriously.