Council for the National Interest

President Bush : AWOL (Again) in Gaza

The Bush Administration has been A.W.O.L. when it comes to being an effective peacemaker between 4 million Palestinians and 6 million Israelis. Having locked itself into the untenable position of rejecting the results of the Hamas election six months ago in Palestine, the administration and Israel now find themselves facing a full-scale insurgency. Both countries have only a military solution. Several times in the past five years spokespersons for the administration have said that there is no military solution to the confrontation between Israel and Palestine. 

Collective Punishment Will Not Work

“As usual, most of the American press docily followed the official line from Israel and Washington that the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier a week ago was unprovoked. The fact is that the assassination of a Hamas government official was the proximate cause of the kidnapping. The assassinated official, Jamal Abu Samhadana, was the head of the Popular Resistance Committees, an organization on the terrorist list of the United States and Israel. He was apparently brought into the Hamas-led Interior Ministry to head the police forces in Gaza.” Eugene H. Bird served with the United States Foreign Service for 23 years and is President of the Council for the National Interest. 

Politics of Starvation: the Humanitarian Crisis in Palestine

The continuing obstruction of mobility by the IDF, forced upon not only Palestinian civilians but international aid workers as well, has dramatically increased the unemployment rate and prevented food and foreign aid to reach the civilian population in the Palestinian territories. With the poverty rate in Gaza alone now standing at a staggering 67% and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimating that 51% of Palestinians cannot meet their daily food needs, how will the Palestinians survive? 

Ehud Olmert, Unreasonably Reasonable?

The Palestinian ambassador Afif Safieh, since his arrival in Washington several months ago, has often used the line “We Palestinians have been unreasonably reasonable” in the approach to retrieving their land for achieving peace. Was Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his appearance before a joint session of Congress unreasonably reasonable in suggesting that negotiations could go forward because he was willing to give up some of his dream of having all of the Holy Land? Well, maybe. Yesterday’s speech by Olmert was the sixth time that an Israeli head of government has been given the honor of appearing before a joint session of Congress in the last thirty years. 

House Passes Anti-Palestinian Legislation, Senate Fight Continues

The House of Representatives today passed a controversial bill (H.R. 4681) that would punish all Palestinians, not just members of Hamas, for electing a Hamas-led government in January’s legislative elections. The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 passed the House under suspension of the rules by a vote of 361-37 (with 9 members voting “Present”), despite nearly four months of strong opposition from the Council for the National Interest and other national organizations, including Churches for Middle East Peace, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans for Peace Now, and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. 

A Letter to AIPAC

During my nineteen years serving in elected office, including the past five years as a Member of Congress, never has my name and reputation been maligned or smeared as it was last week by a representative of AIPAC. Last Friday, during a call with my chief of staff, an AIPAC representative from Minnesota who has frequently lobbied me on behalf of your organization stated, “on behalf of herself, the Jewish community, AIPAC, and the voters of the Fourth District, Congresswoman McCollum’s support for terrorists will not be tolerated.” Ironically, this individual, who does not even live in my congressional district, feels free to speak for my constituents. 

Pro-Israel Congressional Spokesmen Rethinking Democratization

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the pro-Israel chairman of the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, scheduled a hearing today to discuss the annual request for military and economic aid to Egypt, and those attending came away with the impression that the top Zionists of the subcommittee were changing their minds about the usefulness of promoting democracy in the Middle East. For the last several decades, the US has supported aid to Egypt as a way to promote democratization of its civil institutions. 

CNI calls on U.S. to deal with new democratic forces in Middle East

A delegation from the Council for the National Interest that participated as international observers to the recent Palestinian elections and met with government and opposition figures in six Middle East countries called yesterday on President Bush and his administration to deal honestly and openly with the new Islamist opposition that has been brought to power by democratic means in several Middle East countries. The members of the delegation, including two ambassadors, were among the firstAmericanretired foreign service officers to meet with Hamas leaders Mahmoud al-Zahar and Khaled Meshaal, whom they described as eager to talk to American officials ,and even to reach a peace with Israel. “There seems to be a lack of dialogue with leaders in the Middle East,” said CNI President Eugene Bird in a public hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday morning. “Many U.S. diplomats are not talking to people they should be, and this has been shocking for us to see this.” 

AIPAC Defense Attorneys Strike Back

The presiding judge in the AIPAC espionage case has ruled in a hearing on pre-trial motions that the prosecution can withold certain evidence from defense attorneys because it is in the national interest to do so. The evidence is reported to include hundreds of hours of wiretaps taken over the course of the six year investigation of the Israel lobby. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis said that he will decide which prosecution evidence the defense should be given access to, and since that is likely to be a lengthy process, he has delayed the trial’s start date from January 2nd to April 25th. U.S. foreign policy on the Middle East has become a revolving door between the lobby and the three major policymakers, the Pentagon, the Department of State, and the national security council. 

CNI Public Hearing: "Dual Occupations, Dual Jeopardy"

The links between the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights were emphasized in a September 26th public hearing sponsored by the Council for the National Interest at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington DC. The speakers were Kevin Zeese, Director of Democracy Rising and a candidate for U.S Senate in Maryland; Phyllis Bennis, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies; and Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement.