lunes, 2 de febrero de 2015


McCain: Israel-U.S. ties have never been worse than under Obama

Republican senator says Obama had 'very unrealistic expectations about the degree of cooperation that he would get from Israel.'

Feb. 2, 2015 | 1:58 AM 

Sen. John McCain
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., bangs the gavel to start the committee's hearing to examine global challenges and US national security strategy, Jan. 21, 2015. Photo by AP

Senator John McCain told CNN on Sunday that ties between the U.S. and Israel have never been worse than under the Obama administration.
Speaking on "State of the Union," McCain asserted that Obama “had very unrealistic expectations about the degree of cooperation that he would get from Israel, particularly on the Palestinian issue as well as on the nuclear issue with Iran.”
While the relationship between the U.S. and Israel has not always been excellent, McCain said, "any observer would argue they’ve never been worse.”
“I’m not putting the entire blame on the president of the United States, but I will say this: No other president has had such a difficult relationship with the state of Israel since it became a country,” the Arizona Republican said according to The Washington Times.
He called the deteriorating ties "a tragedy" because Israel is "the only functioning democracy in the entire Middle East.”
McCain's statements were made on the backdrop of acrisis in the U.S.-Israeli relations, sparked by an invitation extended by House Speaker John Boehner to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress next month on the issue of the nuclear talks with Iran. The invitation was extended – and accepted – without coordination with the White House.
McCain told CNN that he would have discussed such an invitation with the White House in advance, but added that he wasn't surprised by Boehner's actions considering his strained relationship with Obama.
“Obviously we would want everybody to work together, but there’s a real crisis going on, and that is that these negotiations with Iran, which many of us believe are already fatally flawed, that the speaker felt the overriding concern was to have him appear before the American people and tell them about the dangers of a very bad agreement with Iran on nuclear weapons,” McCain said.
'Congress speech may backfire'
Meanwhile, former Secretary of State James Baker said on CBS News' "Face of the Nation" that the Congress speech may "backfire" on Netanyahu in the upcoming election.
Baker said that while Boehner has the right to invite anyone he wants to speak to the House, "it's best done, our foreign policy is best conducted when there's at least cooperation between the legislative and the executive branches."
Baker drew a parallel between the current crisis and Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's "trouble managing the U.S. relationship" in the early '90s.
Asked whether the tension could hurt Netanyahu's chances in the election, Baker said "it has the potential to backfire, just as it backfired on Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir back there in 1990 or 1991, when he was challenged by Yitzhak Rabin, and Rabin won, but primarily because Shamir was not seen to be able to manage the relationship with the United States properly." 
Senator Dick Durbin said on the show that Boehner's decision to invite Netanyahu without consulting the White House was "a mistake."
"I don't want to show any weakness in terms of our commitment to Israel," the Illinois Democrat said. "But some of my closest friends in the United States who support Israel have described this Boehner strategy as a disaster. I hope we can find a way to stabilize the situation quickly and take the politics out of it." 
According to a recent report, Netanyahu has been lobbying Democratic leaders to tone down their critique of his invitation to speak before Congress, with the U.S. legislators responding that he should reconsider the move, which could do damage to Israel.


“I had an abysmal feeling that I was evil” -- interviews with Israeli soldiers, recorded just weeks after the conclusion of the 1967 war, come out in a new documentary.
Amos Oz revisits interviews with soldiers he recorded almost 50 years ago in ‘Censored Voices.’Photo by Dogwoof / JTA

'Censored Voices' film tears apart Israel's heroic narrative of Six-Day War

In the wake of the 1967 war, Israel’s victorious soldiers were lionized as heroes; but many didn't feel that way, a new documentary shows.

Feb. 2, 2015 | 4:38 AM

(JTA) — In the wake of Israel’s seemingly miraculous triumph in the Six-Day War in 1967, the country’s victorious soldiers were lionized as heroes.
But in private, even just one week after the conflict, many of them didn’t feel that way. One describes feeling sick to his stomach in battle and collapsing into a trench.
“I wanted to be left alone,” he says. “I didn’t think of the war.”
Another talks about watching an old Arab man evacuated from his house.
“I had an abysmal feeling that I was evil,” the soldier says.
The voices come from tapes made just weeks after the war’s conclusion and now presented, some of them for the first time, in the powerful new documentary “Censored Voices,” which premiered Jan. 24 at the Sundance Film Festival here.
Piece by piece and story by story, they tear apart the heroic narrative of Israel’s great victory in favor of something far messier, more chaotic and more human.
“It was a sadness that could only be felt in the kibbutz because we were living so close to each other,” Shapira recalls in the film.
Traveling from kibbutz to kibbutz with a borrowed reel-to-reel tape recorder, Shapira and Oz convinced fellow veterans to open up about their feelings, their memories and their misgivings from the war. But when they moved to publish what they had gathered, the Israeli government censored 70 percent of the material. Shapira published the remaining 30 percent in his book “The Seventh Day: Soldiers’ Talk about the Six-Day War.”
Now, thanks to the efforts of director Mor Loushy, who convinced Shapira to give her access to the tapes, all of the soldiers’ stories can be heard. Films in Israel can be subject to censorship, but according to producer Hilla Medalia, “We were able to release the film as we wanted it.”
The voices from the tapes are combined to great effect with archival footage, photographs, contemporary news accounts and film of the now-aged veterans to tell the story of the war and its aftermath.
What emerges is a vivid portrait of the war as it was lived by those who fought in it. In the tradition of soldier’s-eye narratives like “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Red Badge of Courage,” the movie allows the soldiers to depict themselves as confused, selfishly afraid, often stupefied by the sight of death and dying, and morally troubled when they encounter the enemy as fellow humans.
Conflicting emotions
There is little doubt that prior to the war, the soldiers saw the build-up of hostile Arab forces on their borders as an existential threat.
“There was a feeling it would be a Holocaust,” one says.
Yet once the battle was joined, the soldiers find themselves besieged by a welter of conflicting emotions. They watch their comrades die. They feel terror. They find themselves killing.
“I was impressed at the calmness with which I was shooting,” says one veteran, recalling himself gunning down Egyptian soldiers. “I felt like I was at an amusement park.”
The veterans also graphically describe multiple instances of Israeli soldiers — including themselves — shooting unarmed soldiers and civilians.
“Several times we captured guys, positioned them and just killed them,” one veteran recalls.
They also recall the shock and anguish of being forced to confront the humanity of the men they were killing. One tells of sorting through the papers of a dead Egyptian officer and finding a picture of his two children on the beach. Another recounts captured Egyptian soldiers pleading for water and mercy, and frightened teenage soldiers who soil their pants. One watches Arab families carrying their belongings from Jericho and thinks of his own family fleeing the Holocaust.
Even the recapture of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall evokes mixed feelings far from the iconic images of conquering soldiers weeping for joy. One participant says that when a shofar blows at the wall, it “sounded like a pig’s grunt.” Others are troubled by the sense that they are conquering not soldiers in the Old City but civilians in their homes.
“It wasn’t a freed city, it was an occupied city,” one says.
It is that sense of occupation and displacement of Palestinian natives — that Israel was not merely defending itself, but acting as a conqueror — that troubles the soldiers.
“I was convinced the war was just. It was about our existence,” one says. “But then it became something else.”
There is so much raw, varied and shocking material in the movie that parts can easily be wielded or attacked to serve particular political arguments. But the film is courageous enough to embrace contradictions and leave them unresolved. It offers an unflinching look at Israeli atrocities without being unpatriotic or anti-Zionist, recounting the horrors of the war without suggesting that Israel should have refused to fight it. It is critical of the Israeli occupation, yet doesn’t claim to offer answers.
“This film is about listening,” producer and co-writer Daniel Sivan puts it after the screening.
At the end of the film, Oz, now 78, is asked what he thinks of the tapes.
“I feel we spoke truth,” he replies.