Saturday, May 22, 2010

Why the U.S. and Israel are such good friends

Why the U.S. and Israel are such good friends....
By Carmen Yarrusso

May 21, 2010,

Many Americans wonder why we continue to give Israel 3 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars every year instead of spending those billions on our own needy. Many Americans wonder why we give Israel billions more in bunker-busting bombs, Apache attack helicopters armed with TOW missiles, and other such advanced weapons. Many Americans wonder why we always thwart UN resolutions against Israel’s actions even when those actions unambiguously violate international law. In short, many Americans wonder why the U.S. and Israel are such inseparably good friends.

Why? Because the U.S. and Israel have so much in common. Who in the U.S. doesn’t love knishes or latkes? The U.S. and Israel are two peas in a pod.

Both nations worship the AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee), which functions as a heavenly messenger between two very good friends. Israel tells the AIPAC exactly what it wants and the AIPAC tells members of Congress to grant it unquestioned (if they’d like to keep their jobs).

Both nations obviously share the same deep moral values. For example, both agree on the moral way to take out a terrorist cleric in a wheelchair (TOW missile launched from an Apache helicopter, duh!). It wouldn’t be right to walk up and shoot a cripple in the head (sincere apologies to those within 50 feet of the wheelchair).

Both nations demonize “terrorists” who use suicide bombers (not just to kill, but to terrorize). Sure, the U.S. and Israel often recklessly kill innocent people (hey, shit happens), but they don’t stoop to terror (apparently being stalked by Apache helicopters or Predator drones that can blow you away any second, before you can even detect them, has a soothing effect on one’s mind).

But the most significant thing the U.S. and Israel have in common (what binds them like brothers) is the way both nations were created. The U.S. and Israel followed a strikingly similar path in establishing their respective nations.

A little history

The major problem establishing both the U.S. and Israel as nations was what to do with the indigenous people. So it was only natural for Israel to go to its new friend, the U.S., and ask, “How did you handle your indigenous people? Since we share the same deep moral values, we want to treat our indigenous people the same way.” Realizing they had so much in common, the two nations became fast friends.

The first thing needed to establish a nation is land. Unfortunately for both the U. S. and Israel, the land they needed was already occupied by people who had lived on and worked that land for centuries. But fortunately for both emerging nations, neither the Native Americans nor the Palestinians were particularly well armed.

At first, both the U.S. and Israel tried to politely reason with their respective indigenous people. Both nations said something like, “Yes, you’ve worked this land for many centuries and consider it your home, but could you please pack up your shit and move someplace else because we need your land.” How much more polite and reasonable can a request be?

In both cases, the indigenous people were clearly informed that God had given us their land. You’d think any reasonable Palestinian would say, “Oh, God gave you this land, why didn’t you say so, just let me take a last look at the fields I’ve worked all my life, and at the olive groves my great, great grandfather planted, and I’m out of here.”

But instead (just like the stubborn Native Americans) the Palestinians got all pissy and indignant (just because Israel was blatantly stealing their land using military force). Clearly, some ethnic groups are just a little too sensitive. Just like the stubborn Native Americans, many Palestinians had the chutzpah to actually resist being violently thrown off their land. Amazing! Reasoning with such people is obviously futile.

The U.S. then suggested Israel might bring the Palestinians to their senses by massacring a few of their villages (this tactic had often proved a convincing argument for Native Americans stubbornly occupying U.S. land). Unfortunately, many Palestinians still refused to leave (and those who did leave hold a grudge to this day). Amazing! Reasoning with such people is obviously futile.

Both the U.S. and Israel eventually forced hundreds of thousands of indigenous people off land they’d occupied for centuries. Both nations conceded “sovereign” territories for the displaced natives, but almost immediately began violently stealing that land too.

Both nations encouraged illegal settlements on these “sovereign” territories, inexorably forcing many indigenous people to struggle in squalor on worthless, arid land. Those who dared to resist were labeled “savages” by the U.S. and “terrorists” by Israel (of course, exterminating “savages” and “terrorists” is perfectly moral).

Why are the U.S. and Israel such good friends? Obviously the U.S. and Israel share the same deep moral values. What better basis for a close friendship than sharing the same deep moral values?

Carmen Yarrusso lives on a river in a small town in New Hampshire and often writes about uncomfortable truths.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The end of Hubris.

The end of Hubris.

By James Carroll |

RELIGION IS in crisis, or so its critics say. The negative litany is familiar. Core traditions of Islam justify terrorist murder. Roman Catholicism is a locus of sex abuse. Mainstream Protestant churches self-destruct in gender-identity wars. Evangelical Christians remain stuck in Darwin’s amber. The Mideast flash-point draws heat from fanatic belief that state boundaries are drawn by God. Faith traditions seem thrown on the defensive just when theology as an intellectual discipline has lost its vitality.

Such problems are usually cataloged in contrast to a nonreligious (“secular’’) culture that is doing fine. Structures of meaning are in place. Treasures of the past are handed on. Literature thrives. Educational institutions reliably illuminate minds. The public good is served by government. Democracy is on the rise. Families are intact. Hope is a universal virtue. And wouldn’t it be loverly to think so.

One reason religion comes in for such a trouncing is that religious impulses are readily identified, and easily debunked — even by those who share them. A prophetic tradition — most obviously represented by, but not limited to, the Bible that gave prophets both their good name and their bad standing — forms a core of all the great religions. Self-criticism, confession, repentance, and the purpose of amendment are standard spiritual values. Trashing religion, in fact, begins with religion (see, for example, Pope Benedict XVI’s stirring acknowledgment last week of “sin within the church itself’’). But the problems humans face go far deeper than what goes on in churches, temples, and mosques — never more so than today. A focus on religious failures can let the broader culture off the hook.

We are living through the simultaneous breakdowns of the two great secular myths that have defined Western civilization for 200 years — the socialist ideal of equality, and the organizing ethos of nationalism. These pillars of the modern idea are, respectively, broken and shaken. Take the ideal of equality. During the age of revolutions, from America and France in the 18th century to Russia and China in the 20th, a new vision affirmed the dignity and rights of every individual. Even through the displacements of industrialization, urbanization, and global migration; even allowing for the crimes of Stalin and Mao, the result was a tremendous economic leveling that moved most of the human population up from subsistence, with unprecedented numbers of workers and peasants becoming owners, and with a dramatic narrowing of class differences.

That revolution has been reversed, both globally, with vast numbers falling back into abject destitution, and within developed countries, where a new elitism is imposing brutal inequalities. The once-noble ideology of socialism is dead. The word itself is a political curse.

In the secular age, as religion was marginalized, its role as a source of meaning, purpose, and transcendence was largely taken over by the myth of nationalism. The nation-state became a main source of identity, prompting sufficient devotion in citizens to die or to kill. Where religious wars were always primitive and immoral, national wars were patriotic and just. Today, the tie between citizens and the state is tattered, even in America, which, in its democratic liberalism, was nationalism’s greatest success. The hollowing out of US institutions, from a Congress in the grip of political paralysis, to an extravagantly funded Pentagon that cannot defeat enemies whose bombs are made with fertilizer, to an economic regulatory system that has no influence, much less control, over financial predators — all of this suggests a breakdown not just of government, but of the national idea. Meanwhile, patriotism has become an exercise in hatred.

Wherever one looks, there are collapsed structures of meaning. Biology is obliterating ancient definitions of sexuality, reproduction, and mortality. Computer technology is transforming the very way humans think. Moral categories crumble. So why shouldn’t religions be in crisis? And if some people use devotion as a means of escape, who can blame them? But in truth, the old divide between secular and sacred has itself lost significance. The human race is at sea, cut loose from all moorings. Yet this condition can mark the end of hubris. Indeed, this condition — Genesis calls it “darkness upon the face of the deep’’ — is the one in which real religion had its start.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion

The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:
$3 Trillion

By Thomas R. Stauffer

Conflicts in the Middle East have been very costly to the U.S., as
well as to the rest of the world. An estimate of the total cost to the
U.S. alone of instability and conflict in the region—which emanates
from the core, Israeli-Palestinian conflict—amounts to close to $3
trillion, measured in 2002 dollars. This is an amount almost four
times greater than the cost of the Vietnam war, also reckoned in 2002

Even this figure underestimates the costs because certain classes of
expenditure remain unquantified. In particular, no reliable figure is
available for the costs of "Project Independence," Washington's
lavishly promoted effort to reduce U.S. dependence on oil from the
Middle East. That effort, which was subverted early on by diverse
local special interests, was designed primarily to insulate Israel
from any new "Arab oil weapon" after 1973/74, and may easily have cost
$1 trillion. Even though the outlays were rationalized in the interest
of "national security," however, they contributed little or nothing to
reducing U.S. strategic dependence upon imported oil from the Middle
East. Similarly, aid to Israel—and thus the regional total—also is
understated, since much is outside of the foreign aid appropriation
process or implicit in other programs. Support for Israel comes to
$1.8 trillion, including special trade advantages, preferential
contracts, or aid buried in other accounts. In addition to the
financial outlay, U.S. aid to Israel costs some 275,000 American jobs
each year.

The major components in this minimum estimate of the costs are
summarized in Table One; the detailed breakdown is displayed later in
Table Two:

Total identifiable costs come to almost $3 trillion. About 60 percent,
well over half, of those costs—about $1.7 trillion—arose from the U.S.
defense of Israel, where most of that amount has been incurred since
1973 (see later section and Table Three).

Oil Crises

The largest single element in the costs has been the series of six oil-
supply crises since the end of World War II. To date these have cost
the U.S. $1.5 trillion (again in 2002 dollars), excluding the
additional costs incurred since 2001 during the build-up toward the
second war with Iraq. Until 1991, each crisis was triggered by a
conflict among two or more Middle Eastern states, usually with the
active involvement of at least one extra-regional power. The nature
and impact of the oil crises changed over time, becoming more serious
and implying greater risk to the oil-consuming world.

The several earlier Mideast oil crises, in 1956 and 1967, actually had
relatively little effect on the United States. Indeed, the U.S.
profited from exporting surplus oil in 1956 when Mideast supplies—
especially of "sterling oil"—were interrupted. The second such crisis,
in 1967, did have a longer-term impact. Initially, only the cost of
shipping was raised when the Israelis interdicted the Suez Canal. The
splitting of oil markets between east and west of Suez, however, was
the catalyst for an overall price increase which otherwise would have
been unlikely, if not impossible. Several OPEC states were successful
in exploiting the closure of the Suez Canal to increase oil prices
across the board after 1968. Again, the effect on the U.S. was
relatively small, because U.S. oil imports were still at a low level.
Nonetheless, those increases between 1970 and 1973 did cost the U.S.
some $40 billion (in 2002 dollars).

The period before 1973, therefore, had little effect on U.S. oil
costs, and the burden of aid to Israel was modest, so the overall cost
of Middle East conflicts remained modest. The major cost prior to
1973, in fact, was support for Turkey as part of Cold War operations
to contain the Soviet Union.

This changed with 1973, and costs escalated rapidly thereafter.
Starting with the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, the costs to the U.S. of
regional crises and aid programs began to increase beyond any original
expectations. Since 1973, protection of Israel and subsidies to
countries willing to sign peace treaties with Israel, such as Egypt
and Jordan, has been the prime driver of U.S. outlays or the trigger
for crisis costs. The 1973 war proved to be dear. At a minimum, it
cost the U.S. between $750 billion and $1 trillion. This was the price
tag for the rescue of Israel when President Richard Nixon agreed to
resupply Israel with U.S. arms as it was losing the war against its
neighbors. Washington's intervention triggered the Arab oil embargo
which cost the U.S. doubly: first, due to the oil shortfall, the US
lost about $300 billion to $600 billion in GDP; and, second, the U.S.
was saddled with another $450 billion in higher oil import costs.

A third factor added to the oil-related cost of the 1973 war (over and
above the multi-billion dollar aid package to Israel which began in
that year). Deciding to act preventively, as it were, the U.S.
created, after some travail, a Strategic Petroleum Reserve ("SPR")
designed to insulate Israel and the U.S. against the wielding of a
future Arab "oil weapon." It was destined to contain one billion
barrels of oil which could be released in the event of a supply
crisis. To date the SPR, which still exists and is slowly being
expanded, has cost $134 billion—since much of the oil was bought at
high prices, and because the salvage value is relatively low. Thus,
the 1973 oil crisis, all in all, cost the U.S. economy no less than
$900 billion, and probably as much as $1,200 billion. Ironically,
military costs themselves were negligible. The 1973 war illustrated
the new dimension of Middle East conflicts, where the burdens are
economic rather than military.

The next regional oil crisis was relatively less dear, although costly
nonetheless. The Iranian revolution and the subsequent Iran-Iraq war
cost the U.S. $335 billion in terms of higher oil import prices. There
were two stages. First, 5 million barrels per day (b/d) of Iranian oil
exports were suspended when the revolutionaries closed the oil
terminals in 1978. The resulting shortfall in oil supply, compounded
by speculators, doubled oil prices. Then, just two years later, in
1980, began the Iran-Iraq war, which interrupted oil exports from both
warring countries, causing prices to more than double once again. The
joint effect of the two crises cost the U.S. consumer $335 billion in
terms of higher prices for imported oil. It also caused a rise in
prices of domestic energy—oil, gas, and coal. These "knock-on" effects
are not included, however, so that the figure of $335 billion is
indeed a lower bound for the actual costs of those two, back-to-back
crises. The total consumer cost is likely to have been more than
double that figure.

The 1990/91 Gulf war, on the other hand, proved to be almost a
bargain. It did cost American consumers approximately $80 billion in
higher oil prices, including both imported and domestic oil, again
excluding the resulting "knock-on" effects. The military costs of
conducting the war itself were all but nil, however, because virtually
all the other costs were passed on to Washington's willing or
reluctant allies through "burden-sharing." The Germans, Japanese, and
some Gulf states contributed cash and kind to the pursuit of the war,
with the result that the net military cost to the U.S. was essentially
zero. Officially reported "burden-sharing" contributions amounted to
$45 billion, compared to officially reported U.S. military costs of
$49 billion. Given the inherent imprecision in the budgeted figures,
the net effect was a wash. In fact, the U.S. government actually
showed a fiscal profit from the crisis, because it collected at least
an additional $10 billion in taxes and royalties from the higher
prices of domestically produced oil and gas.

Economic and Military Aid

This category includes only those amounts which flow through the
conventional foreign aid appropriations process. Ad hoc and special
aid is discussed later. The total for the Middle East is $867 billion,
which includes the official "Near East" category, plus Greece and
Turkey, which are classified as part of Europe for purposes of U.S.
statistics. Greece is included because the Greek lobby has ensured
that Greece receives roughly 70 percent as much aid as Turkey as a
condition for acquiescing in the appropriations for Turkey. Thus the
outlays for Greece are necessary conditions for the outlays for
Turkey, given the U.S. domestic political dynamic, and thus are
causally linked to the Middle East.

The official reports are incomplete. First, it is necessary to
estimate the ad hoc and special aid for Israel, which is reported
differently, if at all (see below). Secondly, it is necessary to
include such special, but related, transactions as U.S. support for
insurgents in the Sudan, or the U.S. share in multilateral aid to
Turkey, in order to flesh out the full picture. "Humanitarian aid" to
the revolutionaries in the southern Sudan has aggregated to some $2
billion, while the U.S. share of recent multilateral aid to Turkey
from the IMF and World Bank can be estimated at $7 billion. It can be
argued that this money was made available to Ankara as a result of
U.S. pressure, intended to reward Turkey further for its alliance with
Israel and as an incentive for further cooperation against Iraq.

Increasingly, aid to the periphery is part of U.S. involvement in the
Middle East. Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea are viewed as integral to
geopolitical planning for the Middle East, and, more recently, aid to
the Central Asian "emergent democracies" is linked in part to Middle
East politics, related to efforts to encircle and isolate Iran. That
increasing flow of aid is also part of the larger picture of aid to
the Middle East.

Another element is ad hoc support for Israel, which is not part of the
formal foreign aid programs. No comprehensive compilation of U.S.
support for Israel has been publicly released. Additional known items
include loan guarantees—which the U.S. most probably will be forced to
cover—special contracts for Israeli firms, legal and illegal transfers
of marketable U.S. military technology, de facto exemption from U.S.
trade protection provisions, and discounted sales or free transfers of
"surplus" U.S. military equipment. An unquantifiable element is the
trade and other aid given to Romania and Russia to facilitate Jewish
migration to Israel; this has accumulated to many billions of dollars.
Lastly, unofficial aid, in the form of transfers from the Diaspora
resident in the U.S. and net purchases by U.S. parties of Israel
Bonds, adds at least $40 billion to the total. A rough estimate, again
a minimum, for such additional elements is more than $100 billion
since 1973.

U.S. jobs and exports also have been affected, adding to costs and
losses. "Trade followed the flag" in the area—but in the reverse
direction. As U.S. relations with Mideast countries deteriorated,
trade was lost. Worsening political relations resulted in the loss of
hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. Some disappeared as a consequence
of trade sanctions, some because large contracts were forefeited,
thanks to the Israel lobby—as in the case of foregone sales of
fighters to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s—and still others due to a
dangerously growing trade-aid imbalance vis-ˆ-vis Israel.

Sanctions alone have caused U.S. jobs to disappear. The trickle of
U.S. trade with Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria—compared to what would
have been expected had relations been "normal," let alone "good"—
currently costs the U.S. some 80,000 to 100,000 jobs each year. The
figure is probably higher, in fact, because it does not reflect the
lost opportunities for U.S. farmers to export their products into the
growing markets of the sanctioned countries.

"Good" relations, however, do not necessarily mean employment gains
for Americans. In the case of Israel, the striking trade-aid imbalance
vis-ˆ-vis Israel costs the U.S. almost as many jobs as the sanction
regimes. Israel exports to the U.S. much more than it imports, while
it pays for only a fraction of what it does import from the U.S.
Specifically, Israel buys little from the U.S. in relation to U.S. aid
levels, and the trade-aid imbalance of $6 billion to $10 billion each
year costs about 125,000 jobs. One aspect of U.S. government policy in
the region, however, does create American jobs: the states of the
southern Gulf incrementally buy large quantities of U.S. arms and
related services. That relationship, primarily with Saudi Arabia, has
translated into an extra 60,000 jobs in recent years. This gain, due
to the special status of Saudi Arabia, partly offsets the jobs lost
through Israeli pressures or contracting policies.

Another large element in cost has been the push for energy autarky—
specifically, "Project Independence." This clutch of programs has been
extraordinarily costly since it was initiated as a policy objective in
the 1970s. Oil imports are higher today than before, in spite of the
imposing array of subsidies or forced technologies designed to
increase U.S. energy production and cut consumption. No overview of
these costs has been compiled. Identifiable costs come to $285
billion, but the grand total is certainly very much higher. A
reasonable estimate is at least one trillion dollars, but only part of
that can be documented. While the subsidies were inevitably justified
in the interests of national security, the projects and programs were
in most cases captured and co-opted by domestic lobbies. Since the
national objective was reducing dependence upon Mideast oil, however,
the costs should be subsumed within the costs of coping with regional
conflicts, even if the programs were largely ineffectual.

"Defense" of the Gulf—often cited as a major cost factor—in fact has
been but a minor element of cost. Excluding the buildup for war
against Iraq in late 2002, the official figure for operations and
presence in the Gulf is about $30 billion to $40 billion per year.
That figure is misleading, however. Most of the equipment and troops
and the operations of the carrier task force at Diego Garcia would be
maintained in support of other geopolitical objectives, so those
outlays, which represent the largest component in the reported "cost,"
are not substantively tied to U.S. policies in the Gulf itself. The
U.S. presence itself has entailed relatively modest incremental costs—
on the order of $2 billion (net) per year, exclusive of any new costs
tied to the new mobilization against Iraq.

Lastly, a large part of the costs have been inextricably tied to U.S.
protection of or support for Israel. It is therefore useful to pull
together the various elements linked to that policy:

Direct costs, excluding crisis costs, have amounted to about $800
billion. This figure includes budgeted U.S. aid for Egypt and Jordan,
since that flow of aid is so closely correlated with their postures
toward Israel—i.e., that aid is part of the cost of buying peace for
Israel on two of its borders. It also includes the flow of dollars
from private Jews or Jewish organizations in the U.S. to Israel, which
are drains on the U.S. balance of payments, analogous to official aid
transfers. The rescue of Israel in 1973 cost another $1 trillion, so
total direct costs, including the costs of the results of support for
Israel, are some $1.8 trillion.

There have been further costs where the causal linkage is less clear—
aid to the states of the periphery (Ethiopia, Central Asia, etc.), the
"defense" of the Gulf, and the costs of Energy Independence. Although
some part of those costs of $300-plus billion are attributable to U.S.
support for Israel at the core, any allocation is beyond the scope of
this discussion.

A last element is a contingent cost: the cost to the U.S. of the Oil
Supply Guarantee which Secretary of State Henry Kissinger proffered
the Israelis in 1975. If Israel's oil supply is affected, Israel in
effect gets a first call on any oil available to the U.S. The
opportunity cost of that oil depends upon the crisis scenario—a
plausible scenario would entail costs to the U.S. of $3 billion per
month in terms of lost GDP if the U.S. were embargoed at the same

Expensive Unrest

Unrest in the Middle East has proven to be very expensive for the U.S.
It is known that most of American foreign aid goes to Egypt and
Israel, but it is clear that the total costs to the U.S. of conflict
in the region are very much higher than the aid bill itself. The total
costs of supporting Israel are some six times the official aid, for
example. Oil price crises have been particularly expensive—a sobering
lesson from the history of the Middle East over the last 30 years.
Future "burden-sharing" is unlikely—while successful in eliminating
much of the cost of the 1990/91 Gulf war, it will become much more
difficult. Mercenary allies, such as Turkey, moreover, are likely to
demand compensation "up front," since, they argue, they never received
the aid promised to them during the prior Gulf war. Ankara is
especially likely to demand considerable rewards, since it protests
that it received little to offset the $30 billion it claimed it lost
in the last affair.

Israel, too, is demanding more aid—$4 billion in extra military
support and a further $10 bn in loan guarantees, over and above the
current level of appropriated aid. Conflicts in the Middle East have
become expensive indeed for the American taxpayer.

It is worth noting, however, that the burden shared by the other oil-
consuming states has, in fact, been much higher. Even though they do
not share in policy formation, they do indeed share in the costs of
the consequences. While not greatly drained by foreign aid to the
region—unlike the $800 billion borne by the U.S.—they bear much more
of the costs of oil crises because, collectively, they import much
more oil than the U.S. Thus the total bill—the total burden shared by
default—is two to four times higher than that for the U.S. alone. All
states—not just the U.S.—have borne the burden of conflicts in the
Middle East.

Thomas R. Stauffer is a Washington, DC-based engineer and economist
who has taught the economics of energy and the Middle East at Harvard
University and Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Peter Beck - Additional cost to American
Israel has cost the American taxpayer far more than the Israel/
Palestinian conflict. We could add the cost of the Iraq war, which was
conducted at the behest of Israeli agents (Paul Wolfowitz & Co.) in
the Bush administration. How do you quantify the cost of thousands of
American lives? We were justified in going into Afghanistan, but Iraq
was clearly a gift for Israel. We could also add the cost of the USS
Liberty, rarely mentioned any more because it was covered up by Lyndon
Johnson. You remember him- the first US President to put Israeli
interests before our own.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

About Yitzhak Rabin's Murder


In March 1997, President Kennedy’s son, John, Jr., ran a controversial article in his magazine, George. The article was written by Guela Amir, mother of Yigal Amir, the man who assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. In the article, Ms. Amir made it quite clear that her son did not act alone. She provided compelling evidence that Rabin’s assassination was sponsored by the Israeli government, and that her son had been goaded into shooting the prime minister by an agent provocateur working for Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of the FBI and Secret Service combined into one agency. The motive for the killing was because Rabin was going to give land back to the Palestinians as specified in the Oslo Accords. The following is Ms. Amir’s article in its entirety:

A Mother’s Defense, by Guela Amir

(Published in George Magazine, March 1997 edition, p. 138)

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin looked exhilarated as he made his way down the podium stairs that chilly autumn night. The pro-peace rally that Rabin had just addressed was an unqualified success. Some 100,000 supporters attended, and public attention was briefly deflected from the mounting criticism of his administration.

Rabin's carefree, buoyant demeanor that night seemed to put his bodyguards at ease, and the half dozen or so agents who accompanied him to his limousine in the parking lot behind the stage encircled him only loosely. None of the Shin Bet (General Security Service) agents in the entourage seemed to notice the slight young man leaning casually against one of the government cars.

As Rabin walked past, the young man drew a pistol, slipped into the crowd of towering security agents, and fired three rounds at the prime minister. Two of them hit Rabin's exposed back, and one shot wounded his bodyguard. As the shots rang out, someone at the scene shouted, "Blanks! Blanks!" as if to reassure the others that the bullets were not real. But the shots were not blanks. Rabin, mortally wounded, was rushed to nearby Ichilov Hospital. Curiously, as Leah Rabin was whisked away by car to Shin Bet headquarters, one of the agents assured the prime minister's wife that the gunman had actually used "a toy gun" and that her husband was fine. The reality was that Rabin lay dying in an emergency room.

The gunman was my son Yigal. The shooting seemed to be an open-and-shut case of assassination. An amateur videotape of the event clearly showed Yigal walking up to the prime minister and shooting him. So how could anyone at the scene have thought that Yigal was shooting blanks? Why was another guard so certain that the gun wasn't real? And how is it that minutes after the shooting, even before the details of the incident were broadcast, Israeli TV received a phone call from a man who claimed to represent a right-wing Jewish organization. He confidently declared, "This time we missed. Next time we won't." Other journalists simultaneously received messages on their pagers with the same statement.

Throughout the tense and painful period since the assassination, the answers to these troubling questions have begun to emerge, and they depict what I believe is an unsavory intrigue at the highest levels of government. This is the story of my search for the truth about the Rabin assassination.

I was visiting a friend's home when the first news bulletin about the assassination was broadcast. The report said that a law student "of Yemenite origin" from Bar-Ilan University had shot the prime minister during a peace rally in Tel Aviv. I had heard about the rally but had no reason to think that my son Yigal would be there. Nervously, I ran to my car and drove the short distance home to Herzliyya, a northern suburb of Tel Aviv, my hands shaking with fear all the way. When I pulled up in front of our house I could hear my husband, Shlomo, shouting. He is a religious scribe with a particularly gentle personality. In our more than 30 years of marriage, I have almost never heard him raise his voice. If he was shouting, something was terribly wrong.

My husband grabbed my hand and we stood together, eyes fixed stonily on the television. Within minutes, our other seven children joined us. Relatives and neighbors streamed into our home. Somebody insisted that it couldn't be Yigal, that "Gali" (his nickname) was visiting a friend. But then a broadcast showed a clear image of my son in the custody of the police. There was no mistake: That was my Yigal. As we sat, dazed, in front of the television, a swarm of Shin Bet agents burst into the living room, charged upstairs to Yigal's room, and took it apart from floor to ceiling.

In the streets outside, hundreds of neighbors gathered at the edge of our yard. Reporters and television crews soon joined them. My youngest children were crying uncontrollably. The phone rang off the hook that night, and it has not stopped since.

Daybreak brought the peculiar combination of unreality and routine that is painfully familiar to anyone who has experienced a family tragedy. For years I have managed a nursery school in our home for neighborhood children. Forty preschoolers had enrolled that autumn. At 8 A.M. parents began to arrive with their toddlers; all but a few came that day.

Later, the Shin Bet returned to raid the house. Concealed in the rafters, in a backyard shed, and in an underground cache they found weapons and ammunition. The agents seemed to revel in our shock at each new discovery. At one point I asked one of them why he was spending so much time examining several bars of soap found in the house. He showed me the explosives that were hidden inside. And then they arrested my firstborn son, Hagai, on suspicion of being an accomplice in the assassination of Rabin. Several of Yigal's and Hagai's friends and schoolmates were also hauled in for questioning.

I had lived through four wars and the terrifying Iraqi Scud missiles that struck Israel—just miles from our home—during the Persian Gulf War. But the fear I now felt was something entirely different. In wartime we had been part of a brave and unified community; now I felt that it was my family's own battle—that our family stood alone. Politicians and newspaper columnists branded us a family of "religious fanatics" and "extremists," never pausing to distinguish between us and Yigal. Leading the attacks against us was Rabin's former chief of staff Eitan Haber, who showed up at one of the early court hearings for Yigal and announced that he wouldn't leave the "Amir family in peace until the end of [his] days." Haber's pledge helped inspire a new round of telephone harassment against us, and our home was attacked by vandals.

When the news leaked out that my oldest daughter, Vardit, would soon be married, Haber was on her trail. Needless to say, we were in no mood for celebrations, but according to Jewish religious tradition, once a wedding date has been set it cannot be postponed; Vardit's wedding date had been decided on six months earlier. Haber called for protesters to show up by the thousands.

To our amazement, Haber's plan backfired. There was a spontaneous outpouring of sympathy for our family. Gifts began to arrive from anonymous well-wishers. People we did not know called to offer us help. A stranger lent the young couple a new car for their honeymoon. Nearly every one of our invited guests showed up.

In Jewish tradition the righteous are rewarded with a place in the world to come, and those who are sinful are punished until their souls have been cleansed. When I was a little girl, my grandfather, a revered rabbinical sage, would tell me stories about rare individuals whose sins were so grievous that they could not even enter purgatory. Such a soul, termed a dybbuk in Hebrew, is sent back to the earthly realm to repair the spiritual damage it has wreaked. The dybbuk's only hope is to infiltrate and possess the body of a living person and cling tightly to this purer soul in the hope of securing enough credit, through that person's meritorious deeds, to be forgiven for his own misdeeds. In the spring of 1992, a baneful dybbuk took possession of Israel's radical right-wing political movements and almost succeeded in driving them to ruin. This dybbuk's name was Avishai Raviv.

Raviv was a part of Yigal's other world-his world away from home-and I didn't realize what a central role he played in my son's life until his name began cropping up again and again as the Israeli press probed deeper into the Rabin assassination.

Avishai Raviv was born in 1967 in Holon, a backwater development town just south of Tel Aviv. He is remembered in Holon as a youngster who made up for his shyness and stuttering by playing practical jokes on his classmates. Raviv's family was not religious and tended to vote Labor. His life changed suddenly and dramatically when, at the age of 16, he attended a lecture by Rabbi Meir Kahane, the fiery leader of the Israeli nationalist Kach movement. Raviv became active in the movement and, under Rabbi Kahane's influence, seemed to undergo a religious awakening that resulted in his embracing traditional Judaism. While on leave from service in the Israeli army's elite Givati Brigade, Raviv began attending demonstrations and other Kach activities.

Subsequent Israeli and foreign media reports alleged that at some time during or immediately following his military service, Raviv was recruited as an informer for the Shin Bet. Raviv, however, was no ordinary snitch. It was reported that for five years he initiated, organized, and led dozens of extremist right-wing activities.

After the November 1990 assassination of Rabbi Kahane, the Kach movement split into two factions. Raviv managed to remain active in both. He consistently appeared at each group's events and soon became an infamous fixture on the nightly news. When scuffles broke out with the police or hostile passersby, Raviv was often in the center of the trouble and was arrested dozens of times (although he was rarely charged and never imprisoned).

While he was active in the various Kach splinters, Raviv joined the Temple Mount Faithful, a group that protests for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, the Jewish holy site in Jerusalem upon which Muslims built the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine. Israelis must get permission from the police before they can pray on the mount for fear of violence between Arabs and Jews, and the Temple Mount Faithful has responded with protests. Raviv's attempt to wrest control from the founder of the group would lead to his expulsion.

Raviv's agitation led to a particularly ugly episode in August 1991 during a protest outside the Tel Aviv office of Israel's Communist party. As Tamar Gozansky, a Communist member of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), left the building, Raviv charged at her with a large metal flagpole. Gozansky's aide blocked the assault, and a brawl ensued. Photos of a bloodied Raviv limping away from the rally enhanced his stature among the Kahane activists. Raviv was arrested, but it took nearly four years for the case to go to court. He was let off with a mere nine months' probation and a small fine. The decision by Israeli prosecutors to request probation rather than imprisonment seemed curious.

In the meantime, Raviv had enrolled at Tel Aviv University and was busy making trouble on campus. When a Druse student was elected head of the student union (the largely Jewish student body had chosen a Muslim), Raviv publicly accused him of being disloyal to Israel. The university administration brought disciplinary charges against Raviv for racism. Eventually Raviv was expelled from the university-but not before he asked the Office of the Prime Minister to intervene on his behalf Tel Aviv University officials, however, had had enough of his provocations and his appeal was rejected.

Raviv then founded an organization with settlement activist David Hazan, called Eyal (the Jewish Fighting Organization). It was a religious-nationalist youth movement with barely two dozen members at the start. But Raviv devoted all of his energy to recruiting new members. He soon built himself a small but loyal following, made up primarily of religious teenagers. Raviv lured these youngsters with the enticement of violence and rebellion. According to one girl's later testimony, the charismatic Raviv would arrange Sabbath weekend retreats for Eyal members in various Jewish settlements. I believe the cost of these weekends was usually footed by Raviv.

Before long, Raviv was quarreling with Hazan over the group's direction. Hazan thought Raviv went too far at times, and, reportedly, when Raviv started to openly discuss assassinating a prominent Israeli, Hazan resigned. Raviv took over and shaped Eyal into his vision of the militant vanguard of the Israeli Right. His former roommate, Eran Ojalbo, claimed that Raviv was obsessed with obtaining publicity for himself and his small band of followers and developed a real flair for media stunts. On one occasion, Raviv invited a television crew to watch Eyal members training with weapons. On another, he launched a well-publicized leafleting campaign against mixed Jewish-Arab classes in public schools. He and several Eyal teenagers were brought in for police questioning. Leaflets of this sort are illegal in Israel because they're considered racist, and those who are responsible for creating them are often prosecuted. With Raviv, no charges were pressed.

In September 1993, the Rabin government signed the Oslo accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The accords, and the series of terror bombings that followed their implementation, brought thousands of previously apolitical Israelis into the streets and onto the barricades in embittered protest. These neophyte activists poured into the pre-existing right-wing groups and placed themselves at the disposal of experienced organizers such as Avishai Raviv. One of these new activists was my son Yigal.

The election of Labor party leader Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister in 1992 was the climax of an extraordinary political comeback. After four straight national election losses and more than 15 years in the political wilderness, Rabin led the center-left Labor parry to triumph.

Like many Israelis, my husband and I were saddened by Rabin's election, but we sought consolation in the platform upon which he ran: no negotiations with the PLO, no establishment of a PLO state, and no surrender of the strategically vital Golan Heights. If Rabin adhered to his party's declared principles, Israel's basic security needs would be protected.

In utter disregard of Rabin's platform and in defiance of the Israeli law prohibiting contact with the PLO, Labor party emissaries initiated negotiations with the terrorist group. In September 1993, Rabin announced to a stunned nation that he was going to sign an agreement with PLO chairman Yasir Arafat, giving the PLO partial control over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. He also planned to release jailed terrorists in exchange for a PLO peace pledge.

In Israel, we hoped desperately that peace would emerge. As a wife and a mother, I know the pain and fear of having watched my sons go off to serve the mandatory three years in the Israeli army. I yearn for the day when we can beat our swords into plowshares.

Sadly, the Oslo process did not produce the peace we expected. Within weeks of the White House handshake, the horror began. A Palestinian terrorist drove a car filled with explosives into a bus near the community of Beit-El, wounding 30 people. Next, a Palestinian driving a car filled with explosives pulled up alongside a bus in the northern Israeli city of Afula. The explosion killed eight people and wounded dozens more. On Remembrance Day, a Palestinian suicide bomber boarded a bus in nearby Hadera and blew himself up, killing five and wounding 25. Public support for Rabin and the Oslo process plummeted. Labor had insisted that the agreement would bring Israel untold benefits. But such dreams were shattered by the rude reality of the old Middle East.

At the same time, a dangerous schism was emerging in Israeli society between those who continued to support the peace process and those who opposed it. Faced with widespread public rejection of the Oslo process, an increasingly defensive Rabin and his cabinet ministers responded by forging ahead with policies that did not have the support of the public majority.

The terror continued. On October 19, 1994, in the heart of Tel Aviv, a Hamas bomber blew up a bus, killing 22 passengers and wounding 48. Three weeks later a terrorist riding a bicycle and carrying a knapsack filled with explosives pedaled up to an army checkpoint in Gaza and killed three soldiers. Each week brought more death, violence, and disillusionment. Around our Sabbath dinner table, the one time each week when all of our children were together, there was a growing sense of despair. Yigal once said, almost in tears, "Who cares if you can now take a vacation trip to Jordan if the street outside is running with Jewish blood?" We didn't know how to answer him. But we did not quite understand just how deeply he felt the pain of the massacred victims. We could not imagine that these terrible events were pushing him past the point of no return.

In the summer of 1995, as Rabin entered the fourth and final year of his term, his popularity was rapidly declining and his coalition government had to count on the support of five Arab members in the Knesset for its survival, though he could not be assured of these crucial votes indefinitely. And there was turmoil inside the Labor party itself Rabin had indicated his willingness to surrender most or all of the Golan Heights region to the Syrians, and a handful of Labor members of the Knesset, led by the 1973 war hero Avigdor Kahalani, balked. Recalling how the Syrians had used the Golan from 1949 to 1967 to shell northern Israel, the Kahalani faction announced that it would vote against the government if it sought to surrender the Golan.

Throughout the spring and summer of 1995, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu began to rise in the polls. By late summer of 1995, the polls showed that if elections were held at that time, Netanyahu. would be elected prime minister. The polls found that a majority of the nation no longer supported new territorial surrender.

With elections less than a year away, Rabin's career appeared to be on the verge of ruin, and it's my belief that the Labor leadership quietly turned to the security services to help stave off a defeat at the polls.

The dybbuk in our story will now be joined by an authentic spook. Karmi Gillon came from one of Israel's prominent families. His grandfather, Gad Frumkin, had served as a Supreme Court justice during the pre-state years under the British Mandate. Gillon's father, Colin, was Israel's state attorney during the 1950s, and his mother, Saada, was a deputy attorney general. Gillon's brother, Alon, is a judge who serves as the registrar of Israel's Supreme Court. Karmi Gillon forsook the family profession for a career in the Shin Bet. Created shortly after Israel's birth, the Shin Bet is, in effect, the Israeli FBI and Secret Service combined; it is charged with the tasks of gathering domestic intelligence, counterespionage, and protecting diplomats and VIPs. Control of the Shin Bet is in the hands of the office of the prime minister.

The Shin Bet like the FBI, has had no small share of controversy over the years. During the time that Gillon was rising in its ranks, the Shin Bet was implicated in a series of scandals. The Landau Commission, established in 1987 to investigate the methods of the Shin Bet, found a pattern of perjury spanning almost two decades. It released an 88 page report sharply censured the Shin Bet leadership for having "failed by not understanding that no security operation, however vital, can put its operatives above the law." The commission characterized the Shin Bet's lawlessness as a danger to democratic society.

Karmi Gillon had a unique field of expertise. While most of his fellow agents spent their time combating the threat of Arab terrorism, Gillon was the Shin Bet's resident expert on Jewish extremist groups; he even wrote his master's thesis at Haifa University on the topic in 1990. He was an advocate of cracking down on Jewish nationalist movements and made no secret of his antipathy to the right-wing outlook.

A few months prior to Gillon's appointment as chief of the Shin Bet in February 1995, Avishai Raviv pulled off an extraordinary stunt. Raviv, accompanied by a band of former Kach activists, attempted to stage a demonstration outside Gillon's Jerusalem home to demand his resignation from the Shin Bet. Raviv and two other people were briefly detained as they approached Gillon's house. Raviv told reporters at the scene—I believe he tipped off the press—that the planned-demonstration was "to protest that the head of the Shin Bet is being used as a political tool against the right wing."

To some, Raviv's threatening behavior was just further "evidence" that the Jewish Right was a menace that had to be combatted. In fact, Raviv, as it was later alleged, was already serving as an informer for the Shin Bet, and I find it hard to believe that his stunt hadn't been cleared by Gillon himself. Even before Gillon assumed control of the service, Raviv's provocations had become completely unrestrained. According to the Jerusalem Post, a few days after the machine-gunning of 29 Palestinians by Dr. Baruch Goldstein in March 1994 at Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs, Raviv rented an apartment—directly above the one where Goldstein had lived—in Kiryat Arba. While Kiryat Arba's leaders were denouncing Goldstein, Raviv was boasting about his admiration for him. According to the Post, one of Raviv's splinter groups, DOV [Suppression of Traitors], vandalized a car belonging to the Kiryat Arba council head, Zvi Katzover, and the next day, Eyal took credit for assaulting Katzover's son so seriously that the boy had to be hospitalized. Again, Raviv was not prosecuted.

Raviv was then accepted by Bar-Ilan University, an Orthodox Jewish institution located in Ramat Gan, not far from Tel Aviv. Raviv registered for several history and philosophy courses and also enrolled in the school's Institute for Advanced Torah Studies. It was there, in the spring of 1994, that he met my son Yigal.

By the time summer rolled around, Raviv was sponsoring a paramilitary Eyal summer camp for militant youngsters. Reporters were invited to watch as Raviv ordered his young recruits, armed with automatic weapons, pistols, and knives, to engage in paramilitary drills and martial-arts training.

Throughout 1994, my husband and I were aware that Yigal was becoming increasingly involved in political activities. But as long as his actions were within the law (and to my knowledge, they were) and he kept up his grades (and he did), we saw no reason to object. If Yigal felt that the Oslo process was endangering Israel—and many, many Israelis felt that way—it was his right, even his obligation, to protest.

What we did not know was that Yigal was being drawn into Raviv's netherworld. Raviv was blanketing the campus with extremist posters. He clashed with campus security when some of the more militant notices were taken down by guards. This resulted in a hearing before an academic disciplinary committee that issued a warning: He would be expelled if he caused any more trouble.

In the summer of 1995, Raviv was once more summoned to a disciplinary committee for his activities. Raviv was again let off with a mere warning by the university administration. Acquaintances from that period later told me that he had behaved as if he had protectzia, the Hebrew slang for pull, or influence in high places. The rabbis at the Institute for Advanced Torah Studies, however, had seen enough of Raviv's antics. He was expelled from the institute.

In Hebrew, Yigal means "he will redeem." My second son was born during those first heady years after the Six Day War, when Israel, on the brink of annihilation by the Arab armies, miraculously beat back the enemy and liberated sacred territories that are so central to Judaism and Jewish history: Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and, of course, Jerusalem. God had redeemed his nation, and we named our second child Yigal as an affirmation of that miracle. Even as a young child, Yigal displayed an energy and drive that set him apart from other children. Whatever Yigal wanted, he found a way to get.

Yigal had never given us a day of trouble in his life. After graduating at the top of his high school class, he began his military service. His fierce patriotism compelled him to volunteer for an elite combat unit. As a mother, I dreaded his decision to serve in the unit that is called into battle first when war breaks out. But how could we stand in the way of our son's desire to defend his country?

When Yigal finished his three mandatory years of service, I detected a new seriousness in him. He was hired as a government emissary to Latvia, where he taught Hebrew to potential Jewish immigrants to Israel. He subsequently told me that this is where he was trained by the Shin Bet.

Upon his return, Yigal gained admission to law school at Bar-Ilan. For a young man of Yemenitc background, this was quite an accomplishment: Jews from Yemen and other Arab countries start out at the bottom of Israel's socioeconomic ladder, and it has taken decades to break into professions dominated by those of European origin. Yigal enrolled not only in the Bar-Ilan University law school but simultaneously in its computer classes and the university's religious-studies program.

Like many of his fellow students, Yigal was drawn to political activism by the Oslo accords. He attended a number of mass demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and helped organize a number of campus rallies, but he soon despaired of their impact because there was no chance of changing Rabin's mind.

Yigal found himself overwhelmed by a sense of frustration, and this helped to pave the way for his association with Raviv. He was now spending a good deal of his time organizing Sabbath weekend retreats for student activists in various Israeli towns and in the settlements. As Yigal's friends told me subsequently, he and Raviv worked together, publicizing the retreats, preparing literature for the discussion groups and seminars, and arranging for guest lecturers.

We hardly saw Yigal during the summer and early autumn of 1995. 1 couldn't imagine how he mustered the energy for such outings after his grueling schedule of classes. But if he was using his day and a half off from school (Israel's weekends last only from Friday afternoon until Saturday night) for educational purposes, we considered it worthwhile.

According to Yigal's friends and others who have since testified in court, Raviv seemed to be obsessed with one topic: killing Rabin. He and Yigal frequently engaged in discussions about the feasibility of assassination.

On September 16, Israeli television broadcast what was purported to be a secret late-night swearing-in ceremony organized by Eyal. At the ceremony, which was later revealed to have been staged for the television cameras, Raviv assembled what he claimed were a group of new Eyal recruits at the graves of pre-state Jewish underground fighters, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Raviv scored his biggest media triumph on October 5,1995, when the opposition political parties organized a mass rally in downtown Jerusalem to protest the mounting Arab terror and the government's weak response. Although I rarely attended demonstrations, Yigal and I went to, this one together. The main speaker that Saturday night was Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Circulating among the huge crowd was Avishai Raviv and his band of Eyal hotheads. According to the Jerusalem Post, Raviv had given them handouts depicting Prime Minister Rabin dressed up in an SS uniform. When demonstrators urged the Eyal sign holders to remove the offensive placards, they refused. Eyal's founder, David Hazan, passed by and tore up one of the posters. A gang of Eyal toughs promptly pummeled him.

The Post reported that an Israeli television reporter, Nitzan Chen, later revealed that Raviv had approached him and urged him to broadcast the sign on the nightly news report, and that he had even called later to be sure that it had been included.

In the Knesset the next morning, the Labor party made good use of the poster. Netanyahu was accused of having failed to condemn them. It helped reinforce the notion that the Likud was extremist and irresponsible. In a radio interview shortly afterward, Rabin told the public that "the Likud provides extremists with inspiration. It cannot wash its hands of this and claim it has nothing to do with it."

Netanyahu's request to meet with Rabin to attempt to ease the mounting political tensions was ignored. Rabin's refusal to even meet with the Likud leader again strengthened the idea that Netanyahu was beyond the pale. It also helped deflect public attention away from Arab terrorism. Finally, so it seemed, Rabin had found an effective campaign strategy.

On November 4, 1995, Yigal exited a bus and made his way toward Malchei Yisrael Square, where thousands of supporters had already assembled. The large floodlights placed outside the Tel Aviv city hall illuminated the area for many blocks, and security was stepped up around the demonstration. On hand were more than 700 police and border-patrol officers, dozens of undercover police, and agents of the Shin Bet who had been assigned the job of guarding the featured political leaders.

The gathering, whose theme was "Yes to peace, no to violence," had been heavily advertised for weeks. Labor party-dominated municipalities and unions pulled out all stops in their drive to generate a large turnout for the rally. Some of the biggest names in Israeli entertainment were recruited to perform. In addition to Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Peres, other top Labor leaders were present. It was meant to be an impressive show of strength for the party and proof positive that large segments of the country still supported the peace process.

Yigal strode quickly through the crowd. The police had erected special metal railings to keep the crowd away from the rostrum, but people were simply walking around the barriers. When Yigal arrived near the stage he circled around the police line and descended the stairway that led to the cordoned parking area, where the limousines of the prime minister and other government officials were parked.

After a while, a Shin Bet agent approached and asked Yigal who he was. He reportedly replied that he was one of the drivers. The agent apparently accepted the answer and walked away. At no point did anyone ask Yigal to produce identification or seriously challenge his presence near the cars. Much criticism was later leveled against the police and the Shin Bet for failing to create a "sterile" area near the stage, a standard security precaution.

Yigal struck up a conversation with some of the drivers and police officers who were mingling in the parking lot. Later they would admit that they had assumed he was either an undercover policeman or one of the entertainers' drivers. From his position in the parking lot, Yigal could clearly hear the singing of the performers.

As the speeches and performances continued on the stage above him, Yigal bided his time. He did not check his watch, nor did he display any anxiety, he told me. He said that if the police had stopped him or seriously questioned him at this stage, he would have taken it as a sign from above and abandoned the plan to kill Rabin. But on this evening there were no such actions by the police or Shin Bet agents. And so Yigal was content to peacefully wait for the rally to end and the prime minister to be escorted to his car.

In the chaotic aftermath of the assassination, rival Israeli law-enforcement officials engaged in a frenzy of finger-pointing and recriminations. In the newspapers and on the airwaves, the Police Ministry and the Shin Bet hurled accusations at one another, each attempting to blame the other for the lax security. Shin Bet head Karmi Gillon, whose name was then a state secret, announced that the security services would conduct an internal investigation. The police announced their own internal probe. Astonishingly, within 48 hours—on November 7—the Shin Bet report was concluded and leaked to the press. The document, which was authored by three former branch heads of the Shin Bet, found that the entire protection system assigned to the prime minister had collapsed. The report lambasted the inability of the Shin Bet to gather intelligence on extreme right-wing groups. After the report's release, the head of the protection department, identified as "D," was forced to resign. The Shin Bet insisted that D's negligence was the sole reason for the procedural breaches on the night of the killing.

On Tuesday, November 7, Raviv was arrested by the police, on charges that he was involved in the assassination. The Jerusalem Post asserted that his group, Eyal, was being investigated in connection with a conspiracy to kill the prime minister. As the handcuffed Raviv was brought to court under heavy police guard, he yelled to reporters, "This is a political investigation and a false arrest! This is a dictatorship!"

The next day, the government announced the formation of a commission of inquiry into the assassination, to be headed by former Supreme Court justice Meir Shamgar. And from the outset, the Shamgar Commission was plagued by conflicts of interest and questions of impartiality. Shamgar himself had served for many years as Judge Advocate General of the Israeli army and maintained ties to the military establishment. He was also a close personal friend of the Rabin family. Shamgar was joined on the panel by a former head of the Mossad, Zvi Zamir, and Professor Ariel Rosen-Zvi, dean of Tel Aviv University law school. Professor Rosen-Zvi was in the advanced stages of cancer at the time and would be dead within weeks of the commission's final report.

In a strange twist, Judge Alon Gillon, the older brother of Shin Bet head Karmi Gillon, was named secretary of the commission. Sitting in on the commission's proceedings was the brother of the government official who was most likely to be blamed if the commission concluded that the Shin Bet had failed to safeguard Rabin. The possible conflict of interest apparently escaped the notice of the commissioners—Karmi Gillon would testify before the commission at length. Unfortunately, neither the public nor the news media were allowed to attend many of the commission's hearings.

Equally troubling was the presence of Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair. Since the commission was investigating, among other issues, whether the attorney general's office was granting some Shin Bet informants—one of which was later alleged to be Raviv—immunity from prosecution, the presence of the attorney general at the hearings was surprising indeed. If the government's intent was to definitively ascertain what led to Rabin's assassination, then even the perception of impropriety should not have been tolerated.

During the days following the assassination, Attorney General Ben-Yair had ordered a crackdown on individuals who were suspected of engaging in "inflammatory speech." Curiously, the crackdown continued for several weeks, then stopped suddenly. Ben-Yair announced—in a stunning reversal—that mere words could not cause an individual to engage in criminal acts, and they had not caused Yigal's act. "The person who killed the prime minister did not do so under the influence of incitement.... He acted due to a complete worldview, which he had developed.... It wasn't because of a poster here or there." Ben-Yair was not the only one to engage in a sudden, unexplained about-face. Police Minister Moshe Shahal, who had previously declared, "We believe that a group of people carefully prepared the ground to conspire to murder carefully chosen targets," now asserted that Yigal was a lone gunman who had organized the assassination on his own.

But the "inciting rhetoric" and "organized conspiracy" theories had served their purpose they had inflamed public opinion against the Israeli Right. Now, I believe they needed to be discarded lest they open an even bigger can of worms about incitement and conspiracy.

On the weekend before the Shamgar Commission was to hear its first witness, Karmi Gillon, there was a stunning revelation: Israeli television and radio both reported that Raviv was, indeed, an undercover agent for the Shin Bet. According to the reports, Raviv, codenamed "Champagne" by his Shin Bet handlers, had been on the government's payroll for at least two years as a top infiltrator of the far Right. But according to an investigation by the Jerusalem Post, Raviv's task involved much more than infiltration: His orders were to attract individuals to Eyal, incite them to illegal activities, and then inform on them to the Shin Bet.

One of the sources of this information was Rabbi Benny Elon, the dean of Yeshivat Beit Orot, a religious college, and son of a retired Supreme Court justice. Elon would later become a Knesset member in 1996. This prominent Jewish-settlement activist and leader of the right-wing group Moledet held a press conference and charged that Raviv had effectively manufactured the wild far Right. He was, in Elon's words, an "agent provocateur," carrying out a mission by the government to discredit the right-wing opposition, including, by association, the Likud. "I would venture to say," Elon added, "that the whole organization [Eyal] and its activities, including the poster depicting Rabin in an SS uniform, were all paid for by the Shin Bet." (The Shin Bet later denied the charge.) Elon went on to say, "There is a reasonable suspicion that [Raviv's activity] was okayed by the legal authority."

Elon, who had met Raviv and other Eyal activists on a number of occasions at demonstrations and elsewhere, said that Raviv had been Yigal's constant companion in the months prior to the killing. How could Raviv have been so close to Yigal and not known, as Raviv later claimed in court, of the assassination plan? And how could a Shin Bet informer have been so closely involved in all of these activities without the knowledge of the Shin Bet, which is supervised by the Office of the Prime Minister?

The two weeks after the assassination were the most horrible period of my life. Now, suddenly, came the revelation of a Shin Bet connection to Yigal's "pal" Raviv.

The Likud, which had been on the defensive since the assassination, came to life in the wake of the Raviv-Shin Bet accusations. At a meeting of the Likud executive bureau, Netanyahu called for "a full, thorough, and exhaustive investigation into the Raviv affair. There must be no coverup. Even if only a fraction of the provocative activities attributed to Raviv are true, they constitute a grave danger to democracy. There must be an investigation, and it must come now, with no delays and no excuses."

And then there were more revelations. Israel's leading daily, Yediot Ahronot, reported that in testimony before a closed session of the Shamgar Commission, several young women at a religious seminary said that they had recognized Yigal and Raviv from a Sabbath retreat at Ma'aleh Yisrael the previous summer. The girls told their teacher, Sarah Eliash, that Raviv had denounced several Rabin government officials as "traitors." During several marathon ideological discussions that weekend, Raviv had attempted to goad Yigal into killing Rabin, ridiculing his "cowardice" for not being willing to assassinate a "traitor." In court, Raviv said he had heard Yigal talk about the "need to kill Rabin" but claimed he hadn't taken him seriously.

The girls testified: "We used to see Raviv and Amir on Saturdays during last summer. These gatherings were arranged by Yigal. We would sit out on a hilltop there. There were no demonstrations or any violence. They were basically study groups. We met, like, several times.... Raviv was real macho. He kept saying to Yigal, 'You keep talking about killing Rabin. Why don't you do it? Are you frightened? You say you want to do it. Show us that you're a man! Show us what you are made of"' The girls testified that Yigal didn't react at all to Raviv's pressure and just changed the subject of discussion.

Suddenly, information about Raviv was spilling forth. Raviv's former roommate in Kiryat Arba, and former member of Eyal, Eran Ojalbo, testified as a witness for the defense at Yigal's trial. He revealed that Raviv had said that Rabin was a rodef—the Hebrew term for someone who endangers others and therefore should be killed. At a weekend retreat organized by Yigal in the settlement of Ma'alch Yisrael, press reports say, Raviv had marked several different government leaders for death.

Ojalbo also testified that ten minutes after news of the assassination had been announced, Raviv called him and asked how he was and if he knew who had shot Rabin. Ojalbo responded that in television reports he had seen that it was "a short Yemenite guy." Raviv asked if it was Yigal. "I looked again," Ojalbo testified, "and said that it was Yigal."

Ojalbo also maintained that Raviv had verbally pressured Yigal to attempt an assassination of Rabin. "Raviv told Yigal and others, time and time again, that there was a din-rodef [judgment] on Yitzhak Rabin. He said, 'Rabin should die,' and whoever killed him was a righteous person.... Raviv had a powerful influence on Yigal. He continuously emphasized to him and other students that whoever implemented the din-rodef against Rabin was carrying out a holy mission."

Israel television's Chen appeared before the Shamgar Commission and related the details of Raviv's involvement with the SS handouts. Raviv's job was to discredit the Right, Chen said, and what could be more effective than giving the public the idea that the entire opposition considered Rabin to be a Nazi?

The next Raviv revelation came from the Jerusalem Post investigative reporter Steve Rodan. He reported that "Israel Broadcasting Authority spokesman [Ayala Cohen] said the first report of the Rabin shooting was broadcast at 9:48 P.M. Channel 1 began broadcasting live at 10:15, and 15 minutes later, the alleged assassin was identified as a 25-year-old student from Herzliyya."

But Rodan also wrote that Raviv had arrived at the Tel Aviv rally 15 minutes before Rabin's murder. When the first rumors of the shooting swept through the crowd, at 9:50 P.M., Rodan reported, "Immediately Raviv pulled out his mobile telephone and spoke to an unidentified person. 'He called somebody,' one of the witnesses said. 'He asked whether they shot Rabin.' Then Raviv asked, 'Was he hurt?'.... When he finished [the conversation] he shouted, 'It was Yigal. Don't you know Yigal? He was at the Orient House demonstrations [Eyal's protests at PLO headquarters in Jerusalem].' Raviv then made his way toward nearby Ichilov Hospital and then disappeared."

"Those around him could not understand how Raviv knew the identity of the assassin before anyone else," Rodan reported.

As the accusations about Raviv mounted, the opposition Tsomet party petitioned the High Court of Justice to prevent Attorney General Ben-Yair from attending further Shamgar Commission hearings. The petition asked that, at a minimum, Ben-Yair be prohibited from questioning witnesses, including Shin Bet agents and confidential informants, whose activities he might have authorized. The petition also argued that since Ben-Yair might himself be called to testify, it was improper for him to become familiar with others' testimony.

Instead of ruling on the merits of the petition, the High Court offered a compromise proposal under which Tsomet would withdraw its petition in exchange for a promise that Ben-Yair would absent himself if a conflict of interest arose. But it was a disappointing action by the Court, and it did little to restore the image of the commission. The growing public perception was that Ben-Yair was sitting in on the commission hearings to conduct damage control for the government in the wake of the Raviv-Shin Bet revelations.

On December 14, Raviv himself appeared before the Shamgar Commission. After completing his secret testimony, he was whisked away in a government car and vanished from public view.

Following Raviv's testimony, the commission issued warning letters to six Shin Bet officials, including Karmi Gillon. The letters cautioned the officials that they might face criminal liability as a result of their involvement with the events surrounding Raviv and the Rabin murder. Gillon and several other Shin Bet agents were called back for additional testimony, in light of Raviv's statements to the commission.

On January 8, 1996, Karmi Gillon resigned. The Israeli media concluded that had he not stepped down voluntarily, the Shamgar Commission would have insisted on his removal. The man who had been championed as an expert on Jewish extremism had failed to examine and follow up on information that he had received regarding a possible attack on the prime minister by Jewish extremists. But what was widely perceived as Gillon's negligence explained only a fraction of the events that led to the assassination. Why hadn't the Shin Bet ordered Raviv to cease his provocations? Why had it not detained or at least questioned Yigal before he acted? Why the strange restraint in the face of a threat to the prime minister?

The Jerusalem Post reported: "Yigal told investigators that he acted alone, did not belong to an extremist organization, and had 'received instructions from God to kill Prime Minister Rabin.'" Yigal also reiterated in court that he acted alone. I believe he did so in order not to implicate others.

On March 28, 1996, the Shamgar Commission released its report. Of the 332 pages, 118 were declared classified. The unclassified parts blamed Gillon for the failures of the Shin Bet on the night of the murder but did not find him or any other agents criminally negligent. According to the Jerusalem Post, the unclassified sections contained only a few scattered references to the relationship between the running of agents and the Shin Bet. The report depicted the assassination as a failure by the agents protecting Rabin to organize themselves effectively. In one of its least believable conclusions, the Shamgar report claimed that Gillon—the expert on right-wing Jewish extremism—"did not conduct even one substantive, relevant, thorough, and comprehensive discussion with all the security and intelligence-gathering bodies to review methods." This was after two senior Shin Bet officers told the commission that they had gathered intelligence reports that right-wing groups could be a threat to both Jews and Arabs.

Equally bizarre was the commission's assertion that in order to "safeguard" the Shin Bet's operational methods, testimony by or about Raviv and his role had to be placed in a classified appendix to the report. In Chapter 5 of the commission's report is a section entitled "The Avishai Raviv Episode." The page is blank except for the cryptic note that "the details of this subject will be discussed in the secret appendix."

A section entitled "The Operation of Agents" states: "The body that operates an informer must keep tight control of him and not allow him to initiate actions at his will ... and to prevent the carrying out of provocations that in the end might have a boomerang effect." Could they have been referring to Raviv?

The official investigation of Raviv's relationship with Yigal remains shrouded in secrecy. Labor, of course, wanted no further probing into a potentially explosive scandal. Ironically, Likud, having forced national elections in two months, preferred to put the issue to rest.

The idea of using an agent provocateur was not originated by the Shin Bet. The secret police in czarist Russia created fake anarchist cells in order to attract genuine anarchist militants whom they would arrest and execute. When the Soviets came to power, they employed the same tactic against their political enemies. In the United States, the FBI created COINTELPRO (the counterintelligence program) to recruit potential lawbreakers, help incite them to break the law, then arrest them. By the late 1970s, the use of such unscrupulous tactics had been exposed and widely condemned as improper interference with citizens' rights. In Israel, unfortunately, dirty tricks are still commonly used.

Neither the Shin Bet nor the political echelon that controls it, the Office of the Prime Minister, seems to have appreciated the difference between a legitimate informant and an agent provocateur.

I believe Raviv enjoyed the full backing and protection of the Shin Bet. He assaulted a member of the Knesset and did not serve a day in jail. The Office of the Prime Minister was contacted to help intervene in an attempt to prevent his expulsion from Tel Aviv University. He emerged scot-free from distributing racist literature, publicly praising Baruch Goldstein, holding illegal summer militia camps, and allegedly distributing the Rabin-SS poster. On many occasions, he allegedly urged the assassination of Rabin and other Labor government officials and was never prosecuted. Raviv's lawlessness had to have sent the message to potential extremists that violence could be employed with impunity.

As I see it, Karmi Gillon and Avishai Raviv were the perfect match: Gillon, the Shin Bet chief obsessed with the belief that right-wing Jewish terrorist groups were on the loose; and Raviv, the alleged Shin Bet informer actively ensuring that Gillon's dark prophesies came true. If Raviv was an informer, did he alert Shin Bet agents that Yigal was now a potential assassin? I find it inconceivable that he would have kept such information to himself. Yet Yigal was never arrested. Never questioned. Never had his gun license revoked. Never had his gun confiscated. Did Gillon know from Raviv about Yigal's activities? If so, why didn't he order his agents to undertake any action against Yigal? What were they waiting for?

Just minutes after Yigal had shot the prime minister, somebody called reporters, identified himself as a spokesman for a right-wing organization, and claimed, "This time we missed. Next time we won't." It seems astonishing to me that the caller could have known that the shots were fired by a right-wing Jew rather than an Arab. Why did he think that the attack had failed?

Could the caller have been Raviv? I think he spent months inciting Yigal to make the attempt. He may have suspected that it would take place that night. I also think that he positioned himself at the rally, close enough to the scene of the crime to know that the shots had been fired, enabling him to make the immediate calls to the reporters. (One wonders what might emerge from an investigation of the itemized bill of Raviv's cellular phone.)

Yet, for some reason, Raviv was sure that the attempt would fail. Why? Perhaps somebody—either Raviv or someone else—was surreptitiously supposed to have disabled Yigal's gun, either by removing the firing pin or by replacing the bullets with blanks, before the shooting. It has been claimed in court that it was Yigal who shouted, "Blanks! Blanks!" But Shin Bet agents are trained to shout out "Blanks! Blanks!" in security drills. And I believe that that cry, combined with the fact that an agent assured Mrs. Rabin that the gun was not real, might mean that the Shin Bet were expecting an unsuccessful assassination attempt.

The Shin Bet could have arrested Yigal at any time in the weeks before the rally and charged him with plotting to kill Rabin. But the impact on the public would be so much more dramatic if Shin Bet agents heroically foiled an attempt on the prime minister's life. But something went terribly wrong. The bullets were not blanks; the gun was not a toy.

My belief has some basis in past events. Foiling attempted crimes at the last second is a well-established Shin Bet method. In April 1984, in a Shin Bet operation, agents were tracking a group of settlement leaders who were engaged in retaliatory attacks against Arab terrorists. They followed the suspects as they planted explosives on several Arab buses in East Jerusalem. After this, the suspects were allowed to travel back to their residences. Only then did the Shin Bet raid their houses and conduct arrests. At the time, it was reported that the Shin Bet delayed taking suspects into custody until after the bombs were planted in order to sensationalize their own heroic efforts. Faced with the shocking news story, then prime minister Yitzhak Shamir had no choice but to let the security services arrest dozens of other suspects and crack down on the settlement organizations.

More recently, there is the disturbing case of the Kahalani brothers, Eitan and Yehoyada, from Kiryat Arba. The two men were convicted of plotting to shoot an Arab in retaliation for the murder of a Jewish settler. The pair had taken their loaded rifles to a road near the village of Kafr Batir, where they spotted an Arab man on a bicycle. As the Arab approached their truck, Eitan raised his rifle to fire, but the gun malfunctioned and Shin Bet agents waiting in ambush rushed to arrest the two brothers. The charge sheet is revealing. It contends that the murder was dramatically foiled "as a result of the removal of the firing pin by GSS [Shin Bet] without prior knowledge of the accused, [hence] no shot was fired."

The Kahalanis' attorney argued that a third individual involved in planning the attack was a Shin Bet plant who had disabled the guns. The alleged informant was arrested and then quickly released despite the charge that he was involved in the conspiracy. Why did the Shin Bet wait until after Eitan Kahalani had pulled the trigger to move in and make the arrest?

What Israel needs now is to heal the terrible wounds that the nation has suffered as a result of the assassination and its aftermath. To ease the malaise that is eating away at our society. To restore the public's confidence in our government. And, above all, to preserve the principles that are the basis of our democratic way of life.

My concern for the lives and the freedom of my two sons ensures that I will not rest until the truth—about Avishai Raviv, the Shin Bet and my son Yigal—is fully revealed.

(Guela Amir, A Mother’s Defense, published in George Magazine, March 1997, p. 138)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Obama, Clinton pressuring Medvedev on Khodorkovsky

Obama, Clinton pressuring Medvedev on Khodorkovsky

Informed U.S. government sources report that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have personally interceded with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other Russian officials in urging the Russian government to release from prison Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former multi-billionaire tycoon serving a nine year prison sentence for fraud.

Khodorkovsky and his associate Platon Lebedev,who is also in prison after being convicted of fraud and tax evasion, are currently on trial on new charges of embezzlement and money laundering.

The case of Khodorkovsky has become a cause célèbre for neocons in Congress and the Israel Lobby in Washington. Because Khodorkovsky is Jewish, the neocons and Israel Lobby have marshaled their resources to stymie Senate ratification of the new US-Russian strategic arms reduction treaty and have refused to remove U.S.-Russian trade barriers imposed by the Jackson-Vanik amendment of the 1974 Trade Act imposed on the former Soviet Union to pressure it to allow unrestricted Soviet Jewry emigration. Jackson-Vanik currently denies most-favored nation trade status to Russia and its continued enforcement is a pet project of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Russia views Obama's and Clinton's pressure on the Khodorkovsky matter to be interference in the domestic affairs of Russia.

In essence, Khodorkovsky was imprisoned in Russia for some of the same crimes committed by American businessmen in the United States, most of whom have remained unindicted: tax evasion, embezzling company funds, insider trading, and money laundering. What is even more astounding is the fact that some of these same unindicted U.S. businessmen are leading the charge for Russia to free Khodorkovsky from prison.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Global Economic Crisis, The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

The Global Economic Crisis, The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

Montreal, Global Research Publishers. Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), 2010.

ISBN 978-0-9737147-3-9 (416 pages)


In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a "war without borders" led by the United States of America and its NATO allies. The conduct of the Pentagon’s "long war" is intimately related to the restructuring of the global economy.

We are not dealing with a narrowly defined economic crisis or recession. The global financial architecture sustains strategic and national security objectives. In turn, the U.S.-NATO military agenda serves to endorse a powerful business elite which relentlessly overshadows and undermines the functions of civilian government.

This book takes the reader through the corridors of the Federal Reserve and the Council on Foreign Relations, behind closed doors at the Bank for International Settlements, into the plush corporate boardrooms on Wall Street where far-reaching financial transactions are routinely undertaken from computer terminals linked up to major stock markets, at the touch of a mouse button.

Each of the authors in this collection digs beneath the gilded surface to reveal a complex web of deceit and media distortion which serves to conceal the workings of the global economic system and its devastating impacts on people’s lives. Our analysis focuses on the role of powerful economic and political actors in an environment wrought by corruption, financial manipulation and fraud.

Despite the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives presented within this volume, all of the contributors ultimately come to the same conclusion: humanity is at the crossroads of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history.

The meltdown of financial markets in 2008-2009 was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The "bank bailouts" were implemented on the instructions of Wall Street, leading to the largest transfer of money wealth in recorded history, while simultaneously creating an insurmountable public debt.

With the worldwide deterioration of living standards and plummeting consumer spending, the entire structure of international commodity trade is potentially in jeopardy. The payments system of money transactions is in disarray. Following the collapse of employment, the payment of wages is disrupted, which in turn triggers a downfall in expenditures on necessary consumer goods and services. This dramatic plunge in purchasing power backfires on the productive system, resulting in a string of layoffs, plant closures and bankruptcies. Exacerbated by the freeze on credit, the decline in consumer demand contributes to the demobilization of human and material resources.

This process of economic decline is cumulative. All categories of the labor force are affected. Payments of wages are no longer implemented, credit is disrupted and capital investments are at a standstill. Meanwhile, in Western countries, the "social safety net" inherited from the welfare state, which protects the unemployed during an economic downturn, is also in jeopardy.

The Myth of Economic Recovery

The existence of a "Great Depression" on the scale of the 1930s, while often acknowledged, is overshadowed by an unbending consensus: "The economy is on the road to recovery".

While there is talk of an economic renewal, Wall Street commentators have persistently and intentionally overlooked the fact that the financial meltdown is not simply composed of one bubble – the housing real estate bubble – which has already burst. In fact, the crisis has many bubbles, all of which dwarf the housing bubble burst of 2008.

Although there is no fundamental disagreement among mainstream analysts on the occurrence of an economic recovery, there is heated debate as to when it will occur, whether in the next quarter, or in the third quarter of next year, etc. Already in early 2010, the "recovery" of the U.S. economy had been predicted and confirmed through a carefully worded barrage of media disinformation. Meanwhile, the social plight of increased unemployment in America has been scrupulously camouflaged. Economists view bankruptcy as a microeconomic phenomenon.

The media reports on bankruptcies, while revealing local-level realities affecting one or more factories, fail to provide an overall picture of what is happening at the national and international levels. When all these simultaneous plant closures in towns and cities across the land are added together, a very different picture emerges: entire sectors of a national economy are closing down.

Public opinion continues to be misled as to the causes and consequences of the economic crisis, not to mention the policy solutions. People are led to believe that the economy has a logic of its own which depends on the free interplay of market forces, and that powerful financial actors, who pull the strings in the corporate boardrooms, could not, under any circumstances, have willfully influenced the course of economic events.

The relentless and fraudulent appropriation of wealth is upheld as an integral part of "the American dream", as a means to spreading the benefits of economic growth. As conveyed by Michael Hudson, the myth becomes entrenched that "without wealth at the top, there would be nothing to trickle down." Such flawed logic of the business cycle overshadows an understanding of the structural and historical origins of the global economic crisis.

Financial Fraud

Media disinformation largely serves the interests of a handful of global banks and institutional speculators which use their command over financial and commodity markets to amass vast amounts of money wealth. The corridors of the state are controlled by the corporate establishment including the speculators. Meanwhile, the "bank bailouts", presented to the public as a requisite for economic recovery, have facilitated and legitimized a further process of appropriation of wealth.

Vast amounts of money wealth are acquired through market manipulation. Often referred to as "deregulation", the financial apparatus has developed sophisticated instruments of outright manipulation and deceit. With inside information and foreknowledge, major financial actors, using the instruments of speculative trade, have the ability to fiddle and rig market movements to their advantage, precipitate the collapse of a competitor and wreck havoc in the economies of developing countries. These tools of manipulation have become an integral part of the financial architecture; they are embedded in the system.

The Failure of Mainstream Economics

The economics profession, particularly in the universities, rarely addresses the actual "real world" functioning of markets. Theoretical constructs centered on mathematical models serve to represent an abstract, fictional world in which individuals are equal. There is no theoretical distinction between workers, consumers or corporations, all of which are referred to as "individual traders". No single individual has the power or ability to influence the market, nor can there be any conflict between workers and capitalists within this abstract world.

By failing to examine the interplay of powerful economic actors in the "real life" economy, the processes of market rigging, financial manipulation and fraud are overlooked. The concentration and centralization of economic decision-making, the role of the financial elites, the economic thinks tanks, the corporate boardrooms: none of these issues are examined in the universities’ economics programs. The theoretical construct is dysfunctional; it cannot be used to provide an understanding of the economic crisis.

Economic science is an ideological construct which serves to camouflage and justify the New World Order. A set of dogmatic postulates serves to uphold free market capitalism by denying the existence of social inequality and the profit-driven nature of the system is denied. The role of powerful economic actors and how these actors are able to influence the workings of financial and commodity markets is not a matter of concern for the discipline’s theoreticians. The powers of market manipulation which serve to appropriate vast amounts of money wealth are rarely addressed. And when they are acknowledged, they are considered to belong to the realm of sociology or political science.

This means that the policy and institutional framework behind this global economic system, which has been shaped in the course of the last thirty years, is rarely analyzed by mainstream economists. It follows that economics as a discipline, with some exceptions, has not provided the analysis required to comprehend the economic crisis. In fact, its main free market postulates deny the existence of a crisis. The focus of neoclassical economics is on equilibrium, disequilibrium and "market correction" or "adjustment" through the market mechanism, as a means to putting the economy back "onto the path of self-sustained growth".

Poverty and Social Inequality

The global political economy is a system that enriches the very few at the expense of the vast majority. The global economic crisis has contributed to widening social inequalities both within and between countries. Under global capitalism, mounting poverty is not the result of a scarcity or a lack of human and material resources. Quite the opposite holds true: the economic depression is marked by a process of disengagement of human resources and physical capital. People’s lives are destroyed. The economic crisis is deep-seated.

The structures of social inequality have, quite deliberately, been reinforced, leading not only to a generalized process of impoverishment but also to the demise of the middle and upper middle income groups.

Middle class consumerism, on which this unruly model of capitalist development is based, is also threatened. Bankruptcies have hit several of the most vibrant sectors of the consumer economy. The middle classes in the West have, for several decades, been subjected to the erosion of their material wealth. While the middle class exists in theory, it is a class built and sustained by household debt.

The wealthy rather than the middle class are rapidly becoming the consuming class, leading to the relentless growth of the luxury goods economy. Moreover, with the drying up of the middle class markets for manufactured goods, a central and decisive shift in the structure of economic growth has occurred. With the demise of the civilian economy, the development of America’s war economy, supported by a whopping near-trillion dollar defense budget, has reached new heights. As stock markets tumble and the recession unfolds, the advanced weapons industries, the military and national security contractors and the up-and-coming mercenary companies (among others) have experienced a thriving and booming growth of their various activities.

War and the Economic Crisis

War is inextricably linked to the impoverishment of people at home and around the world. Militarization and the economic crisis are intimately related. The provision of essential goods and services to meet basic human needs has been replaced by a profit-driven "killing machine" in support of America’s "Global War on Terror". The poor are made to fight the poor. Yet war enriches the upper class, which controls industry, the military, oil and banking. In a war economy, death is good for business, poverty is good for society, and power is good for politics. Western nations, particularly the United States, spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year to murder innocent people in far-away impoverished nations, while the people at home suffer the disparities of poverty, class, gender and racial divides.

An outright "economic war" resulting in unemployment, poverty and disease is carried out through the free market. People’s lives are in a freefall and their purchasing power is destroyed. In a very real sense, the last twenty years of global "free market" economy have resulted, through poverty and social destitution, in the lives of millions of people.

Rather than addressing an impending social catastrophe, Western governments, which serve the interests of the economic elites, have installed a "Big Brother" police state, with a mandate to confront and repress all forms of opposition and social dissent.

The economic and social crisis has by no means reached its climax and entire countries, including Greece and Iceland, are at risk. One need only look at the escalation of the Middle East Central Asian war and the U.S.-NATO threats to China, Russia and Iran to witness how war and the economy are intimately related.

Our Analysis in this Book

The contributors to this book reveal the intricacies of global banking and its insidious relationship to the military industrial complex and the oil conglomerates. The book presents an inter- disciplinary and multi-faceted approach, while also conveying an understanding of the historical and institutional dimensions. The complex relations of the economic crisis to war, empire and worldwide poverty are highlighted. This crisis has a truly global reach and repercussions that reverberate throughout all nations, across all societies.

In Part I, the overall causes of the global economic crisis as well as the failures of mainstream economics are laid out. Michel Chossudovsky focuses on the history of financial deregulation and speculation. Tanya Cariina Hsu analyzes the role of the American Empire and its relationship to the economic crisis. John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff undertake a comprehensive review of the political economy of the crisis, explaining the central role of monetary policy. James Petras and Claudia von Werlhof provide a detailed review and critique of neoliberalism, focusing on the economic, political and social repercussions of the "free market" reforms. Shamus Cooke examines the central role of debt, both public and private.

Part II, which includes chapters by Michel Chossudovsky and Peter Phillips, analyzes the rising tide of poverty and social inequality resulting from the Great Depression.

With contributions by Michel Chossudovsky, Peter Dale Scott, Michael Hudson, Bill Van Auken, Tom Burghardt and Andrew Gavin Marshall, Part III examines the relationship between the economic crisis, National Security, the U.S.-NATO led war and world government. In this context, as conveyed by Peter Dale Scott, the economic crisis creates social conditions which favor the instatement of martial law.

The focus in Part IV is on the global monetary system, its evolution and its changing role. Andrew Gavin Marshall examines the history of central banking as well as various initiatives to create regional and global currency systems. Ellen Brown focuses on the creation of a global central bank and global currency through the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Richard C. Cook examines the debt-based monetary system as a system of control and provides a framework for democratizing the monetary system.

Part V focuses on the working of the Shadow Banking System, which triggered the 2008 meltdown of financial markets. The chapters by Mike Whitney and Ellen Brown describe in detail how Wall Street’s Ponzi scheme was used to manipulate the market and transfer billions of dollars into the pockets of the banksters.

We are indebted to the authors for their carefully documented research, incisive analysis, and, foremost, for their unbending commitment to the truth: Tom Burghardt, Ellen Brown, Richard C. Cook, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster, Michael Hudson, Tanya Cariina Hsu, Fred Magdoff, James Petras, Peter Phillips, Peter Dale Scott, Mike Whitney, Bill Van Auken and Claudia von Werlhof, have provided, with utmost clarity, an understanding of the diverse and complex economic, social and political processes which are affecting the lives of millions of people around the world.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Maja Romano of Global Research Publishers, who relentlessly oversaw and coordinated the editing and production of this book, including the creative front page concept. We wish to thank Andréa Joseph for the careful typesetting of the manuscript and front page graphics. We also extend our thanks and appreciation to Isabelle Goulet, Julie Lévesque and Drew McKevitt for their support in the revision and copyediting of the manuscript.