Hillary Clinton’s Hidden Hand on Iran, Israel/Palestine, and AfPak?

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hillary-clinton1.jpg
Glenn Kessler has written an excellent front page profile of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton titled “A Team Player Who Stands Apart” in today’s Washington Post.
I generally agree with Kessler that Hillary Clinton has shown that she can be an effective team player in Obama’s cabinet — but I’m not sure I am on the same page as Kessler that she is out of the picture on Afghanistan, Iran, and Israel/Palestine.
Kessler writes:

[Clinton] has been prone to making pronouncements and blunt comments that have put her ahead of, or out of sync with, the rest of the administration. She maintains a robust public persona — her lengthy overseas trips are filled with town hall meetings and softball television interviews — but she is largely invisible on the big issues that dominate the foreign policy agenda, including the war in Afghanistan, the attempt to engage Iran and efforts to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The very nature of point person envoys — which we have in Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell, and Dennis Ross — obscures the background role that other administration officials are playing in the crafting of policy.
Hillary Clinton is regularly briefed on all of these policy areas — and contributes at the Principals meeting to the policy discussion. The envoys brief Clinton as does Deputy Secretary of State for Policy James Steinberg – who is constantly coordinating and working well with the National Security Council’s Deputy Tom Donilon.
Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton hosted a small dinner of Iran experts organized by Policy Planning Staff Director Anne-Marie Slaughter. Richard Holbrooke, Dennis Ross, and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns participated in the dinner with a number of outside experts who were queried by Clinton and others in what was essentially a roundtable briefing for the Secretary. Slaughter has done a number of such briefing dinners, including one on Afghanistan/Pakistan.
So while Glenn Kessler is right that Clinton’s hand may not be as visible in these hot policy areas, her hand is definitely in the mix of those influencing policy and framing the challenges in discussions with President Obama.
Also, with regards to Israel/Palestine, I was pleased by Clinton’s statement last May, which Kessler reports:

In an interview with al-Jazeera in May, Clinton said about Israel: “We want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth — any kind of settlement activity.” Some experts have questioned whether the position should have remained private, since it led to such a breach in relations with Israel.

Whether the statement should have been kept private or stated in public, Clinton helped define one of the key stress points between the United States and Israel about the upcoming negotiations process — and rather than having the issue of settlements lurk in the background, her candor put it out bluntly and boldly. Few would have predicted that Hillary Clinton would have done this given the perception that she tilted more toward Israel interests and less to the Arab region while serving as a New York Senator.
And on this page, there are highlighted short audio clips from Glenn Kessler’s interview with Clinton in which she says that while not being ready to announce where we have ended up in efforts to relaunch Israel-Palestine talks, she predicts that “we will end up in a place where no Israeli government has gone before.” (here is full transcript)
That peek at what may be coming next on Israel/Palestine from Clinton is heartening and shows an awareness of the policy issue — and in my view active policy involvement as well.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

31 comments on “Hillary Clinton’s Hidden Hand on Iran, Israel/Palestine, and AfPak?

  1. tiffany jewelry says:

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  2. Carroll says:

    Posted by larry birnbaum, Sep 20 2009, 3:55PM – Link
    As it turns out, the main reason Sec Clinton shouldn’t have made such a big deal about settlements wasn’t the impact it had on the Israelis, but the impact it had on the Palestinians. As the Washington Post subsequently reported, Abbas shortly thereafter made it clear that he intended to do nothing, and simply let the Americans work on Israel for a while. And of course that’s exactly what he’s doing: the Palestinians now place this as a precondition on entering negotiations.
    So, no talks>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I have to disagree. Abbas is right to say no talks as long as Israel is expanding it’s settlements. That puts the onus on Israel..where it should be.
    Obama was the one who put that ace in Abbas’s hand when he made his Cario speech in which he said the settlements were “Illegal”…not Isreal’s “to give” as a land for peace” deal but a “requirement” on Israel to return the stolen land…that “isn’t” theirs.
    And the Arab leaders refusal to ‘talk’ about,much less ‘give’ any normalizing of relations with Israel until they quit the settlements is also the right tactic.
    Israel has played the talk game for years while it went right on confiscating land and destroying Palestine. The world is tired of the US-Israeli “talk it to death stall game”.
    Action is required.

    Reply

  3. Bart says:

    They say that today George Steph. asked Obama where he might not have put the pedal to the metal enough, and Obama failed to mention Israel. Oh, well.

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….otherwise rational Wigwag….”
    I musta missed that. Did it happen recently?

    Reply

  5. JohnH says:

    Amazing how the words “Iran” and “Ahmadinejad” can turn an otherwise rational Wigwag into a raving fanatic.
    If I were Wigwag, I wouldn’t place my trust in what the New York Times says about the Iran protests. First, it’s interesting how they manage to hype Iranian protests but disappear US ones.
    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2677
    And then there is the small matter of Judith Miller and bogus justification for the Iraq War. Anyone who thinks the Times doesn’t have an agenda in foreign policy is kidding himself. They trumpeted the official government position during Vietnam and they are still doing it in their coverage of Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran.
    As for Iran, I say, let’s support the right to protest and put a pox on repressive regimes. But to be fair, that would be putting a pox on all those illegitimate Arab regimes that Wigwag wants Israel to partner with. And actually, it would be putting a pox on Israel, which is a repressive as it gets when it comes to Palestinians under occupation, people Israel is required to protect under the Geneva Conventions it routinely violates.
    But Wigwag doesn’t care if a regime is repressive or not. Or whether people have a right to protest. Or whether people have a legitimate government. The only thing that Wigwag cares about in the Middle East is Israel and death to the Iranian regime, which, according to Ehud Barak, does not even represent an existential threat to Israel.
    http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2009/09/17/world/international-uk-israel-iran.html

    Reply

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    IDF Soldier T-Shirts Draw International Ire
    March 21, 2009 — Raphael Alexander
    The Jewish webzine Haaretz has a shocking and disturbing article about some soldiers in the IDF who are wearing racist and violent imagery on their t-shirts, INCLUDING THE RAPING OF WOMEN AND THE MURDERING OF CHILDREN, that has angered people around the world. Since the end of the Israeli campaign into Gaza Strip to destroy infrastructure and morale in an effort to show Hamas how vain an attempt it is to wage terrorism against the Jewish state, there have been allegations of war crimes against some Israeli soldiers. Much of it I wrote off as the typical propaganda that is floated by the pro-Palestine lobby, but increasingly reputable news organizations are providing evidence of it – from the soldiers themselves.
    Continues…
    http://unambig.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/idf-soldier-t-shirts-draw-international-ire/

    Reply

  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Be sure to note the photographs at the NYT’s article Wiggie cites. They were very careful not to show overhead shots of the “crowds”, instead using close up shots, taken from down low, so you cannot judge the size of the “protest”. Its an old tried and true photographic tactic.
    “It’s pretty obvious to everyone how brutal the Iranian government is to the demonstrators; many have been injured in past demonstrations and several have been killed”
    As opposed to how Israel treats peaceful protestors, protesting a wall that has been declared illegal by the UN, AND the Israeli courts??
    “According to Roger Cohen, protestors who have been arrested have been raped”
    Women’s Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP) in English, Arabic as PDF, and Hebrew as PDFPDF.
    http://www.uruknet.de/%20http://www.wofpp.org/english/home.html
    19 Septmber 2009
    Since the last month WOFPP has accompanied, with deep concern, the minor political prisoner who complained of sexual harassment by one of the guards in Hasharon Prison where she was held.
    WOFPP’s lawyer, Taghreed Jahshan, visited the prisoner many times during the recent period and has sent a very urgent letter, on 6 September 2009, to the Prisons Service Commissioner, with copies to the Central Area’s Commander and other persons of the Service Prison staff and to the Chairman of the Bar Association’s Prisons Committee.
    Since there was no reply, another urgent letter was sent on 14 September, and again it had not been answered in writing.
    The letter raised serious claims of the prisoner – verified by affidavit – according to which, following the complaint she has submitted, the Prisons Service harassed the prisoner, by transferring her to another prison to the isolation/separation wing in which criminal prisoners are being held, without any legal basis, and holding her in inhuman conditions: a stuffy, very damp cell, without any sunlight, without TV, ventilator, books (except one book she brought with her) and without handicraft materials. The prison authorities also had taken from the prisoner her head coverings. In addition, there were many ants in the cell that disturbed her sleep at night. In fact, the prisoner sat about 24 hours a day facing the walls without anything to occupy herself with.
    All these details were reported in a letter to the Prisons Service Commissioner; however he did not see fit to reply in writing concerning these claims. Even worse, probably following the letter, insecticide was sprayed in the wing. The prisoner was taken out of her cell for a few minutes and, immediately after the spraying, she was returned. As a result, she was overcome by feelings of suffocation and dizziness for some hours, and she continued to feel chest pain.
    Only on 15/9/09, after a month during which the prisoner was held in the conditions described above, she was transferred to a cell with reasonable conditions, but still in the same isolation/separation wing.
    These last days, staff members in charge at the prison where the prisoner is detained, made telephone contact with attorney Jahshan and told her that the most senior ranks handle the matter of the prisoner, aiming to find a solution for her by transferring her from the wing which she is held in.
    Our position is clear in this matter: a political prisoner should be in a political prisoners’ wing – there is no other solution.
    The same staff members promised attorney Jahshan to update her on Monday 21 September 2009. If the decision that will be taken will not meet the required objective, a plea in the prisoner’s name will immediately be submitted to the court.
    Regarding the prisoner’s complaint against sexual harassment (attorney Jahshan represents her also in this matter): The prisoner says that she will continue to fight until the guard will get the punishment he deserves.
    It should be noted that WOFPP is in close and continuous contact with the prisoner’s family which is updated on every detail.
    The minor prisoner has been held in isolation/separation for over a month and probably will have to spend the holiday of Eid-elFiter alone.
    Isolation/separation is a kind of torture
    Please write letters of protest to the Israel Prisons Service:
    Prisons Service Commissioner
    P.O. Box 81
    Ramle 72100
    Israel
    Fax: +972-8-9193800
    And to the Israeli embassy in your country.
    Palestinian families in Hebron endure illegal collective punishment by Israeli soldiers
    International Solidarity Movement
    September 20, 2009 – ISM
    Al-Khalil/Hebron, 19 September 2009: Elderly women and children were left in deep distress and two men were injured when over 40 Israeli soldiers broke into a family home in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of Hebron last night. Soldiers set off tear-gas grenades and deafening “sound-bombs” in the tightly packed entrance way to the family’s home.
    Children, still in shock, cowered behind relatives as the elderly family matriarch explained to activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) how Israeli soldiers enforcing the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank stormed into the house shortly after sundown and grabbed her by her headscarf. The soldiers demanded to know the whereabouts of local youths who they accused of throwing stones. Although the women of the household tried explain that there were no youths in the home the soldiers used the weapons to intimate and punish the local community. Household objects were smashed and the owner of the home, an elderly man, was struck by a soldier, leaving him bleeding from the collar-bone and requiring hospital treatment. A young Palestinian man passing by was beaten on the head and face by the same group of soldiers.
    ISM activists trying to photograph the events were violently forced away by soldiers. Two male activists were kicked and punched in the genitals by soldiers and a female activist who was taking photographs of the event was threatened with rape by one soldier.
    Despite being asked several times by the international activists, the soldiers refused to call the Israeli police to the scene.
    Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines the collective punishment of a population under occupation as a war crime but such acts are used as a routine method of control by Israeli forces in Hebron in which hundreds of ideologically extreme Israeli settlers, lead by Baruch Marzel, head of the Jewish National Front, have colonised houses in the city centre expelling Palestinians in the process.
    Updated on September 20, 2009

    Reply

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Be sure to note the photographs at the NYT’s article Wiggie cites. They were very careful not to show overhead shots of the “crowds”, instead using close up shots, taken from down low, so you cannot judge the size of the “protest”. Its an old tried and true photographic tactic.
    “It’s pretty obvious to everyone how brutal the Iranian government is to the demonstrators; many have been injured in past demonstrations and several have been killed”
    As opposed to how Israel treats peaceful protestors, protesting a wall that has been declared illegal by the UN, AND the Israeli courts??
    “According to Roger Cohen, protestors who have been arrested have been raped”
    Women’s Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP) in English, Arabic as PDF, and Hebrew as PDFPDF.
    http://www.uruknet.de/%20http://www.wofpp.org/english/home.html
    19 Septmber 2009
    Since the last month WOFPP has accompanied, with deep concern, the minor political prisoner who complained of sexual harassment by one of the guards in Hasharon Prison where she was held.
    WOFPP’s lawyer, Taghreed Jahshan, visited the prisoner many times during the recent period and has sent a very urgent letter, on 6 September 2009, to the Prisons Service Commissioner, with copies to the Central Area’s Commander and other persons of the Service Prison staff and to the Chairman of the Bar Association’s Prisons Committee.
    Since there was no reply, another urgent letter was sent on 14 September, and again it had not been answered in writing.
    The letter raised serious claims of the prisoner – verified by affidavit – according to which, following the complaint she has submitted, the Prisons Service harassed the prisoner, by transferring her to another prison to the isolation/separation wing in which criminal prisoners are being held, without any legal basis, and holding her in inhuman conditions: a stuffy, very damp cell, without any sunlight, without TV, ventilator, books (except one book she brought with her) and without handicraft materials. The prison authorities also had taken from the prisoner her head coverings. In addition, there were many ants in the cell that disturbed her sleep at night. In fact, the prisoner sat about 24 hours a day facing the walls without anything to occupy herself with.
    All these details were reported in a letter to the Prisons Service Commissioner; however he did not see fit to reply in writing concerning these claims. Even worse, probably following the letter, insecticide was sprayed in the wing. The prisoner was taken out of her cell for a few minutes and, immediately after the spraying, she was returned. As a result, she was overcome by feelings of suffocation and dizziness for some hours, and she continued to feel chest pain.
    Only on 15/9/09, after a month during which the prisoner was held in the conditions described above, she was transferred to a cell with reasonable conditions, but still in the same isolation/separation wing.
    These last days, staff members in charge at the prison where the prisoner is detained, made telephone contact with attorney Jahshan and told her that the most senior ranks handle the matter of the prisoner, aiming to find a solution for her by transferring her from the wing which she is held in.
    Our position is clear in this matter: a political prisoner should be in a political prisoners’ wing – there is no other solution.
    The same staff members promised attorney Jahshan to update her on Monday 21 September 2009. If the decision that will be taken will not meet the required objective, a plea in the prisoner’s name will immediately be submitted to the court.
    Regarding the prisoner’s complaint against sexual harassment (attorney Jahshan represents her also in this matter): The prisoner says that she will continue to fight until the guard will get the punishment he deserves.
    It should be noted that WOFPP is in close and continuous contact with the prisoner’s family which is updated on every detail.
    The minor prisoner has been held in isolation/separation for over a month and probably will have to spend the holiday of Eid-elFiter alone.
    Isolation/separation is a kind of torture
    Please write letters of protest to the Israel Prisons Service:
    Prisons Service Commissioner
    P.O. Box 81
    Ramle 72100
    Israel
    Fax: +972-8-9193800
    And to the Israeli embassy in your country.
    http://www.uruknet.de/index.php?p=m58128&hd=&size=1&l=e
    Palestinian families in Hebron endure illegal collective punishment by Israeli soldiers
    International Solidarity Movement
    September 20, 2009 – ISM
    Al-Khalil/Hebron, 19 September 2009: Elderly women and children were left in deep distress and two men were injured when over 40 Israeli soldiers broke into a family home in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of Hebron last night. Soldiers set off tear-gas grenades and deafening “sound-bombs” in the tightly packed entrance way to the family’s home.
    Children, still in shock, cowered behind relatives as the elderly family matriarch explained to activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) how Israeli soldiers enforcing the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank stormed into the house shortly after sundown and grabbed her by her headscarf. The soldiers demanded to know the whereabouts of local youths who they accused of throwing stones. Although the women of the household tried explain that there were no youths in the home the soldiers used the weapons to intimate and punish the local community. Household objects were smashed and the owner of the home, an elderly man, was struck by a soldier, leaving him bleeding from the collar-bone and requiring hospital treatment. A young Palestinian man passing by was beaten on the head and face by the same group of soldiers.
    ISM activists trying to photograph the events were violently forced away by soldiers. Two male activists were kicked and punched in the genitals by soldiers and a female activist who was taking photographs of the event was threatened with rape by one soldier.
    Despite being asked several times by the international activists, the soldiers refused to call the Israeli police to the scene.
    Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines the collective punishment of a population under occupation as a war crime but such acts are used as a routine method of control by Israeli forces in Hebron in which hundreds of ideologically extreme Israeli settlers, lead by Baruch Marzel, head of the Jewish National Front, have colonised houses in the city centre expelling Palestinians in the process.
    Updated on September 20, 2009

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    Speaking of brutality, WigWag, I didn`t see any comment from you on the UN report
    accusing Israel and Hamas of war crimes. Any thoughts on this? Or perhaps you share
    the opinions Nadine expressed on that thread?

    Reply

  10. WigWag says:

    For those who might be interested, here is the entire New York Timaes article about the Jerusalem Day demonstrations where thousands of Iranians took their lives in their hands to ridicule their government’s support of Hamas and Hezbollah. The chant, “No to Gaza, No to Lebanon” was discussed in this article. While opposition websites are cited in the article, as far as I can tell, they were not cited to verify the chant denigrating Iranian support of Gaza and Lebanon.
    Despite Warning, Thousands Rally in Iran
    By ROBERT F. WORTH
    Published: September 18, 2009
    BEIRUT, Lebanon — Tens of thousands of protesters chanted and carried banners through the heart of Tehran and other Iranian cities on Friday, hijacking a government-organized anti-Israel march and injecting new life into the country’s opposition movement.
    The protests, held in defiance of warnings from the clerical and military elite, served as a public embarrassment to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had hoped to showcase national unity just two weeks before he is set to meet Western leaders for talks on Iran’s nuclear program.
    He used the annual rally for Jerusalem Day, also known as Quds Day, to deliver a fiery anti-Israeli speech in which he called the Holocaust “a lie” and impugned the West again for its criticisms of Iran’s disputed June 12 presidential election.
    But his efforts to recapture the stage were largely drowned out by a tumultuous day of street rallies, in which the three main opposition leaders marched with their followers for the first time in months. Flouting the official government message of support for Palestinian militants, they chanted, “No to Gaza and Lebanon, I will give my life for Iran.”
    Coming a day after President Obama announced a revised missile defense system that aims to check Iran’s military ambitions, the rallies underscored the continuing vitality of the domestic opposition movement, which has rejected the election as fraudulent and fiercely criticized the violence that followed it.
    In a striking contrast with earlier rallies, the police often stood on the sidelines as protesters faced off against huge crowds of government supporters — many of them bused in from outside the cities — and chain-wielding Basij militia members. There were reports of arrests in Tehran and the southern city of Shiraz, but no shootings or deaths, with the police apparently showing greater restraint than during earlier protests.
    The protesters, ignoring stern official warnings not to use the annual pro-Palestinian rally as a pretext for demonstrations, showed up in large numbers wearing the trademark bright green color of the opposition.
    When government men shouted “Death to Israel” through loudspeakers, protesters derisively chanted “Death to Russia” in response. Many opposition supporters are angry about Russia’s quick acceptance of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s electoral victory.
    The three opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami, joined the crowds in Tehran for the first time in months, drawing cheers.
    Later, Basij militia members tried to attack Mr. Khatami and Mr. Karroubi, but defenders pushed them back, opposition Web sites reported.
    The government had largely halted street protests in July, with a harsh government crackdown that left dozens of marchers dead and thousands in jail. But the authorities have been unable to silence the opposition’s leaders, who have kept up their criticism of the election and the government’s violent response.
    The opposition leaders raised tensions when they leveled accusations that some protesters were tortured and raped in prison. The rape accusations have been especially embarrassing for the government, which has denied them while acknowledging that some prisoners were tortured.
    There were reports of similar demonstrations and clashes in other cities Friday, including Isfahan, Tabriz, Yazd and Shiraz, where protesters skirmished with Basij militiamen, and freed a group of fellow protesters who were being arrested, opposition Web sites reported
    The government had largely halted street protests in July, with a harsh government crackdown that left dozens of marchers dead and thousands in jail. But the authorities have been unable to silence the opposition’s leaders, who have kept up their criticism of the election and the government’s violent response.
    The opposition leaders raised tensions when they leveled accusations that some protesters were tortured and raped in prison. The rape accusations have been especially embarrassing for the government, which has denied them while acknowledging that some prisoners were tortured.
    There were reports of similar demonstrations and clashes in other cities Friday, including Isfahan, Tabriz, Yazd and Shiraz, where protesters skirmished with Basij militiamen, and freed a group of fellow protesters who were being arrested, opposition Web sites reported.
    In the capital, the police and huge crowds of government supporters blocked most protesters from approaching Mr. Ahmadinejad as he arrived in a bulletproof car at Tehran University to deliver a speech before the formal Friday Prayer sermon. But as he began his remarks, chants of “Resign! Resign!” could be heard, according to witnesses cited on opposition Web sites.
    Mr. Ahmadinejad said that confrontation with Israel was a “national and religious duty” and that the Holocaust was “a lie” that was used as a pretext for the country’s creation in 1948. Although he has called the Holocaust a “myth” in the past, provoking angry reactions in the West, he has rarely if ever used the word “lie” in public speeches.
    The White House responded sharply to the remarks about the Holocaust. “We’ve heard that type of rhetoric before,” the president’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters. “Obviously, we condemn what he said.”
    The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, said Friday that Mr. Obama would not meet with Mr. Ahmadinejad next week when world leaders gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meeting.
    Mr. Obama, in a major national security reversal, scuttled his predecessor’s missile-shield plan to focus instead on protecting Israel and Europe against short- and medium-range Iranian missiles. Mr. Ahmadinejad made no mention of that in his speech, nor has his government responded.
    Both the revised missile plan and Mr. Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel rhetoric are likely to elevate the tensions surrounding his visit to the United Nations.
    As Jerusalem Day approached, a number of conservative figures, including Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that the day should not become an occasion for domestic discontent. On Thursday, the Revolutionary Guards issued an especially fierce statement, declaring that all protesters would be treated as Israeli spies.
    But the government appears to have treated Friday’s protests with relative leniency. Although tear gas was fired at some crowds in central Tehran — it was not clear by whom — there was no renewal of the fierce crackdown that took place in June and July.
    Although the marchers celebrating Jerusalem Day generally outnumbered the protesters, there were parts of the city where the opposite was true. Often, the protesters slyly distorted the traditional rallying cries of the pro-government crowds. When the marchers chanted, “The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader,” protesters countered with, “The blood in our veins is a gift to our nation.”
    At one point thousands of protesters chanting “death to the dictator” as they walked down Valiasr Street, the broad avenue that runs across much of Tehran, collided with an equally large crowd of pro-government marchers chanting slogans against Israel, the United States and Britain.
    A standoff ensued. Police officers standing nearby refused to take sides, and in some cases even stepped in to break up fights. Finally, several trucks full of government supporters arrived, and the protesters began withdrawing.
    Iranian state television ignored the protests, showing thousands of marchers clad in checked Palestinian-style scarves, carrying posters of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Jerusalem Day, held on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan, is an important occasion for the government, which uses its support for Palestinian militants and the Lebanese Hezbollah to burnish its street support in an Arab world that is largely hostile to Iran.
    Nazila Fathi contributed reporting from Toronto, and Jeff Zeleny from Washington.
    It’s pretty obvious to everyone how brutal the Iranian government is to the demonstrators; many have been injured in past demonstrations and several have been killed. According to Roger Cohen, protestors who have been arrested have been raped. Despite the danger, Iranians are willing to take to the streets to show their contempt for their government’s support of Hamas and Hezbollah.
    It seems to me that the commentators at the Washington Note who are the Islamaphobes are the ones who defend a government that attacks and kills its own people; who are by the way, almost all Muslim.

    Reply

  11. arthurdecco says:

    Islamophobia sounds…well…almost benign when faced with the Reality of its proponents like WigWag – a sociopathic monster by any rational measure.

    Reply

  12. larry birnbaum says:

    As it turns out, the main reason Sec Clinton shouldn’t have made such a big deal about settlements wasn’t the impact it had on the Israelis, but the impact it had on the Palestinians. As the Washington Post subsequently reported, Abbas shortly thereafter made it clear that he intended to do nothing, and simply let the Americans work on Israel for a while. And of course that’s exactly what he’s doing: the Palestinians now place this as a precondition on entering negotiations.
    So, no talks.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I just hope the CIA or Mossad or other intelligence services are doing everything they can in support of the Iranian people by undermining the regime Iranians hate so much. PERSONALLY I WOULD LIKE TO SEE AIR STRIKES AIMED AT KILLING AHMAKINEJAD AND AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI.”
    And I’m sure this jackass Wig-wag will squeal like a stuffed pig if Iran “defends itself”.
    Can you imagine his reaction if one of us advocated that Iran assassinate Netanyau? We’d be instantly barraged with with “anti-semite bombs”.
    But do we dare accuse Wigbat of Islamophobia?

    Reply

  14. arthurdecco says:

    Wig Wag: “I just hope the CIA or Mossad or other intelligence services are doing everything they can in support of the Iranian people by undermining the regime Iranians hate so much. PERSONALLY I WOULD LIKE TO SEE AIR STRIKES AIMED AT KILLING AHMAKINEJAD AND AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI.” (emphasis added)
    What a twisted Psychopathic Upchuck you are, Wiggy

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What Did Ahmadinejad Really Say?
    By Robert Parry
    Consortium News
    September 19, 2009
    It is an important principle of journalism that when someone makes a statement, especially a controversial one with grave implications, the comment should be put in the fullest possible context so the reader can make an informed judgment. But that rule doesn’t seem to apply when the New York Times writes about Iranian President .
    In a front-page story on Saturday, the Times three times (once in a sub-head and twice in the article) reported that Ahmadinejad called the World War II Holocaust of European Jews a “lie” during an annual “Quds Day” speech showing solidarity with the Palestinian people. But the Times offered no fuller context for the quote.
    The White House and other U.S. officials reacted to the “lie” remark, which also was featured in other Western news accounts, with understandable outrage. However, Iran’s Press TV reported that “Ahmadinejad did not deny the Holocaust, but raised some questions about the matter, asking Western powers for a logical answer.”
    Press TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying: “If the Holocaust, as you claim, is true, why don’t you allow a probe into the issue?” Press TV added that Ahmadinejad was “calling the Zionist regime a symbol of lies and deception founded on ‘colonialist’ attitudes. The Iranian president also asked why Palestinians had to pay for the genocide of Jews at the hands of Europeans.”
    So what did Ahmadinejad really say?
    In the English-language account of the speech published on the official Web site of the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad calls the “pretext” for founding the state of Israel “a lie,” but he doesn’t spell out precisely what he means by “pretext.” In the context, the word seems to refer to the Holocaust, but arguably his reference to “a lie which relies on … a mythical claim” could be about Biblical claims to the land of Palestine that Zionist organizations cite.
    As Press TV says, Ahmadinejad frames his skeptical comments about the Holocaust within Western hostility toward the scholarship of some European and American Holocaust skeptics (often called “deniers”) who dispute details such as the estimated number of six million Jews killed by the Nazis.
    But some of that supposed scholarship has been widely viewed as an excuse by neo-fascists and anti-Semites to diminish the horror of the Nazi extermination campaign against Jews and other groups considered undesirable by Adolf Hitler and his German Third Reich.
    If you wish to make up your own mind about Ahmadinejad’s “lie” comment, here is his office’s English-language summary of the speech, which was delivered in Farsi, the Persian language:
    “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Friday that the Holocaust black box should be opened.
    “Addressing Tehrani Friday prayers worshipers as pre-sermon lecturer, President Ahmadinejad said, ‘Our call over the past four years has been if the Holocaust claimed by the Zionist regime and its allies is true, why they (Zionists and westerners) do not allow any research on it?’
    “President Ahmadinejad said research on everything is free but Holocaust is the key to a sealed fact and black box.
    “He went on questioning, ‘When the event is so much important for which a land is occupied, such a war is waged, millions of people are killed, injured and made homeless, thousands of families are ruined and the Middle East is kept under the shadow of insecurity, why the black box should not be decoded so that facts and realities are revealed to all?’
    “He said Palestine is still the most important issue of the world of Islam. ‘We do believe that if war is waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is because of Zionists’ provocation. If Sudan is suppressed it is because of Zionists’ temptations. Zionists are behind all the conspiracies of the arrogance and colonialism. They do not allow the main factor of excuses for Palestine occupation be examined and surveyed.’
    “He added, ‘The pretext for establishing the Zionist regime is a lie; a lie which relies on an unreliable claim, a mythical claim, and the occupation of Palestine has nothing to do with the Holocaust.’
    “The Iranian Chief Executive said Iranian nation once again announced today that are standing firm in defense of Islamic Revolution aspirations and of the late Imam Khomeini.
    “He said Iranian nation will never lay down the flag of dignity, pride and freedom loving.
    “He then noted that the World Quds Day marks unity of Iranian nation and the world Muslims.
    “President Ahmadinejad said the World Quds Day is the day of unity of the community of human beings against the corrupt and tyrannical powers.”
    Though interpretations of Ahmadinejad’s words can be debated, two things appear undeniable. First, Ahmadinejad continues to make provocative statements that are offensive to many people around the world.
    And second, the New York Times and other Western news organizations are failing to live up to their own principles of objectivity, apparently out of an intense animosity toward Iran’s president.
    Shortly after Iran’s disputed presidential election in June, a “news analysis” coauthored by New York Times executive editor Bill Keller opened up with an old joke about Ahmadinejad looking into a mirror and saying “male lice to the right, female lice to the left,” a reference to his rise from the street.
    Later, the Times editors joined defeated candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi in rejecting the notion of a vote recount by Iran’s Guardian Council, which oversees elections. The Mousavi camp instead demanded an entirely new election, which they failed to get.
    “Even a full recount would be suspect,” the Times wrote in an editorial. “How could anyone be sure that the ballots were valid?”
    But the resistance of Mousavi and his backers to a partial or complete recount prevented the uncovering of solid evidence that might have proven that Ahmadinejad did rig the election, a point that has become conventional wisdom in the Western media but which lacks solid proof (unlike, for instance, the widespread evidence of fraud in the recent Afghan election.)
    Mousavi’s rigging case rests primarily on the argument that Ahmadinejad ran up large majorities in poor districts because he had distributed food and raised pay, tactics that may be criticized as the workings of “a political machine,” but normally don’t fall under the definition of electoral fraud. [For more on the Iranian election, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Taking Sides on Iran.”]
    As tensions with Iran mount, it is easy for U.S. news organizations to cast aside journalistic principles in favor of looking tough and patriotic. In a similar context, when America’s top enemy was Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein, the Times and other major U.S. news outlets helped whip up a war fever and contributed to a political climate that equated questioning U.S. government claims with a lack of patriotism and even sympathy for Hussein.
    The chief consequence of that violation of journalistic standards was an aggressive war that has left more than 4,300 U.S. soldiers dead along with estimates of hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis.
    Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek.
    http://atheonews.blogspot.com/2009/09/what-did-ahmadinejad-really-say.html

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  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And here is the direct quotes from the NYT’s article Wig-wag cites, as to sourcing….
    “There were reports”…(sources unamed)
    “opposition Web sites reported”
    “opposition Web sites reported”
    “according to witnesses cited on opposition Web sites”

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  17. JohnH says:

    Wishful thinking, Wigwag, with no facts to support your point of view. Yes, Tehran had a “tumultuous day of street protests.” So did Washington when the astroturf teabaggers came to town last weekend. And your point is?
    Maybe some Iranians are sick of their government’s support for Palestinians, but you can show absolutely no data to back up your assertion.
    However, what we can say for certain is that a significant minority of Americans don’t approve of American support for Israel. And solid majorities are sick of the endless, pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But do you hear anyone running around saying the government of the United States is illegitimate? Sadly not. At least not yet.

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  18. WigWag says:

    I’m afraid, JohnH, that you are mistaken about the Iranian people. In fact, it would seem that a significant portion if not a majority of Iranians are sick of the Palestinians (at least they’re sick of Hamas) and they’ve had it with Hezbollah. Iranians are far more interested in a rapprochement with the United States than they are with supporting Lebanese or Palestinian terrorism. The only real question is whether the United States is more popular in Iran or whether the Mullahs are.
    Just two days ago Mahmoud Ahmadinejad participated in an Al Quds day rally in Tehran. It’s the one where he said the holocaust was “a lie.”
    Unfortunately for Ahmadinejad and for naive leftist supporters of the Iranian regime, the Iranian people disagree.
    The New York Times reporter (Rovert W. Wirth) covered it this way,
    “But Ahmadinejad’s efforts to recapture the stage were largely drowned out by a tumultuous day of street rallies, in which the three main opposition leaders marched with their followers for the first time in months. Flouting the official government message of support for Palestinian militants, they chanted, “No to Gaza and Lebanon, I will give my life for Iran.”
    Quite interesting to have thousands of Iranians risking life and limb to hold unauthorized demonstrations where they chant “No to Gaza, No to Lebanon” don’t you think?
    It’s funny how so many people who thought the Shah was a butcher now try to suggest that the current regime, that Iranians hate as much as they hated the Shah, is entitled to some type of sympathy.
    I just hope the CIA or Mossad or other intelligence services are doing everything they can in support of the Iranian people by undermining the regime Iranians hate so much. Personally I would be delighted to see air strikes aimed at killing Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But even if that’s not feasible, it’s pretty clear that the days of rule by the Mullahs are numbered.
    “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon.”
    Wow!
    How long will it be before Israelis and Persians are working together against the Arabs?
    Don’t think it’s possible?
    Stranger things have happened.

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    Posted by JohnH, Sep 20 2009, 1:39PM>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Ditto.
    My thinking also.

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  20. JohnH says:

    The foreign policy mob’s Iran narrative takes another hit. Jim Lobe reports that there is strong domestic support for the Iranian regime inside Iran!
    http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48510
    If TWN readers recall, Steve was one of the first to join the Ahmadinejad lynch mob, which was probably instigated by Israeli hasbara, the neocons, and the State Department. Even before the results were in, Steve was condemning the result as illegitimate and gladly reporting reports of fraud!
    As Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Now that the truth has finally gotten its shoes on, we see that the conventional wisdom about the Iranian election fraud is just another “made for TV” fantasy, the latest in a series: the “story” about the Iranian nuclear weapons program, for which there is no evidence, and the one about Iranian meddling in Iraq, for which they could never find evidence.
    So what was Hillary talking about with her little coterie of expert Iran mobsters? My guess is that they were probably brainstorming on the next big phony news story to foist on the American people. After all, how can you get Iran under American control without a nice little war? And how can you get the American people to let you start a war without credible propaganda?
    Sounds like Hillary and her coterie of expert Iranian mobsters have their work cut out for them! And their task is all the more difficult if Iranians consider their regime legitimate.

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  21. Carroll says:

    Posted by Kathleen, Sep 19 2009, 8:21PM>>>>
    Totally agree.
    Rachel and Olbermann are boring and chldish…clowns on the left like the clowns on the right.
    All the pundits are just noise and political “gossip” columnist.
    In fact I don’t watch anything on TV any more except c-span and BBC now and then.

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  22. Carroll says:

    “Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton hosted a small dinner of Iran experts organized by Policy Planning Staff Director Anne-Marie Slaughter, Richard Holbrooke, Dennis Ross,”
    These aren’t the people I would be consulting on Iran.
    And Kessler is wrong here or toeing the line…..”Some experts have questioned whether the position should have remained private, since it led to such a breach in relations with Israel”……it was not some “Experts”..it was some members of “congress” and the zio camp that raised the fuss about Obama discussing Israel in public. And we all know why.
    Watching Hillary’s statements on I-P and Iran etc, sometimes she says what Obama has said and other times she strikes out on her own with statements alluding to bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. Politican do that all the time, say one thing today and a different thing tomorrow, contridicting themselves, changing their tune, throwing a bone to one side then throwing another bone to the other side because they think the public isn’t keeping score or paying that much attention.
    Hillary may think she still has a chance at the WH and keeps that in mind in her StDep policy positions and dog whistles but frankly I think her time has passed.

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  23. JamesL says:

    I concur with POA and Dan Kervick, especially: “Many progressives of dim and flickering hopes will conclude that if even overwhelming Senate and House majorities, along with a Democratic president, can’t deliver on a progressive agenda, well then the Democratic Party no longer serves any useful purpose and it is time to blow it up.”
    Since the election the Dems have taken the tack that they can do whatever /act however they want. Belly up to the federal bar. Nose into the federal trough. They forget that they came by their majority by way of a lot of people giving 5 bucks they hardly had to give.
    If the Dems don’t get some mojo working very very soon, like by next Wednesday, what I want to see is some serious talk and action on forming a new party that leaves these losers in the dust where they belong. No one voted for them to watch them screw up week after week after week after week after……..

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  24. Dan Kervick says:

    POA’s comments are completely on target. And when one reads the dismaying list of names who are now making Middle East policy for this administration, it is very hard to maintain hope for sanity and progress. Ross? Clinton? Holbrooke? Only George Mitchel offers a flicker of a glimmer of a basis for optimism.
    Obama made some terrible personnel decisions during his transition and the first few months of his administration, when there was a brief window of opportunity for constructive change in US policies – whether he made those decisions for political reasons or because they reflected his own sincere opinions, I can’t say – but as a result we are all once-again faced with an uphill Middle East slog against long political odds.
    But there were a few pieces of good recent news: the announcement that the US will be talking to Iran soon via the P5+1, and Ehud Barak’s welcome and unexpected declaration that Iran is not an existential threat to Israel. We also had the leak of a new US intelligence finding that confirms the earlier finding that Iran is not currently working on nuclear weapons. Certainly there are at least some people in the administration who are serious about moving beyond the current crummy situation of Iranian isolation and flakiness and Israeli hysteria and criminal intransigence. My prayer is that it is Obama himself who is serious. But who knows?
    But if it were all up to the attitudes inside our own government, chances of sanity would be dismal. Our only hope is that the Europeans and other powers will continue to prevail on the US to get its head out of its ass, and that massive US interests and partnerships in those other parts of the world will ultimately win out over the parochial concerns, corrupt alliances, greed and criminal neglect of long-term security that characterizes the Washington foreign policy leadership inside our two parties.
    Some days, I convince myself that all the saber-ratting and tough talk about Iran and its oh-do-dangerous, non-existent non-nukes is just a game to prepare a tough bargaining position for talks. But Netanyahu, Bill Kristol, John Hannah and friends seem very serious about this talk. It’s no game for them. Could Barak’s statement, in conjuntion with the intelligence report and announcement of talks, be part of a coordinated Obama administration and Israeli labor effort to nudge the Netanyahu-Lieberman abomination from power? Let’s hope.
    One thing I know: A war with Iran will destroy the Democratic Party – forever, for good. If Obama manages to get a serious health care package and then makes real progress on the Middle East front, it will be a triumph. But if health care loses out to the insurance lobbies and Baucus-Snowe-care, and then the Middle East goes from bad to worse, the Democrats are screwed. Many progressives of dim and flickering hopes will conclude that if even overwhelming Senate and House majorities, along with a Democratic president, can’t deliver on a progressive agenda, well then the Democratic Party no longer serves any useful purpose and it is time to blow it up.

    Reply

  25. Paul Norheim says:

    I guess Rachel Maddow FEELS she has some control
    over her program when she can bash George Bush (the
    “lame duck” series) and Cheney as much as she
    wants, just weeks before they are forced to leave
    The White House anyhow.

    Reply

  26. WigWag says:

    Anyone who wants to know if Hillary Clinton plans to run for President in 2016 should watch how actively she involves herself in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and in Af/Pak policy.
    The dispute between Israelis and Palestinians and the War in Afghanistan are politically toxic. Both have immense political downside and extremely little political upside.
    Even in the unlikely event that the Obama Administration can make dramatic progress or even achieve a breakthrough in either conflict, the compromises needed to make that progress will be wrenching.
    If Clinton has abandoned her presidential ambitions (which I doubt) expect her to get actively involved. She’s a leader and her natural inclination is to be assertive.
    But if she still wants to be President, expect her to stay as far away as possible from both conflicts.
    She’s not stupid; she knows a loser when she sees it.

    Reply

  27. Kathleen says:

    Keith covered somewhat what was going on in the Gaza. Did Rachel touch it?
    I have been amazed at how often I hear RAchel repeat the unsubstantiated claims about an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Somehow the reports from the Iaea just do not rate on her program “no hard evidence” to back up these endlessly repeated claims.
    I have also heard RAchel repeat the debunked (by Professor Juan Cole) claim that the Iranian President said “wipe Israel off the map” The direct translation according to Cole is “Zionism will vanish from the pages of history” A far cry from “wiping Israel off the map”
    Rachel has repeated this so many times I can not keep count.
    The one report that Rachel did about the 9 time delayed Aipac trial being dismissed was totally a joke. She had spooky music playing and made a lark about the seriousness of the investigation and dismissed trial.
    Telling that Ed, Rachel, Chris, Olbermann all ignored the UN report.
    I met Chris Matthews at the Libby trial. Had a ten minute conversation with him about Katrina and then asked him why he never touched the I/P conflict (all ready knowing what the answer would likely be) Matthews said “I don’t control the programming at MSNBC”
    I believe RAchel and Keith have indicated that they do feel they have some control over the programming of their programming. So why in the hell would they ignore this critical report.
    Ed has Laura Flanders on quite often and Katrina from the Nation. wondering if any of them will ever bring up the report
    Brian Williams had Carter on to talk about the racism issue the day the report came out. Not a whisper out of Brian Williams or Carter

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  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Maddow and Olberman have NEVER said anything about the sewttlement issue either. Nor do I recall them reporting on Operation Cast Lead. Nina thinks it because they are both Jews who are sympathetic to the zionist agenda. Whatever the reason, it just underscores the extinction of the Fourth Estate, and puts Maddow and Olberman in the same category as Limbaugh and Hannity; Media whores.

    Reply

  29. Kathleen says:

    Hoping that Flynt Leverett, Professor Juan Cole to the dinner. That is if they want to have a wide range of opinions and expertise.
    Can you imagine them every inviting Professor Norman Finkelstein to one of their dinners about the middle east?
    Hillary is definitely one of the folks knowingly repeating unsubstantiated claims about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Have heard her say several times that they have or are developing a nuclear weapons program.
    Hillary along with so many other folks who voted for the war in Iraq just do not seem to care or listen to what the heads of the Iaea have to say.
    Did anyone else notice how not one of those so called liberal media folks (Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Ed )did not even whisper about the Goldstone UN report about Israel’s war crimes in the Gaza. Not one even whispered about the report
    They needed to keep telling us about Joe “you lied” Wilson’s rants for the hundredth time.

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  30. DonS says:

    I guess the whole settlement freeze thing was like a sort of trial shot across the bow by Pres. Obama. For whatever that was worth (and I think I’m being pretty optimistic here). Looks pretty limp right now. Anyone have a more positive spin on it?

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Are we to ignore the two separate AIPAC financed junkets to Israel that a large number of our Congress, left and right, used to criticize Obama’s stance on the settlements???
    It amazes me that anyone thinks Obama can make inroads on a peace process when the Majority Leader, and many others work actively and publically to derail his efforts.
    I detect a tone of optimism in Steve’s post that seems a bit focused towards influencing opinions of his readers in lieu of actually accurately assessing events and policy direction. Netanyahu’s arrogance on the settlement issue, Mitchell’s repeated failure to coax concessions out of Israel, Israel’s dishonest public announcements about a temporary settlement freeze THAT DOESN’T EXIST, and Reid and Hoyers’ open and blatant disrespect for Obama’s stated policy advocations are ALL points that are conspicuously missing from Steve’s essay.
    It is obviuous that Netanyahu’s arrogance and intransigence on the settlement issue is advanced from a position of power that was, in a large part, instilled upon him by our Majority Leader’s actions in both Israel and here stateside. Widely publicized letters to Obama, asking him to “back off” on his settlement stance, and apply more “heat” on the Palestinians. Then we have Hoyer and Reid making public statements to the Israelis and their media, that directly undermines Obama’s position on the settlements.
    None of this matters? Honest essays about the Isr/Pal/USA dynamic can be written without taking up these issues?
    Now, in addition, we have the Goldstone Report, which will further take the public’s eyes off of the settlement issue. Already our Congresspeople are tripping over themselves in their eagerness to get before the podium and discredit this report. Tackling the settlement issue was tough enough without this distraction. But now the two issues will be purposely intermingled, propagandized as an anti-Israel anti-semitic attack on Israel by the UN. Obama will not dare to embrace the Goldstone Report, and will heave a sigh of relief that his tepid, ineffective, and rebuked stance on the settlements will now be obscured by the debate over the Goldstone Report.
    And Hillary??? Who the hell trusts her on this issue? She was the AIPAC darling of choice during the primaries, and these limp terms like “unhelpful” are hardly the vocabularty of one who intends to play hardball. Ever seen the hawkbitch EVER say a single word about Tristan Anderson, even when Israel said “tough shit, we ain’t paying the costs for Tristan’s care”??
    Then we have this idiot “White House Spokesman” Gibbs talking about an Iranian “illicit nuclear weapons program” during a press conference that might as well have been, if it wasn’t, scripted in Tel Aviv. What “illicit nuclear weapons program”? I gotta believe he speaks for the White House, thats his job, ain’t it? So, what more proof do we need that Israel faxes Congress and the White House their marching orders everyday?
    Steve talks as though this charade is something other than a scripted sideshow whose conclusion has already been written in Tel Aviv. But all the actual developments point to Israeli supremacy over United States policy as it pertains to the Palestinians and Iran. And odds are, Hillary thinks the Israeli’s wrote in the perfect part for her to play, and she’s playing it superbly. You’d think she’d be offended that they cast her as a whore.

    Reply

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