Yes, Aunt Mildred, these brown-colored people are human too.
Yes, Aunt Mildred, these brown-colored people are human too.
It is a ludicrous situation when anyone criticizing Israeli state violations against Palestinians or neighbouring countries is then instantly discredited as being “antisemitic”.
We see this in Britain and the United States all the time. Congresswomen like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have been denounced for being “anti-Jewish”, including by President Trump, simply because they protested Israeli policy of occupying Palestinian lands or for having a malign influence on US foreign policy.
In Britain, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his party have once again this week been vilified as “antisemitic” in prominent news media.
The reality is that Corbyn is neither racist or anti-Jewish. The specious allegation stems from him and sections of Labour being vehemently critical of Israel and its conduct towards Palestinians.
If elected in the general election next month, Labour says it will cut military trade with Israel and move to officially recognize a Palestinian state.
This conflation of valid criticism of the Israeli state with being “anti-Jew” is a cynical distortion which is wielded to give Israel impunity from international law. It plays on moral blackmail of critics by equating the historical persecution of Jews and in particular the Nazi holocaust with the sanctity of the modern Israeli state.
That distortion is exposed by many Jews themselves who have spoken out in the US and in Britain to defend the right of people to criticize Israeli policies. They understand the vital distinction between the Israeli state and the much wider existence of Jewishness. They understand that to be opposed to Israeli state practices is in no way to mean animus towards Jews in general.
Only in the past week, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his government intends to expand annexation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank. The land occupied by Israeli forces since the 1967 Six Day War is illegally occupied, according to multiple UN resolutions under international law. Now Netanyahu wants to increase the violations. And with the support of the Trump administration which also announced it was no longer viewing Israeli settlements on Palestinian land as illegitimate.
Over the past month, the Israeli military has stepped up airstrikes on the Gaza Strip where nearly two million Palestinians subsist in abject poverty largely because of an Israeli blockade. One family of nine, including children, was killed by an airstrike on their home on November 14. As always the death toll among Palestinian civilians is grotesquely disproportionate to Israeli victims of rockets fired from Gaza.
Israeli forces have also been carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria, including the capital Damascus, over the past year. Russia, among others, has condemned those attacks as “unlawful aggression”. Arguably, war crimes.
When Jeremy Corbyn and Britain’s Labour Party and a handful of American politicians speak out to denounce Israeli violations they are doing so to uphold international law and voice support for victims of state violence. That is a principled and honourable position.
Shamefully, the US and British governments and much of the corporate news media never do speak out. They shield Israeli leaders from international accountability by vetoing UN resolutions or by turning a blind eye. Pro-Israeli lobbies funnel massive donations to politicians in Washington on both sides of the aisle, and to the British Conservative Party. Their silence is bought. Not only silence but outright distortion, such as when people criticize Israeli malfeasance – and there is much of that – then they are absurdly character-assassinated as “antisemites”.
Admittedly, many British Jews phoned into radio stations this week to complain that they feel unwelcome in Britain due to what they perceive as growth in antisemitism under the Labour Party. To be fair though, their claims were not backed up by hard evidence of specifically anti-Jewish behaviour. They were eliding their Jewishness with Labour’s criticism of Israel.
The claims made against Corbyn this week by the British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirviz of being “unfit for office” because of an alleged complacent attitude towards antisemitism in his party should be put in context.
Corbyn has apologized several times for a tiny fraction (less than 0.1 per cent) of party members accused of antisemitism. Why should he be obliged to keep on apologizing, as BBC interviewer Andrew Neil imperiously demanded again this week?
Chief Rabbi Mirviz is a self-declared friend of Conservative leader Boris Johnson and an ardent, uncritical supporter of the Israeli state.
Mirviz does not represent all British Jews, as many other Jewish groups came out voicing their support for Corbyn and his valid right of free speech to criticize Israel.
Mirviz got prominent media coverage for his views this week in the London Times and Daily Mail, among others. Britain’s rightwing media are owned by billionaire oligarchs who despise Labour’s manifesto for progressive wealth redistribution.
Official race-hate figures for Britain show that physical attacks against British Muslims are preponderantly more than attacks against any other religious minority, including Jews. Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have evident problems of fomenting Islamophobia. Yet we don’t see British media providing proportionate criticism on that to balance their focus on Corbyn and his alleged views.The antisemitic card is played to shield Israel from important criticism; and by Britain’s plutocrats and their media who would rather see the public squabbling over spurious claims about antisemitism so they can keep on plundering wealth from the majority of British people.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
NOVEMBER 18, 2019
He’s a very tall man with bright eyes and a broad smile, and he holds out a great paw when he greets you. But Michael Lynk is no gentle giant.
He may teach human rights law at the Western University in London, Ontario, but as the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, he has to endure the fury of Israel and its acolytes abroad – not least in his native Canada – and, two years ago, even the enmity of his own country’s foreign minister.
In his latest UN report, he reminds readers that the creation of Israel’s “civilian settlements” in occupied territory is a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a “war crime” under the Rome Statute. So you can see why the 67-year old Lynk, a labour lawyer by training, has been having a tough time since his appointment to the voluntary, unpaid UN post three years ago.
When Lynk was appointed special rapporteur, Stephane Dion, then Justin Trudeau’s foreign minister, spotted that UN Watch, a pro-Israeli lobby, had called Lynk “antisemitic” – the usual slur for anyone who criticises the actions of the Israeli government – and suggested that he be forced to resign. Dion soon lost his foreign minister’s job and his career went downhill.
Lynk’s went in the other direction. He became a gadfly to all who stand accused of breaking international law in the Middle East. Hamas is certainly not spared in his report; he accuses the Islamist militia in charge of Gaza of “beatings, arbitrary arrest and detentions, and torture and ill treatment” of hundreds of Palestinian protestors. But the opposition to him wasn’t about his even-handedness.
Dion took these shoddy arguments [from UN Watch] and used them to re-tweet his opposition to my appointment,” Lynk told me. “I would have thought a former academic would have looked at my writings before saying this – but I guess he was just the ‘politician Dion’. I always find it surprising that someone could be deemed radical for insisting on the functioning of international law.”
Lynk rather disingenuously told me he’s just “a stodgy absent-minded law professor with two kids” – which may or may not be true – but in his report, he is far from stodgy in his attacks on the decades of Israeli occupation.
Try this paragraph, for example: “No occupation in the modern world has been conducted with the international community so alert to its many grave breaches of international law, so knowledgeable about the [Israeli] occupiers’ obvious and well-signalled intent to annex and establish permanent sovereignty, so well-informed about the scale of suffering and dispossession endured by the protected [Palestinian] population under occupation, and yet so unwilling to act upon the overwhelming evidence before it…”
Reading this and subsequent paragraphs in his 23-page report, it’s clear that Lynk not only writes the truth; even more dangerously, he knows how to write. Eloquence is only rarely discovered in the UN’s house of cards.
The Israeli government has not even replied to Lynk’s requests to visit the Palestinian lands occupied since 1967 – most of his first hand-witness accounts are acquired in Amman or via video-conference between Jordan and Gaza – but he concentrates not so much on the willful suppression of the Palestinians but on the moral question of accountability.
Here he is, for example, on Israel’s failure to account for its exercise of power: “The enemies of accountability are impunity and exceptionalism,” he writes, “…Those who maintain that they are exempt from the directions of our international legal and diplomatic order not only defy the rule of law, but they also fail the test of political realism. For no country can sustain for long its standing and influence among the community of nations if it asserts special arguments forbidden to others … Impunity anywhere is a danger to justice everywhere.”
Israel, Lynk adds, “has rightly assessed that the international community – particularly the western industrial nations – has lacked the political will to compel an end to its impunity.” He even quotes the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, who wrote that “no country is as dependent on the support of the international community as Israel, yet Israel allows itself to defy the world as few dare”.
What Lynk calls the “occu-annexation” of Palestinian territories is “endlessly sustainable without decisive international intervention”. He suggests – and here is the nub of the matter – that the world should “take the necessary steps to collectively construct a list of effective countermeasures … Should the [Israeli] occupying power remain unmoved”, the range of “targeted countermeasures would be escalated.”
This sounds to me very like sanctions; the ghost of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement hovers over these words, although Lynk makes no reference to it. The real message of his report, however, seems quite clear: this impunity must end.
But we all know that the Lynks of this world, and the old UN donkey, will have no effect on the Trumps and the Kushners and their fantasy “deal of the century” which impoverishes the Palestinians into compliance and destroys any last hope of self-determination.
There will be no Palestinian state. And if Trump is re-elected next year, Israel may indeed claim ownership of all the land between Jerusalem and the Jordan River, and that will be the end of “Palestine”.
It might also – if this is an apartheid state with no votes for the Palestinians – be the end of a “democratic” Israel too.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the occupation of Palestinian territories as part of attempts to form an illegal entity, called Israel, has been the main cause of terrorism in the world.
In remarks quoted by Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency on Saturday, Mahathir stressing that if the causes of terrorism were not dealt with, then it would be difficult to put a stop to them.
“The main thing that we think we should always stress is the causes of terrorism. Today, there is already a consensus almost to blame terrorism on Muslims,” said the Malaysian premier who was in Turkey on an official visit.
“But the fact you said, after the seizure of Palestine, and the disregard of international law by Israel, this has led to so-called acts of terrorism. But in order to get rid of terrorism, we need to know the reason why they terrorize unless you treat the causes of terrorism, you are not going to be able to stop terrorism,” he said.
Mahathir called on the Tel Aviv regime to allow Palestinians to return back and reclaim their property, or at least agree on stopping the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.
“And if we know, beside this, the causes for terrorism, and we treat them, we take action to stop this injustice perpetrated on the Palestinians, I think there will be less terrorism or no terrorism all over the world,” he said.
Mahathir has previously dubbed Israel as “a state of robbers”, saying his country enjoys friendly relations with every country in the world except Israel.
About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Some 7,000 Palestinians are currently behind bars in 17 Israeli prisons and detention centers, according to reports.
Jerusalem al-Quds remains at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians hoping that the eastern part of the city would eventually serve as the capital of a future independent Palestinian state.
Major Israeli media outlets have launched a systematic bullying campaign to demonize Germany’s leading news weekly, Der Spiegel, after it recently revealed that two small pro-Israel organizations were directing Berlin’s Middle East policy.
Reacting to Der Spiegel’s article, Israeli Hebrew-language daily newspaper Israel Hayom, which is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed that journalists involved in the article were linked to the fake news reporting by Claas Relotius, a well-known investigative journalist.
The Jerusalem Post and several other Israeli media outlets on Monday also accused the German magazine of promoting Israel-related anti-Semitism and demanded an apology.
Der Spiegel, a 71-year-old publication, is renowned for its quality journalism and is read by hundreds of thousands of people in print and by millions online.
The defamatory campaign by Israeli media comes after a team of six Spiegel journalists wrote in a three-page article that two Germany-based organizations – Values Initiative and The Middle East Peace Forum (Naffo) — used “dubious methods” to mount a “targeted campaign” to secure a Bundestag (parliament) resolution opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
The German magazine in its weekend publication went onto point out that German lawmakers did “not want to reject the resolution out of fear of being labeled an anti-semite.”
In May, a cross-party alliance in the German parliament Bundestag voted to condemn as “anti-Semitic” the BDS movement, which calls for economic pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian territories.
In a move welcomed by the Tel Aviv regime, the majority of German lawmakers in the Bundestag voted in favor of a motion that accuses the BDS of using anti-Semitic tactics to fulfill its political goals.
The resolution was submitted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fellow-conservatives, their Social Democrat coalition partners, as well as the Greens and Free Democrats.
The vote was denounced by the BDS as anti-Palestinian.
Der Spiegel further revealed that the two organizations were “front organizations” for the Tel Aviv regime with links to the Israeli spy agency Mossad.
Naffo “advocates for positions of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” and “carries out aggressive lobby work” in Berlin’s government district, the magazine noted
The authors stated that the “questionable methods” of Naffo involved a conference where positions were exchanged with politicians and trips were arranged to bring German MPs to Israel.
The magazine has stressed that the organizations run a “network” and wield outsized “influence.”
The article also quoted German Undersecretary of State Niels Annen, who criticized the two pro-Israel groups: “Any attempt to influence the balanced position of Germany or Europe in one of the sides’ directions is problematic.”
Israel and its allies in Washington and other Western capitals have long railed against the BDS, which calls for people and groups across the world to cut economic, cultural and academic ties to Tel Aviv.
Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS has claimed several recent successes in isolating Israel.
Oh Canada, stop meddling in foreign countries affairs and fix your own potholes. Better yet, fix the conditions in our First Nations’ reserves, and fix the housing crisis.
This Canadian supports the BDS movement until Israel stops its genocidal efforts towards Palestine.
On June 25, Canada’s Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism announced that the Trudeau government’s new anti-racism strategy would include the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The Co-Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) proudly noted that
“the IHRA definition also explicitly recognizes that anti-Zionism – that is the delegitimization and demonization of the Jewish state – is a clear and unequivocal expression of antisemitism.”
While the adoption of this definition is as yet only ‘symbolic and declaratory,’ it can form the basis for attacks on Palestinian solidarity at various levels. The funding of NGOs that are critical of Israel may be threatened. Public institutions will be pressured to deny meeting facilities for events that take the Palestinian side. It is also quite possible that this initiative could be taken further and the expression of anti-Zionist views actually be treated as a form of hate crime.
Misuse of Antisemitism
This latest move is part of the Canadian component of a concerted international drive to weaponise the false allegation of antisemitism in the service of Israel. In 2009, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA) was formed, comprised of former and sitting MPs from each party. It issued its report in 2011 and the focus was on combating the so called ‘new antisemitism’ of those who challenge Israel. Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) described the whole initiative as an ‘attempt to attack free speech and silence criticism of the Israeli government’s oppressive and illegal policies’ and ‘to label criticism of Israel and its behaviour, as well as organized efforts to change them, as anti-Semitic and to criminalize both.’
The BDS Movement has also been attacked by governments in Canada, with resolutions condemning the boycott effort coming from both the federal parliament and the provincial legislature in Ontario. The Al Quds Day Rally in Toronto has faced concerted efforts to undermine it, with the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, asserting last year that
“Our government will take action to ensure that events like Al Quds Day… are no longer part of the landscape in Ontario.”
Toronto’s Mayor, John Tory, took a similar position and Liberal MP, Michael Levitt, Chair of the Canada-Israel Parliamentary Group, urged the City and Province
“to hold the organisers accountable for this hateful event.”
Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) has produced an excellent report that shows how the IHRA definition is being used to further the attack on Palestinian solidarity, insufficient attention is paid to very real forms of antisemitic hate crime. The Israeli government and its supporters are aggressively using this document as a key tool in their efforts to ‘suppress – and even criminalize – criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights.’
If the effort to intimidate and suppress support for the Palestinians, especially when it is expressed as clear and forthright anti-Zionism, is being challenged with such escalating ferocity, this largely reflects a certain note of desperation on the part of Israel’s apologists. The BDS Movement has made gains and the general mood has shifted against the Zionist state. At the same time, Israel’s political leadership is racing to the right with the support of the Trump Administration and dispensing with polite fictions about a peace process, as they move to brutally complete the colonial project. The pretense of a liberal democracy seeking a just resolution is no longer viable. The accusation of antisemitism against international supporters of a free Palestine is really all that’s left in the toolbox. So, while fascists in Eastern Europe pose a real threat to Jewish communities and US nazis march through the streets chanting, ‘Jews will not replace us,’ fire is focused on the left and life long anti-racists, like Jeremy Corbyn, are labeled as hatemongers. Moreover, the goal of the attack is no longer merely character assassination. The IHRA definition is being put forward as one that should inform the work of police and prosecutors. They prepare the ground to arrest those they can’t intimidate into silence.
Labour and the IHRA Definition
The Labour Party’s acceptance last year of the IHRA definition, with all of the examples included, was desperately unfortunate. As an effort by some on the left to appease the right and achieve peace, it was a predictable failure and only emboldened the attackers to go further with their cynical misuse of antisemitism. However, it also had the most serious implications for international Palestinian solidarity. Precisely because the prestige of the Corbyn leadership is so considerable and it is looked to with such hope in many other countries, the retreat had a damaging effect. We can expect the Liberal Party of Canada, fully complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians, to readily accept the IHRA definition but, for Labour to do this, even as the document is being used to attack solidarity movements in country after country, was massively unhelpful.
For obvious historical reasons, the position that a left-led party in Britain takes on an anti-colonial struggle is a decisive question. Leftists in the country from which the Balfour Declaration was issued have a particular responsibility to the Palestinians.
Though he was not the first Zionist politician to make this gesture, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, stood before the Security Council in April of this year and waved a bible in his hand as he declared that “this is our deed to our land.” That anyone can suggest that an ancient religious text should be used to decide affairs of state and international relations in the 21st Century is quite astounding yet no Western leader would even consider questioning these theatrics. If, however, Danon’s bible promised, not a part of the Middle East, but a portion of Western Europe, the Zionist claim to self-determination would have gone nowhere. When Zionism emerged in the 19th Century, as an adjunct of European colonialism, no one spoke in code. Everyone understood that the plan was for a settler colony that would serve as a garrison of Western interests. It would be, as Theodor Herzl put it,
“a sector of the wall of Europe against Asia, we shall serve as the outpost of civilization against barbarism.”
Herzl’s wall is standing today. It was erected by ethnically cleansing the bulk of the Palestinian population, creating vast numbers of refugees and establishing an Apartheid regime for those who could not be removed. Last month, Netanyahu ventured the opinion that,
“If Israel wasn’t here, the Middle East would collapse.”
By that, of course, he means that the US-led domination of the entire region would be called into question and he is far from wrong.
The nature and role of the State of Israel is such that we can’t be content to be critical of its excesses and worst aspects. The seventh of the ‘contemporary examples of antisemitism’ listed in the IHRA definition speaks of ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.’ The dispossession of the Palestinians can’t possibly be considered the exercise of a right to self-determination and Israel, a colonial settler state, is a fundamentally racist endeavour. Zionism is not a religion or an ethnicity but a political ideology and its propositions are questioned or rejected by many Jews, while they are supported by leaders of Western powers who are, for the most part, not Jewish.
As Israel seeks to crush Palestinian resistance, complete the colonial project and become an impregnable fortress of Western interests in the Middle East, a frank and clear anti-Zionism is at a premium. When Palestinians join the Great March of Return to the Gaza fence, it is not enough to accuse the IDF of using excessive force. We must declare that the Palestinians do, indeed, have a right of return and to live in a free, democratic and secular Palestine. If they can show such courage and pay such a price, surely we can face down and refute the lies and slanders and show our solidarity and support for the Palestinians is non-negotiable.
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John Clarke became an organiser with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty when it was formed in 1990 and has been involved in mobilising poor communities under attack ever since.
Featured image: Free Palestine protest at Parliament Hill, Ottawa, July 2014. Photo: Flickr/Tony Webster
Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and the person Trump appointed to broker a Middle East peace agreement recently called Palestinians “hysterical and stupid.” That is particularly galling language coming from a notorious New Jersey, New York, and Maryland slumlord and the son of a federally convicted criminal. Kushner’s father and real estate mogul, Charles Kushner, spent fourteen months in prison after being convicted of tax fraud and witness tampering, among other crimes. Jared Kushner believes his father was wrongly convicted and imprisoned. But the wunderkind son-in-law of Trump has no problem in maintaining the status quo in the Middle East, one that has led to the large-scale incarceration of the people of the Gaza Strip in the virtual desert ghetto.
Mr. Kushner does not have the business acumen to run a New York City sandwich cart, let alone a major foreign policy initiative like a final Middle East peace agreement. Such a concordat has eluded every US president since the creation of Israel in 1948. Kushner’s real estate bankruptcies are legendary, and they have resulted in him and his father panhandling for loan relief financing from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and China, among other countries.
In the wake of Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan unveiled at a workshop in Bahrain in June of this year, government officials around the world reacted with an almost-unanimous thumbs down. The Bahrain conference more resembled a meeting of potential investors in one of Kushner’s real estate scams. The Palestinians, claiming that to present an economic plan for the Palestinian territories prior to a political settlement, boycotted the Bahrain conclave. Under the “Kushner Plan,” Gaza was to become a tourist resort with transport routes through Israel to the West Bank. No mention was made of the crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockades imposed on the densely populated Gaza enclave of 1.8 million people. Kushner displayed his utter ignorance of geo-politics, history, and diplomacy when he said Palestinians would reap a financial whirlwind of real estate development and tourism investment money if “there’s not a fear of people doing terrorism.” Doing terrorism? In Kushner’s pampered rich kid myopic view of the world, “doing terrorism” is like “doing lunch” or “doing a Broadway show.”
Participating in Kushner’s gabfest, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that Kushner’s roll-out was like a “hot IPO,” an initial public offering of shares in a company. Seasoned Middle East experts, including diplomats and scholars, were far less enthusiastic, with one likening Kushner’s conference to a Monty Python sketch.
Kushner also lambasted the Palestinian leadership for saying “crazy things.” The son-in-law of the man who, on a daily basis, says and tweets “crazy things” believes that it is “crazy” for Palestinian leaders to condemn Israeli expansion into East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. In fact, “crazy” was Trump ordering the moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, shuttering the US Consulate General in Jerusalem that served as the de facto US mission in Palestine, cutting off all US economic assistance to the Palestinians, closing the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Syria’s Golan Heights.
Kushner called the Palestinians “stupid and hysterical.” However, nothing exemplifies hysterical and stupid more than Kushner family friend Binyamin Netanyahu, who once stood before the United Nations General Assembly and displayed a cartoon drawing of a bomb to “prove” that Iran was nearing development of a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu’s histrionics before the world assembly was not the first time he resorted to gimmickry and lying in order to tick off a list of favorite Zionist talking points.
Kushner does not appreciate the hyper-hysterical nature of Israel and its supporters, of which he is one. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement targeting Israel’s racist and expansionist policies has resulted in hysterical extreme measures aimed at undercutting constitutional and other inherent freedoms of speech in other countries. These anti-free speech actions have been advanced by Kushner’s friends and colleagues and include twenty-eight American states enacting legislation that bans individuals and companies supporting BDS from receiving state government contracts. Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, is actively working to disrupt the global BDS movement, including the operations of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
The anti-BDS campaign includes Mossad collecting intelligence on BDS operations in foreign countries and placing BDS leaders and supporters on INTERPOL and EUROPOL watch lists. Kushner’s Zionist friends have even spoken of Israel filing lawsuits against BDS organizations and individuals abroad. There was little surprise when Mossad’s anti-BDS activities in the United States were linked to the now-defunct Israeli private intelligence firm PSY-Group and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Kushner can whine all day long about Palestinians being “hysterical.” No one is more hysterical and hypocritical than Kushner and his Orthodox Jewish cabal that includes the dodgy Chabad movement – which has been tied into everything from drug and human organ trafficking to tax evasion and money laundering, as well as the 2020 presidential campaign of New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker. No sooner had New England Patriots football owner and Trump Mar-a-Lago club member Robert Kraft beat a criminal charge of soliciting prostitution from a Florida massage parlor employing Chinese indentured employees, he donated his $1 million Genesis Prize – Israel’s version of the Nobel Prize – to the anti-BDS movement. That kind of money would have paid for quite a lot of $57 “sessions” at Kraft’s favorite, but now closed, Florida massage parlor. Even though Kraft was dumb enough to get caught on videotape in a law enforcement sting on illegal prostitution activities, Kushner claims it is the Palestinians who are “stupid.”
Recently, Kushner’s friends in Israel and Germany forced the resignation of Dr. Peter Schäfer, a foremost scholar of Judaic Studies, as director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum. Using Inquisition-like tactics, Schäfer stood accused by Israel supporters of backing the BDS movement by tweeting a link to a letter signed by 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars opposing a bill passed by the German parliament that linked the BDS movement to anti-Semitism. The campaign against Dr. Schäfer was centered on the activities of an Israel-based organization called NGO Monitor. The group, which is nothing more than a cipher for Mossad, targets international non-governmental organizations tagged with being supportive of the Palestinians or the BDS movement.
Under pressure from such anti-democratic forces as NGO Monitor; its Geneva-based companion, UN Watch; the American Jewish Committee; and similar repugnant pressure organizations, the freedom of speech rights of pro-Palestine activists have been severely hampered by actions of the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and other nations.
Mr. Kushner and his friends who gathered in Bahrain for his real estate development (land theft) prospectus seminar would trick the world into believing that it is the Palestinians who are “hysterical.” When international supporters of the Palestinians decide to hit the Israelis where it hurts the most – their wallets – all one can hear from the offices and board rooms of Tel Aviv, West Jerusalem, Haifa, Ashkelon, Eilat, Ramat Gan, New York, and other centers of Israeli commerce and intrigue is loud wailing and promises to “get even.” And Kushner accuses the Palestinians of being “hysterical.”
In fact, the Palestinians have been quite measured in response to Israel’s overt and covert campaigns against them and their inalienable rights. Since Trump and Kushner launched their diplomatic, political, and economic warfare against Palestine, the State of Palestine has been recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency and Colombia; Italy voted for a UN Security Council for a resolution that opposed the US movement of its embassy to Jerusalem; the UN’s Group of 77 (G77) developing nations invited Palestine to chair the group’s meeting during 2019; Spain’s Josep Borell, who is pro-Palestinian and tough on Israel, was named the next Foreign Affairs Commissioner of the European Union; and former US President Jimmy Carter called on the United States to recognize Palestinian sovereignty. These small but significant advances on behalf of the Palestinians were achieved as a result of Palestine’s commitment to diplomacy, not the hysteria practiced by Kushner and his friends in Israel, as well as by pro-Israel embeds found throughout the Trump administration.
US Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has proposed the US cut military and economic aid worth $3 billion a year from Israel in response to the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.
“I think these are part of conversations we are having in our caucus, but I think what we are really seeing is an ascent of authoritarianism across the world. I think that Netanyahu is a Trump-like figure,” she said during an interview with Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast.
“I think it is certainly on the table. I think it’s something that can be discussed,” she added referring to cutting the aid.
Ocasio-Cortez explained that there are many ways to protect the Palestinians from Israeli violations including a bill proposed by Democratic Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum that would prohibit US aid to Israel from being used to detain Palestinian children in the West Bank.
Ocasio-Cortez’s view on Israel and Palestine have received extensive media attention. The Democratic congresswoman expressed her support for the Palestinians during the Land Day protests in Gaza in which 135 Palestinians were killed by Israeli occupation forces and a further 13,000 were injured.
“This is a massacre,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
“I hope my peers have the moral courage to call it such.”
“No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else.”
On the eve of the first anniversary of the “Great March of Return” at the Gaza border, lawyers and jurists around the world are calling on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.
Today, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers presented a petition from the International Lawyers Campaign for the Investigation and Prosecution of Crimes Committed Against the Palestinian People to Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the ICC. The petition urges Bensouda to initiate a full investigation and prosecute violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by Israeli officials in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The petition has garnered the support of tens of thousands of lawyers worldwide.
The petition condemns “the unimaginable atrocities that have been committed and continue to be committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians which deeply shock the conscience of humanity.”
It cites the well-established legal principle that victims of gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law “have a right to a remedy and reparation.”
The petition denounces “the failure and refusal” of Israel to hold accountable “those suspected of committing crimes against Palestinian civilians,” which has resulted in “abandoning the rule of law and replacing it with widespread impunity for Israeli officials who have sanctioned and for Israeli individuals who have perpetrated such crimes.”
Israel Bombs Gaza Ahead of Great March of Return Anniversary
On March 25 and 26, in anticipation of the forthcoming election and the anniversary of the Great March of Return, Israel pummeled Gaza with dozens of airstrikes, instilling terror in 2 million Palestinians.
On Saturday, March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians are planning to walk toward the Gaza border to commemorate the March 30, 2018, launch of the Great March of Return. For the past year, during the weekly protests, tens of thousands of Palestinians have demanded an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the right to return to their homeland. In response, Israeli forces have engaged in violent and illegal repression against demonstrators.
UN Commission Documents Crimes by Israeli Leaders
On March 18, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, convened by the UN Human Rights Council, issued a 252-page report of its findings on the Great March of Return demonstrations.
“We present this comprehensive report with an urgent plea to Israel to immediately ensure that the rules of engagement of their security forces are revised to comply with international legal standards…. The excessive force that took place on 30 March, 14 May and 12 October 2018 must not be repeated,” Commission Chair Santiago Canton told the Human Rights Council.
The Commission found “reasonable grounds to believe that during these weekly demonstrations, the Israeli Security Forces killed and gravely injured civilians who were neither participating directly in hostilities nor posing an imminent threat to life. Among those shot were children, paramedics, journalists, and persons with disabilities. 183 people were shot dead, another 6,106 were wounded with live ammunition.”
Unless acting in lawful self-defense, the Commission noted,
“intentionally killing a civilian not directly participating in hostilities is a war crime. Serious human rights violations were committed which may amount to crimes against humanity.”
The Commission concluded that the Israeli Security Forces’ “conduct also violated international humanitarian law, which permits civilians to be targeted only when they ‘directly participate in hostilities.’ This purposefully high threshold was not met by demonstrators’ conduct, in the view of the Commission, with one possible exception.”
Furthermore, the Commission stated,
“Targeting unarmed demonstrators purely on the basis of their current or former political views, or their current or former membership of an armed group — and not on their conduct at the time — is impermissible in the view of the Commission.”
The Commission recommended that the government of Israel:
The Commission’s report will be forwarded to the ICC.
Petition Seeks Accountability in International Court for Israeli Leaders
In the summer of 2014, Israeli forces killed 2,200 Palestinians, nearly one-quarter of them children and over 80 percent of them civilians, in an operation dubbed “Operation Protective Edge.”
The following January, Bensouda opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine. In a preliminary examination, the Office of the Prosecutor determines whether there is sufficient evidence of crimes of sufficient gravity falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction, whether there are genuine national proceedings, and whether opening an investigation would serve the interests of justice and of the victims.
The petition from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers urges Bensouda to take the next step — from a preliminary examination to a full investigation into Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people. In an investigation, the Office of the Prosecutor gathers evidence, identifies suspects, and asks ICC judges to issue an arrest warrant or a summons to appear.
On April 8, 2018, in light of Israeli actions during the Great March of Return, Bensouda stated that
“any new alleged crime committed in the context of the situation in Palestine may be subjected to my Office’s scrutiny. This applies to the events of the past weeks and to any future incident.”
“I am aware that the demonstrations in the Gaza Strip are planned to continue further. My Office will continue to closely watch the situation and will record any instance of incitement or resort to unlawful force.”
“Violence against civilians – in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the [ICC’s] Rome Statute.”
“Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within ICC’s jurisdiction is liable to prosecution before the Court, with full respect for the principle of complementarity.”
“Complementarity” means the court will take jurisdiction only over people whose home country is unwilling or unable to genuinely investigate and prosecute.
Israel has demonstrated its unwillingness to mount an impartial investigation into Operation Protective Edge. In August 2018, the Israeli military absolved itself of any wrongdoing in that operation.
The lawyers’ petition was inspired by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers’ previous international call for lawyers to support the campaign to free Nelson Mandela in the 1980s. Just as that campaign “proved to be for those living under Apartheid in South Africa,” the current petition “is an essential first step in securing equal justice under law” for the Palestinian people.
Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
“By recognizing Israel’s annexation of Golan, Trump merely recognized that Israel has annexed America.”
With permission from
Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared.
APRIL 1, 2019
Is there any other country on Earth with which America would dare collude on such a scale? Forget the “special relationship” with the crackpots in Britain, or the New World coming to the rescue of the Old World in the Second World War. There’s only one special relationship that matters right now – and we all know what that is. Having given its blessing to all Jerusalem as Israeli property and having now handed Golan to Israel as a possession – for “to annex” means “to take possession”, does it not? – Donald Trump has undermined the entire foundation of “land for peace” enshrined in Security Council Resolution 242. And Israel is happy. A gift for Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election, we are told.
True, the Middle East “peace process” died years ago – if it ever existed, or was meant to work – but Trump’s ostentatious signature on Israel’s annexation of Golan on Monday tore up the documents, the paragraphs, the very basis for the two-state Israeli-Palestinian settlement which might have ended the longest military occupation of our generation. And the United States has now given its open, public and wholehearted support to Israel’s side in the world’s last colonial war. And if Golan is now part of Israel because of the threat of Iran, then southern Lebanon can become part of Israel. Isn’t Hezbollah also an Iranian “threat”? And how quickly will we see the West Bank annexed by Israel with the approval of the United States?
Notice two things about the above paragraphs. Firstly, the number of times I have been forced to use quotation marks around verbs and nouns and adjectives which would normally never need them. And secondly, how one word – Syria – simply did not occur. Syria’s loss of Golan in 1967 is so long ago and has become so normalized that in a perverse way, its real ownership had ceased to exist; Trump’s recognition of Israel’s own “annexation” – unrecognized anywhere else in the world – merely accepted what we’d all secretly gone along with. That the theft of Syria’s land was now perfectly legal. Or “legal”. It was highly instructive that when the BBC website chose to cover the story about Trump’s Golan mischief, it ran a story headlined “What it all means” – but which did not mention Syria until the fifth paragraph.
The media, in its groveling, cowardly, craven obeisance to Israel – and its absolute fear of being cast into the accusatory hell of “antisemitism” – has a lot to answer for. When Colin Powell told the US State Department to instruct its embassies to call the West Bank “disputed” rather than “occupied”, the American press and television almost at once switched nomenclature. And so when the State Department suddenly referred to Golan a few weeks ago as “Israeli-controlled” rather than “Israeli-occupied”, we all knew what was coming. Thank heavens, as I always say, for those brave Israeli journalists – and preciously few activists and politicians – who speak out against these insanities.
This verbal transition, however, is neither subtle nor surprising – given America’s utter surrender to all things Israeli – but it is very sinister for the people of the Middle East. I was very struck by something Netanyahu said in response to Trump’s signature on that outrageous Golan document: he said that “the Jewish people’s roots in the Golan go back thousands of years”. True. But I recalled at once that in 1982, within weeks of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, Israeli troops and “civil affairs” officers traveled around the Shia Muslim and Christian villages of the south of Lebanon, handing out questionnaires to the Arabs. I saw them do this. The documents were long and complicated. Were there any Jewish archaeological remains on their lands, the Lebanese were asked? Had any of their older buildings any signs of Jewish habitation in previous decades or centuries? Did any hills or villages have Hebrew names? They were especially interested in the area within the triangle of Tyre, Sidon and Qana.
Of course, there were many Jewish remains. Even in the hill villages of the Druze Chouf mountains, I have found the indent of the mezuzah on stone door frames, proving that their ancient owners followed the instructions of the Book of Deuteronomy. The Israelis noted these marks; indeed, some of the inhabitants pointed them out to the initially friendly Israeli soldiers. But of course, it set a precedent. What if – after the next Lebanon war – Israel decides that rather than occupy southern Lebanon, it will annex the region because “the Jewish people’s roots” in the region “go back thousands of years”.
Yes, I know that Israel would have to defeat Hezbollah to do this – an unlikely event since Hezbollah would more likely be heading across the Lebanese border into Israel. But in the 18 years in which it occupied almost all of southern Lebanon, the media never referred to it as “Israeli-occupied”. It was always called “Israeli-controlled” and the vast Israeli occupation zone was never called by this name. Instead, it was always referred to as Israel’s “security zone”. We journos had already laid the semantic groundwork for the annexation which hasn’t happened – yet.
But this is not a story about Lebanon any more than it is about Trump himself. Indeed, watching the tomfoolery in the mother of parliaments, I find it ever more embarrassing to write about the insanity of the Trump White House. No, this is about the very act of international annexation and the west’s willingness to go along with land theft – unless, of course, Putin and Russia are involved. And it is about the fact – let us not haggle like skinflints over definitions – that the United States, in its foreign policy in the Middle East, is in hock to Israel. As many 20 years ago, I gathered together dozens of US and Israeli government policy statements on the region, jumbled them up – and asked a colleague to arrange them back in their original order. Readers might try the same test: it was – and is – an impossible task.
I’m tired of the utterly false arguments about antisemitism in the United States. The country contains many anti-Jewish, anti-Arab, anti-black racists without de-semanticising the word “antisemitism” by using it against all of Israel’s critics. It doesn’t need new Arab-origin legislators, with their dodgy, unpleasantly revealing remarks and their sloppy grasp of history, to understand that Americans will not and dare not complain about the dual loyalties of their countrymen and countrywomen.
Just look at the US congress when Netanyahu addresses it. The representatives of the United States stand up and applaud and sit down and again stand up and applaud and sit down – 29 times in 2011 and 39 times in 2015. I always watch this act of US legislative groveling with a smile, for it reminds me of the ovations which Saddam Hussein would always receive from his beloved people and which Bashar al-Assad always received – and still receives – from his loyal subjects. I can well see why Middle East leaders spot parallels between the Arab world and America.
And I could well understand why congress stands to attention so many times on cue when Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, says, as he did on Monday, that “we stand with Israel because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight”.
Really? Does the United States, which fought a colonial war against the British, really stand with Israel’s colonial cause – its colonial expansion and land thievery in the West Bank? Do Americans really “stand with” Israel in its constant, brutal bombardments of Palestinians – and of Lebanon – and tolerate and approve those war crimes which all but the Americans acknowledge to be Israel’s responsibility. And if they do, why did Americans bother to go to war with Saddam? Why do we bomb Syria?
There’s no point in tracing the putrid history of annexation. Of the US annexation of Hawaii because it needed a naval port in the Pacific (as the Japanese noted) and its annexation of most of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. I’m not even mentioning Putin and Crimea. Nor do we surely need to drag ourselves through the annexations perpetrated by the little corporal with the moustache – Jacinda Ardern-like, I shall not mention his name– who annexed the Sudetenland and all of Austria, the latter event accompanied by a Times editorial comparing it favourably with the 300-year-old union of Scotland and England.
No, I’m not comparing annexations. The Israelis are not Nazis and the Americans are not Russians and the Russians are not Israelis. But there are parallels which countries themselves draw when they choose to annex – or sanctify annexations – of other people’s land. All of which can be based and in most cases were based on both ethnic roots and military necessity.
Today, we must learn again that old phrase “facts on the ground”. Israel annexed Jerusalem and Golan in 1980 and 1981 – all the world (and a lot of Israelis) condemned this at the time – but now Trump has snapped the “land for peace” equation in half. Washington has given its imprimatur to illegal land acquisition, to territorial theft. And why not when congress is in thrall to Israel?
Yet why get worked up about this? By recognising Israel’s annexation of Golan, Trump merely recognised that Israel has annexed America.
Russia described the Israeli bombing of Gaza as “dangerous” and warned it could lead to a “large-scale armed conflict” with civilian deaths on both sides.
Mar 27, 2019
Moscow has expressed deep concern regarding the latest wave of airstrikes carried out by Israeli warplanes on the besieged Gaza Strip and is urging both sides to show restraint and immediately return to a ceasefire.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Russian foreign ministry described the Israeli bombing of Gaza as “dangerous” and warned it could lead to a “large-scale armed conflict” with civilian deaths occurring on both sides.
“Moscow is deeply concerned about a new round of tensions that may lead to a large-scale armed conflict, civilian deaths on both sides and the further deterioration of the already dire situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been under a blockade for years,” the statement adds.
Israeli warplanes have carried out more than 50 airstrikes on Gaza in the last two days, damaging around 500 Palestinian homes. Ten Palestinians were injured during the Israeli attacks in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip during the early hours of March 25. The rocket hit a home in Mishmeret in central Israel, ultimately leaving seven wounded.
Gaza, considered by many to be an open air prison, is one of the most densely populated regions of the world. In 2018 alone, Israel killed at least 290 Palestinians including during the Great Return March while 14 Israelis were killed by Palestinians during the same period. During the last major war between Israel and Gaza in 2014, Israel’s IDF suffered only two fatalities.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, President Trump told reporters that Russian soldiers must leave Venezuela, just days after Russia deployed a military contingent outside of Caracas.
“Russia has to get out,” Trump told the media during a meeting with Fabiana Rosales, wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who he referred to as “the first lady of Venezuela.” When asked how that could actually be accomplished, Trump replied: “We’ll see. All options are open.”
Vice President Mike Pence was also present at the meeting with Rosales.
“The United States views Russia’s arrival of military planes this weekend as an unwelcome provocation,” Pence told reporters.
The rift between the United States and Russia over Venezuela deepened following the arrival of Russian military personnel to support Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro over the weekend. According to Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, the sending of Russian personnel was done “in strict accordance” with Venezuela’s constitution along with a bilateral agreement.
“We call on Russia today to cease all support of the Maduro regime and stand with Juan Guaido and stand with nations across this hemisphere and across the world until freedom is restored,” Pence added.
US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the disputed Golan Heights as Israeli territory is “an act of brigandry,” former Labour Party MP George Galloway told RT. Trump’s declaration has been condemned in the Arab world.
RT World News
25 Mar, 2019
Trump on Monday signed a declaration recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War – a move that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “historic justice” and a “diplomatic victory.” This is despite the UN declaring Israel’s occupation of the heights “null and void,” and the Arab League calling it “completely beyond international law.”
Galloway called Trump’s declaration “an act of brigandry which will send a clear message to the entire world that the US cares nothing for international law, for treaties, just force.”
Galloway called Trump’s declaration “an act of brigandry which will send a clear message to the entire world that the US cares nothing for international law, for treaties, just force.”
Crucially to Israel, the Golan Heights is one of only three sources of freshwater feeding the arid Jewish state. Perhaps more crucially to Israeli and American interests, the region also sits on top of sizable oil reserves, discovered in 2015. US oil company Genie, through its Israeli subsidiary, was given exclusive exploration rights to drill the occupied territory, and until now has been held up by the small matter of the land being illegally occupied under international law.
“The US will underwrite any Israeli crime as long as its imperial interests in the Arab world are furthered,” Galloway told RT. “The oil reserves in the Golan are already being stolen in absolute violation of international law but for the further enrichment of western businessmen.”
Still, the Golan Heights is home to some 27,000 Syrians, who are unlikely to be happy with the Trump administration’s decision. “The Golan will always be Syrian, however, and no caprice of a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ US president can change that,” Galloway said.
Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Trump’s decision a “flagrant attack” on Syrian sovereignty, a “slap in the face” for the international community and another step in a “conspiracy” to “liquidate the Palestinian issue.”
BY Jeremy Salt
Hubris grips Israel. Absolute power has had its usual effect of absolute corruption, of morality, legality, and justice as well as the money deals that have enriched corrupt Israeli politicians.
No one dares stop Israel. Not the UN and not western governments. They can but they don’t or they won’t. Israel can kill Palestinians on the West Bank, in Jerusalem, in Gaza, without any meaningful intervention by the ‘international community.’
On the West Bank, a corrupt Palestinian Authority has done much of its dirty work, administering the occupied territory on behalf of the occupier, not the occupied. In East Jerusalem, it has acted as the conduit for the sale of Jerusalem properties to Zionist settlers, with straw men, Palestinians, and bogus companies set up to transfer properties without owners knowing that the real purchasers are Zionist settlers.
Most of the money for these purchases comes from the US, where Donald Trump has now followed up his “recognition” of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with his “recognition” of the occupied Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory.
He did this in a tweet, without telling the relevant arms of his own administration beforehand. The State Department was taken by surprise and so was everyone else, except the Israeli government. It knew because Trump had passed on the word. Behind the scenes, John Bolton and the US ambassador to Israel, David Freedman, effectively Israel’s American ambassador to Israel, worked to set this up.
The parallel to Trump’s unilateral White House action is US recognition of Israel in 1948. Because of the probability of extreme bloodshed, early in 1948 the US had backed away from the 1947 partition plan and was seeking a UN trusteeship over Palestine. That was the policy followed until Truman upended it on May 14 by recognizing Israel de facto, without informing the State Department or the US delegation at the UN.
The UN Secretary-General had been informed, and it was in the wastepaper basket in his office that the screwed-up ticker tape message sent to him was found. The US delegation ’s head, Warren Austin, was so disgusted he walked out of the UN building and left it to his deputy to make the formal announcement of recognition. The enraged Cuban delegation threatened to pull Cuba out of the UN.
The US has never been an honest broker but at least in the 1940s and 1950s, there were sensible people who recognized the great dangers for the US in supporting Zionism and the state of Israel.
Loy Henderson, a senior State Department official, responsible for Middle Eastern policy, wrote that support for a Jewish state would violate US policy of allowing a majority vote by the population of any territory to determine its form of government.
He warned that support for Israel would involve the US “in international difficulties of so grave a character that the reaction throughout the world as well as in this country will be very strong.”
Secretary of State George Marshall opposed partition and wrote that if Truman recognized Israel, he would vote against him in the next elections.
Truman’s double-dealing was to repeated by Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s when he told the Israeli ambassador, Yitzhak Rabin, that he need not worry about being forced into signing the nuclear-non proliferation treaty in return for the supply of US planes and tanks.
Johnson would make sure they would be provided without any conditions, blindsiding his own officials, who thought they were going into negotiations with a strong hand, only to be treated with discourtesy by Rabin.
Israel got the lot then, the tanks and the planes and the freedom to develop nuclear weapons without having to sign the NPT, and it has got the lot ever since. Military and economic grants have now reached unprecedented levels. On top of the $3.8 billion aid, Israel will receive for 2019 it is now the beneficiary of a ten-year $38 billion ‘defense’ package, signed into law in August 2018.
These sums of money, enabling the occupation of Palestine and the killing of Palestinians, are augmented by smaller grants, $50 million here or $50 million there, the icing on an enormous and very tasty cake. Israel still has the freedom to develop nuclear weapons without US interference.
In December 2017, Donald Trump “recognized” Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, on the same day that Zionist snipers were killing unarmed Palestinians along the Gaza fence line. He has now followed this by “recognizing” the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory.
The banality of the man is summed up in the means of communication, not a White House press conference, not a State Department communique, but a tweet, the same conduit he uses for talking about his children or abusing his political opponents or telling the world how great the Mexican wall will be.
Of course, there can be no “recognition” because both East Jerusalem (‘at least’ as there is no good reason to separate the occupation of the east in 1967 from the occupation of the west in 1948) and the Golan Heights are occupied territories in fact and under international law.
With these two announcements, the US has finally ruled itself out as any kind of honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians. It never has been, of course. Some presidents tried hard to bring balance into the relationship – Jimmy Carter for example – but all eventually caved in.
The Golan Heights is part of Syria. In 1967 it was seized by Israel during its war against Egypt and Syria. This was no “pre-emptive” attack as the Zionists have claimed ever since but a blitzkrieg aimed at destroying Arab military capacity, destroying Egypt’s leader, Gamal Abd al Nasser and seizing the rest of Palestine.
The seizure of the Golan involved the expulsion of 90,000-130,000 Syrians and Palestinians. Some fled, others were driven out but, just like 1948, no one was allowed back. About 100 villages were destroyed and ploughed over.
In 1974, after a war which Egypt and Syria would have won on the battlefield had not Anwar al Sadat betrayed the Syrian president, Hafez al Assad, new lines of demarcation were drawn up on the Golan, leaving about 70 percent in the hands of the Zionists.
Before withdrawing from some of the territories they had occupied, Zionist units deliberately destroyed the city of Quneitra. It was never rebuilt, the ruins standing as testimony to the complete bastardry of the army which had occupied it.
Since that time Israel has filled the occupied Golan with about 30 settlements and 25,000 settlers. Archaeological relics are plundered, the Golan’s vital water resources are drained off and Israeli and foreign tourists contribute to the economy of occupation. In recent years the occupied Syrian communities, mainly Druze, have had to put up with wounded terrorists being transported across their land from Syria to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals. On occasion, they have attacked these convoys. Most Druze remain committed to their Syrian identity.
In his tweet, Trump wrote that the “recognition” of the occupied Golan as Israeli is important to “regional stability.” The opposite is true, of course. ‘Regional stability’ is even more seriously threatened. With these announcements, Trump has put his administration entirely in Israel’s pocket.
Trump may well give Netanyahu’s election prospects a boost by turning his tweeted intention into a formal policy statement before the Israeli elections in early April. Both the Jerusalem and the Golan declarations, however, are a sign that Israel and its lobbyists in the US have seriously overplayed their hand and that in buckling to their pressure, Trump has worsened Israel’s standing in the US.
The US groveling to Israel over many decades would now seem to have reached its apogee. All that remains is the plan being cooked up by Trump, John Bolton, Jared Kushner, and David Freedman, in continuous consultation with the Israeli government, to bury the Palestinian question forever.
Americans are aware more than ever of how Israel dictates US foreign policy. Jewish Americans know it in increasing numbers, especially on university campuses. They have the same moral consciousness as anyone else and are appalled by Israel’s atrocious record over many decades. They are distancing themselves both from Israel and Zionism and of course, they completely abhor the Netanyahu government and Israel’s even more openly racist and fascist parties.
Two Muslim members of Congress have recently sharpened the debate with exposure of the lobby’s vote-buying political influence. Senior Democrats, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have declared they will not be attending the annual AIPAC conference in Washington on March 24-26. In years gone by, such defiance by a US politician would be regarded as suicidal but not now. This is partly the measure of how the wind is blowing in the US.
Trump’s two declarations end all illusions. Even in the minds and the hearts of those who desperately cling to the hope of a genuine peace process, there can surely be no hope left. One would have to be completely deluded to see something in nothing. What is left is surrender or resistance. Either you or us. Not a peace of the brave as pronounced on the White House lawns in 1993 but a peace of the grave.
Many Palestinians never thought peace with Israel was possible. They have been proven right. Those who continued to place their trust in the “international community” or in the application of international law or the bona fides of the Israeli government have been proven wrong. George Habash read the situation correctly back in the 1950s and 1960s. Hasan Nasrallah reads it correctly now.
The abandonment by the US of the remnants of a peace process that was never a peace process in the first place creates grave dangers, not regional stability, especially when taken in the context of a possible Israeli war with Hizbullah or Iran or on both of them.
The US has left the supporters of a genuine peace process with nothing in their hands. There is no two-state solution in sight, only a bogus one-state ‘solution’ which turns all of Palestine into Netanyahu’s apartheid Jewish state.
If Palestine, any part of it, is to be redeemed, only the option of force seems left for those who will not surrender. After more than seven decades of chicanery, lies, and brutality from Israeli governments, this conclusion would be self-evident.
It is not a question of wanting it or wishing for it. Force is abhorrent but there has never been a time in history when an occupied people have not resisted the occupier to the utmost limits of their endurance.
Both the Palestinians and the Zionists conform to the historical pattern, one as the occupied and the second as the occupier. Israel thinks it can break the Palestinians down by the application of brute force but after more than seven decades it has still not succeeded. Instead, in the minds of many, it has only strengthened the lesson that what has been taken by force, ultimately can only be taken back by force.
When there is no peace, no remote possibility of peace, the pendulum must swing back to war. When it comes, and sooner or later it will come, Israel is going to take such punishment that it might finally see reason, if by then it is not too late to see reason. It would be better to see reason before the event but that is not going to happen.
Hizbullah has the capacity to inflict great damage on Israel. The Iron Dome and the Arrow anti-missile ‘defense’ systems will stop only a fraction of the volume of missiles that will pour into Israel in the event of war with Hizbullah or the war with Iran which Netanyahu has wanted for years. Even Hamas now says it has rockets that can reach any part of Israeli territory. Even if Israel ‘wins’, a nebulous concept in the context of such a destructive war, it will be seriously wounded.
Israel’s greatest defense system would have been to reach a generous settlement with the Palestinians long ago but what it has actually settled for is ideology, the fulfillment of the Zionist dream that is a Palestinian nightmare, and the continued theft of Palestinian land over the security of its Jewish citizens.
They are in the Middle East and want to stay there. They want a future for their children, but what kind of future is on offer from Israel’s racist politicians, settlers and rabbis? The answer? The same kind of violent future that is on offer for the Palestinians. Is this the choice any sane person would want to make?
On American provincialism and Michelle Alexander’s misguided attempt to ‘break the silence on Palestine’ in a NYT essay.
There is a parochialism to what passes for American critical thinking – or what they call “public intellectuals” – that never ceases to amaze. Myopic, provincial, storms in a teacup, with parameters of inches and ounces measuring the colossal calamities US militarism has historically perpetrated itself or else enabled tyrannical outfits like Saudi Arabia or settler colonies like Israel to commit on this earth.
The ingenious insights of Alexis de Tocqueville in his Democracy in America (1835-1840) still remain true, more than 180 years after he made them. “In America,” he says in a key passage, “the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.”
This “majority” is, of course, an abstraction, the mere assumption of that majority. This tyranny of the majority, as Tocqueville called it, is manufactured by various interest groups who filter historical facts through the distorted lenses of their particular interests. This majority is not factual. It is fictive. That is why it is so powerful.
Should a person dare to speak outside these barriers, Tocqueville stipulates, “he is exposed to continued obloquy and persecution. His political career is closed forever, since he has offended the only authority that is able to open it. Every sort of compensation, even that of celebrity, is refused to him … those who blame him criticize loudly and those who think as he does keep quiet and move away without courage.”
The question of Palestine is one such formidable Tocquevillian truth. The course of Zionist propaganda, launched from Tel Aviv and sustained in New York, has turned the brutalised Palestinians into such a frightful taboo that no serious American critical thinker dares address it without first overcoming the fear of retribution; and, when they collect their courage to do so, it is done with such muffled arguments that, read anywhere else in the world, it makes a mockery of the very idea of critical thinking.
Tocqueville knew very well there are certain truths that only foreigners dare to speak in the United States or those who, as Edward Said articulated in his Representations of the Intellectuals (1993), have become foreigners in their own countries.
The latest such storm in a teacup is an article that a professor of law specialising in mass incarceration dared to write about the terror that the US has enabled Israel for decades to perpetrate on Palestinians.
“Time to Break the Silence on Palestine,” Ms Michelle Alexander tells us in this article and you read the article top to bottom, forward and backwards, scratch your head and wonder: “Silence?” Really? What silence? Whose silence? Who has been silent and who has spoken the truth? Has the world been silent, or has Ms Alexander been silent? These are two vastly different things.
Michelle Alexander is a justly celebrated civil rights lawyer, legal scholar, and the author of the widely acclaimed 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. She has recently been appointed a columnist for the New York Times, a mixed blessing, for it places her on par with some notorious Hasbara propaganda officers daily at work in that fine institution of American liberal imperialism.
What is Ms Alexander’s debut opinion about one of the gravest injustices in the world? Some 70 years of an armed robbery of a people’s homeland and the incremental genocide of its inhabitants, now this sudden “wake-up call” and a bashful request to talk about the facts.
The New York Times and the Zionist propaganda machinery it best represents have set the bar of talking about the Israeli settler colony so low that this open and honest confession of moral cowardice passes for courage and conviction.
In the piece, Ms Alexander speaks openly and truthfully of “when silence would better serve our personal interests … It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.”
She even says she is not the only person who has been silent and, as evidence, offers the morally bankrupt US Congress as the other group of Americans who have also been silent. What a low bar, what a poor measure of moral courage for an intellectual. She says other civil right activists have also been silent for fear of losing funding or being called “anti-Semites”. What an astonishing confession of spineless careerism.
I read the piece and I wondered: Who are those who have been silent before Michelle Alexander bashfully broke her silence?
There is no silence about Palestine. Quite to the contrary. There is a global uproar about Palestine. The assumption that when a newly appointed columnist for the New York Times timorously utters a few muffled facts about Palestine then “the silence” has been broken is a misbegotten subterfuge of truth, for it claims for the author and the paper that has published her a credibility they both lack.
No one has paid more dearly and spoken more eloquently than the Palestinians themselves, with their blood and bones which those very pages – which Ms Alexander has now been allowed to grace with her belated confessions – have systematically maligned and continue to malign.
You read the article, word by word, and not a single Palestinian, not a single Arab, not a single Muslim ever gets the dignity of a citation – for having never been silent. In their own occupied homeland or suffering the indignity of exile, Palestinians as a people, as scholars, intellectuals, historians, journalists, artists, poets, filmmakers, archivists, they simply never ever so much as utter a word in Michelle Alexander’s long and illustrious essay, so adored by her fellow liberal silencers.
Palestine here is a matter between one group of Americans and another. They need to sort out their differences and come to an agreement from now on how to talk about “Israel-Palestine”- for Palestinians themselves are dumb, deaf, and blind, they don’t matter. It doesn’t matter what they say, what they have suffered, what they scream, write, sing, dance, photograph, film, recite in their poetry or detail in their works of art. They do not exist. Golda Meir’s nefarious pronouncement that Palestinians do not exist is alive and well in Michelle Alexander’s column.
Forget about the Palestinians. At least read the Israelis. They should be safe for your column. Even Israelis talk about Palestinians and the terror they have perpetrated on them. In liberal Zionist outlets like Haaretz, Ms Alexander can see the nightmarish distortion the New York Times has created about Palestine and Palestinians. Have Gideon Levy or Amira Hass been silent on Palestine? Their regular columns documenting the terrors of the settler colony will open up the horizons of any American liberal Zionist trapped inside the New York Times discourse.
Has the pre-eminent Israeli historian Ilan Pappe been silent about Palestine? No Israeli, no European, no American historian has been as eloquent, thorough, detailed and, given the fact that he still lives in Israel, as courageous as Ilan Pappe in documenting the terror the Israelis have perpetrated on Palestinians. “Incremental genocide” perpetrated by the Zionists against Palestinians is his phrase. Read him. He is an Israeli, and has not been silent.
But the situation has moved beyond that – these parochial American intellectuals are too lost a cause. Consider the recent publication of an extraordinary book, The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and History, edited by Bashir Bashir and Amos Goldberg. Just take a look at this book. Who in the world has been silent? Certainly not the most eloquent among Israeli and Palestinian critical thinkers and scholars, turning the Zionist delusional fiction upside down.
This invitation to “break the silence” on Palestine is a crude trap. It falsely suggests there has been a silence on Palestine before the New York Times enabled breaking it and from then on it determines in what particularly muffled, intellectually dishonest, and morally compromised ways are we to talk about Palestine.
The principal excuse liberal American intellectuals use to refrain from talking about Palestine is the fear of being called “anti-Semites.” One more time, repeat after me: The only people who are scared of being called anti-Semites are the anti-Semites. Palestinians in and out of their occupied and stolen homeland could not care less if Zionists call or do not call them anti-Semites.
Nobody on planet Earth has discredited the charge of anti-Semitism more than the Zionists have. A racist anti-Semite mass murderer goes on a rampage massacring Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Israeli ambassador blames “the radical left on campuses,” while singing the praise of Donald Trump, the anti-Semite in-chief, who once identified Hillary Clinton with the Star of David to discredit her with his racist, white-supremacist supporters.
On those campuses and in scores of other places, while Ms Alexander has been quietly catering to her career, the Israeli Hasbara officers malign those who have been speaking loudly and clearly and paid dearly for their speaking out.
While Ms Alexander has been enjoying her much-deserved fame and reputation, others have been defamed, scandalised, blacklisted, their names published in books by Zionist thugs as “the most dangerous professors”, placed on top of the despicable Canary Mission blacklist, their ability to travel compromised, their names and reputations maligned. They have, to be sure, paid the price willingly and confidently for speaking truth to power. But to come and tell them from the pages of the New York times it is time to break the silence is a nauseating joke.
They tell us this column has to be read in the American context and it is important that the New York Times has published this essay. But why? By what authority? Who died and made The New York Times the measure of anything?
Why should the world care what Americans who read the New York Times think of anything, let alone of Palestine? Is it because they are a dangerous military power that we have to listen to whatever gibberish they speak? The world has moved on. The world is not the US. The US is the chief menace to the peace and sanity of the world.
The US has ruled and ruined the world from one end to another. The most detestable regimes from Asia and Africa to Latin America, and in the entirety of the Arab and Muslim world, have been enabled by gruesome characters like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton. Why should we care what American columnists and newspapers think about anything? What sort of deranged and deeply colonised mind would think that if the New York Times doesn’t deign to admit that Palestinians have been wronged then they have not been wronged?
Look at the towering moral authority of Angela Davis and her unwavering position on what she beautifully calls “the indivisibility of justice.” From Angela Davis to Tamika Mallory, from the Women’s March to Black Lives Matter, all brave political visionaries, all of them the target of Zionist defamation, they stand infinitely superior to the moral equivocations of any columnist the New York Times chooses to publish.
Translate Michelle Alexander’s essay into Arabic and read it to a Palestinian mother whose child has just been murdered by the Israelis and you can configure the incurable myopic parochialism of an American intellectual.
American provincialism is rooted in their near-obsessive identity politics, trapped inside a communal grievance, limited within a vast country that sees itself as the centre, indeed the very purpose, of the universe. It is a symptom of the frontier fiction that American historian Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932) theorised in his seminal “Frontier Thesis.”
The miasmatic frontiers of that world now extend from cyberspace to outer space. They never have a need or an urge to know anything about anywhere unless their service of the empire requires a deeply dysfunctional knowledge of it. There is no hermeneutic feel, no affective encounter, no moral investment in other people’s sufferings in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. Plenty of expert knowledge of the garden-variety, think-tank ilk. But no moral stake in what suffering their country has inflicted upon the world.
Begin with Angela Davis, a noble stranger in her own homeland, and take her precious phrase, “the indivisibility of justice” and that truth will set you free.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.
The Israeli-US war declared on the Palestinian boycott movement is coming to a head, culminating in a well-orchestrated effort aimed at suffocating any form of tangible protest of the ongoing Israeli colonization of Palestine.
But an Israeli ‘victory’, even with blind US government support, is still too elusive if at all guaranteed. Killing unarmed protesters at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel is often whitewashed as Israel ‘defending itself’. However, legislating unconstitutional laws against the rights of ordinary people to boycott a state that practices war crimes might not be an easy endeavor.
The fact that 26 US states have already passed legislation or some form of condemnation of the civil act of boycott, as championed in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) should, in fact, raise more awareness of the iniquitous Israeli influence on the United States, rather than actually thwarting BDS.
The US Senate first bill of 2019 (S.B.1) titled: “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019” called on state and local governments to withhold contracts from any individual or business entity that boycotts Israel.
The bill was defeated, which is a promising sign. However, it must be noted as profound, if not altogether outrageous, that a country that is subsisting in a government shutdown and political crisis would find it both compelling and necessary to push for such a law in defense of a foreign country.
The bill will reappear again, of course. Alas, Americans should now get used to the idea that Israel’s priorities, however skewed and irrational in defense of its illegal military occupation of Palestine, will become the main rally cry for the US government for years to come.
While such a notion has proved true in the past, never before did ordinary Americans find themselves the main target in the political agenda of the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Even the mere protest of this agenda is being shunned. Iconic US civil rights activist, Angela Davis, 74, deservingly celebrated for her contribution to American society for decades, was denied an award by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute because of her defense of Palestinians and support of BDS.
This witch-hunt, which has now reached the most admired intellectuals of American society is affecting ordinary citizens everywhere as well, which is an alarming development in Israel’s unchecked power in the United States.
But how did Israel and its supporters acquire such disproportionate influence over the US government and society as a whole?
In short, the Lobby.
Cheered on by American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other pro-Israel lobbies, the US Congress is now leading the Israeli war on Palestinians and their supporters. In the process, they are attempting to demolish the very core of American democratic values.
The build-up to this particular battle, which will certainly be accentuated in 2019, began when AIPAC declared in its “2017 Lobbying Agenda” (PDF) that criminalizing the boycott of Israel is a top priority.
The US Congress, which has historically proven subservient to the Israeli government and its lobbies, enthusiastically embraced AIPAC’s efforts. This resulted in the Senate Bill S.720, also known as the “Anti-Israel Boycott Act”, which aimed to ban the boycott of Israel and its illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
The bill almost immediately gained the support of 48 Senators and 234 House members. Unsurprisingly, it was drafted mostly by AIPAC itself.
Punishment for those who violate the proposed law ranged from $250,000 to $1 million and 10 years imprisonment.
Anti-Palestinian measures in the US are nothing new. In fact, ardent support for Israel and the complete disregard for Palestinians is the only aspect which Democrats and Republicans have in common. It will remain to be seen if the inclusion of progressive and Muslim women in this current House lineup will change or at least challenge that reality.
For now, the sad truth is that the very individuals who were meant to guard the Constitution are the ones openly violating it. The First Amendment to the US Constitution has been the pillar in defense of the people’s right to free speech, freedom of the press, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.
This right has, however, often been curtailed when it applies to Israel. The Center for Constitutional Rights refers to this fact as “The Palestine Exception“.
Dire as it may seem, there is something positive in this. For many years, it has been wrongly perceived that Israel’s solicitation of American support against Palestinians and Arabs is by no means a foreign country meddling or interfering in the US political system or undermining US democracy.
However, the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” is the most egregious of such interventions, for it strikes down the First Amendment, the very foundation of American democracy, by using America’s own legislators as its executors.
But none of this will succeed because simply put, noble ideas cannot be defeated.
Moreover, for Israel, this is a new kind of battle, one which it is foolishly attempting to fight using the traditional tactics of threats and intimidation and backed by blind US support.
The more the lobby tries to defeat BDS the more it exposes itself and its stranglehold on the American government and media.
Israel is no student of history. It has learned nothing from the experience of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. It is no surprise that Israel remained the last supporter of the Apartheid regime in that country before it fell.
For true champions of human rights, regardless of their race, religion or citizenship, this is their moment as no meaningful change ever occurs without people being united in struggle and sacrifice.
Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is http://www.ramzybaroud.net.
Source | MEMO
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.
A number of prominent Jewish-American leaders are funding covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists online.
Jan 10, 2019
(MEMO) — A number of prominent Jewish-American leaders are funding covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, The Forward has found. The Jewish daily newspaper, which has been publishing valuable information concerning the source of funding for these hyper-aggressive and shadowy groups – which spearhead coordinated hate campaigns against critics of the Zionist state – has uncovered the identities of those behind hidden social media accounts.
Community heads and prominent Jewish organisations with a carefully-crafted, respectable public profile have donated millions to fund secret projects targeting students and lecturers, the report has found. On a number of occasions, their blind support for Israel has seen them bankroll far-right and anti-Muslim hate groups.
The latest pro-Israeli group to be exposed by The Forward is the campaign targeting the pro-Palestinian campus network Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP is said to be the most well-known advocate of the Palestinian cause on US campuses. It has been the target of a pro-Israel group known as SJP Uncovered, which anonymously attacks student activists affiliated with SJP across the country. With more than 100,000 followers on Facebook, SJP Uncovered has gone after pro-Palestinian students by maintaining a veil of anonymity that is said to be all-but impenetrable.
Until now, the source of funding for SJP Uncovered had been a mystery. The Forward has now been able to shed light on the organisation to reveal that the site is a secret project of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a Washington DC-based pro-Israel organisation tied to most mainstream funders and organisations in the Jewish community.
On its official website, the ICC says that its vision is to create a campus environment where “dialogue and ideas are freely exchanged about Israel”. Publicly, the ICC presents a respectable face typical of nearly all pro-Israeli groups, but privately it is funding one of the most aggressive and shadowy student groups responsible for hateful campaigns against critics of the Zionist state. The Forward revealed that the ICC paid over $1 million in the 2016/2017 fiscal year to SJP Uncovered, in that time also running vicious campaigns against students with the aid of political consulting firms.
Until around 2014, the ICC is said to have been a standard pro-Israel advocacy group receiving donations from the largest and most mainstream Jewish-American foundations. In 2015, its operations changed to “covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, often with the help of top-tier paid professional political consultants,” according to the investigative report.
Describing the change in focus, one former pro-Israeli campus official said: “It was clear that the old way of doing business […] was not making the cut, and was not enough, and there was a totally new offensive approach to things.” He added:
The overall framing was [that] the pro-Israel community is no longer going to sit back and let things happen, they are going to go on the offense […] It was very clear that going on the offensive to them meant going after students and the organizations that were bringing BDS.
With the change in emphasis in 2015 towards more aggressive campaigns, the ICC began hiring paid political consultants – including opposition researchers – to work on campuses. It transformed itself into a cog in what is often described as Israel’s secret global war against pro-Palestinian activists, which is operated by a dedicated ministry in Tel Aviv known as the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Its main function is to spearhead Israel’s overt and covert efforts to smear the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is modeled on the global campaign that helped end Apartheid in South Africa. In November, the Electronic Intifada published in full an undercover Al Jazeera documentary that revealed some of the ministry’s tactics. The documentary was censored, allegedly after Israel lobby pressure on Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera.
SJP Uncovered is one of many pro-Israel organisations to emerge from a new consensus within sections of the Jewish-American community. They believed that defeating the global BDS movement was a key priority, which could only be achieved through aggressive means. Such tactics, however, not only risked falling foul of the rules of respectable public institutions, it was bad for their image. The solution for Zionist and pro-Israel groups, both in the US and Israel, was to adopt secretive and clandestine tactics against their targets in an effort to protect their reputation. One of the best known of these operations is the formerly-anonymous website Canary Mission, which posts political dossiers on college students. The site went live in 2015, and has since grown to include dossiers on thousands of students.
A series of Forward exposés in October revealed that a foundation controlled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, a major Jewish charity with an annual budget of over $100 million, had donated $100,000 to the website, whose work has drawn comparisons to a McCarthyite blacklist. An Haaretz profile of the Canary Mission found that, for three years, the website had spread fear among undergraduate activists by posting more than a thousand political dossiers on student supporters of Palestinian rights. At the same time, the website had gone to great lengths to hide the digital and financial trail connecting it to its donors and staff. Registered through a secrecy service, the site had been untraceable until recently.
While the federation had assured that it was a “one-time grant” that would never happen again, the uncovering of a publicly respectable pro-Israel organisations giving funds to operate clandestine hate campaigns against pro-Palestinian activists triggered further investigations. The Canary Mission was just the tip of the iceberg, as tax filings seen by the magazine +972 showed that there was a pattern of systemic financing of radical right-wing and anti-Muslim groups.
Why was 2015 pivotal to this shift in strategy? Jewish leaders in the US, says Forward reporter Josh Nathan-Kazis, decided to spend significant communal resources attacking college students in that year because there was a coming-together of Israel’s spy culture and Jewish-American mega donors like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban. Both felt that the work being carried out by mainstream Jewish organisations was unsatisfactory. Wanting to shift the entire tenor of the Jewish communal approach to fighting anti-Semitism and BDS, major Jewish organisations were called to a secret meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
During this 2015 meeting, there was a consensus for a push towards more aggressive responses to BDS. A new initiative, named after Jewish guerrilla warriors Maccabees, was formed. On its website, the Maccabee taskforce – which claims that the BDS movement is spreading anti-Semitism across the world – says it is “determined to help students combat this hate by bringing them the strategies and resources they need to tell the truth about Israel”.
Strategies developed by Israeli think tanks like the Reut Institute became the playbook for the aggressive tactics that is said to have come into maturity during that period. These tactics, Nathan-Kazis explains, called for pro-Israel advocates to “out, name and shame” harsh critics of Israel, and to “frame them […] as anti-peace, anti-Semitic, or dishonest purveyors of double standards”. They talked about “establishing a ‘price tag’” for attacks on Israel and “isolating” advocacy groups that attack Israel, while “organizing regular meetings of pro-Israel networks”.
“The Lobby,” the four-part Al-Jazeera documentary that was blocked under heavy Israeli pressure shortly before its release, has been leaked online by the Chicago-based website Electronic Intifada, the French website Orient XXI and the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar. The series is an inside look over five months by an undercover reporter, armed with a hidden camera, […]
“The Lobby,” the four-part Al-Jazeera documentary that was blocked under heavy Israeli pressure shortly before its release, has been leaked online by the Chicago-based website Electronic Intifada, the French website Orient XXI and the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.
The series is an inside look over five months by an undercover reporter, armed with a hidden camera, at how the government and intelligence agencies of Israel work with U.S. domestic Jewish groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Israel Project and StandWithUs to spy on, smear and attack critics, especially American university students who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. It shows how the Israel lobby uses huge cash donations, often far above the U.S. legal limit, and flies hundreds of members of Congress to Israel for lavish and unpaid vacations at Israeli seaside resorts, bribing the American lawmakers to do Israel’s bidding, including providing military aid such as the $38 billion (over 10 years) that was approved by Congress in 2016. It uncovers Israel’s sleazy character assassination of academics, activists and journalists, its well-funded fake grassroots activism, its manipulation of press coverage, and its ham-fisted attempts to destroy marriages, personal relationships and careers. The film highlights the efforts to discredit liberal Jews and Jewish organizations as tools of radical jihadists, referring, for example, to Jewish Voice for Peace as “Jewish Voice for Hamas” and claiming that many members of the organization are not actually Jewish. Israel recruits black South Africans into an Israeli front group called Stop Stealing My Apartheid, in a desperate effort to counter the reality of the apartheid state that Israel has constructed. The series documents Israel’s repeated and multifaceted interference in the internal affairs of the United States, including elections; efforts to discredit progressive groups such as Black Lives Matter that express sympathy for the Palestinians; and routine employment of Americans to spy on other Americans. Israel’s behavior is unethical and perhaps illegal. But don’t expect anyone in the establishment or either of the two ruling political parties to do anything about it. It is abundantly clear by the end of the series that they have been intimidated, discredited or bought off.
“Imagine if China was doing this, if Iran was doing this, if Russia was doing this?” Ali Abunimah, the author of “The Battle for Justice in Palestine” and co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, says in the film. “There would be uproar. You would have Congress going off to them. You would have hearings.”
Those of us who denounce and expose the Israeli crimes committed against Palestinians are intimately familiar with the sordid and nefarious tactics of the Israel lobby. The power of the film series is that in dealing with the reporter—a young Oxford postgraduate, James Anthony Kleinfeld, who goes by the name Tony in the film and poses as a pro-Israel student—major figures within the Israel lobby candidly explain and expose their massive covert campaign in the United States. There is no plausible deniability. And this is why Israel worked so hard to stop the film from being broadcast.
Clayton Swisher, who directed the series, wrote in the liberal Jewish newspaper The Forward that leaders from the Israel lobby met with the state of Qatar’s registered agent and lobbyist, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz named Nick Muzin, to “see if he could use his ties with the Qataris to stop the airing.” Qatar funds Al-Jazeera. Muzin told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that “he was discussing the issue with the Qataris and didn’t think the film would broadcast in the near future.” An anonymous source told Haaretz that “the Qatari emir himself helped make the decision” to spike the film.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar in June 2017 and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the Persian Gulf state. They accuse Doha of supporting terrorism and radical Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. The four states have issued a list of demands for re-establishing ties that include Qatar’s shutting down Al-Jazeera, along with severing relations with Iran. Qatar has appealed to the United States to intercede and has, as part of this effort, reached out to the powerful Israel lobby in the United States for support. American Jewish leaders, including the former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, have met with the Qatari emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and have discussed with him what they describe as the network’s “anti-Semitism.” It is widely believed the series was sacrificed by Qatar in an effort to placate the Israel lobby and get its support for an end to the sanctions, although the blockade remains in force.
The series exposes how Israeli intelligence services monitor American critics of Israel and feeds real-time information about them to American Jewish organizations.
“We are for example in the process of creating a comprehensive picture of the campuses,” Brig. Gen. Sima Vaknin-Gil, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, tells a gathering of pro-Israel activists in the film. “If you want to defeat a phenomenon you must have the upper hand in terms of information and knowledge.”
The Israeli government operates Israel Cyber Shield, a civil intelligence unit that collects and analyzes BDS activities and coordinates attacks against the BDS movement.
“We are giving them data—for example, one day Sima’s deputy is sending me a photo. Just a photo on Whatsapp,” Sagi Balasha, who was CEO of the Israeli-American Council from 2011 to 2015, says when speaking on an Israeli-American Council panel. “It’s written ‘Boycott Israel’ on the billboard.”
He shows a picture of a roadside billboard that reads: “BOYCOTT ISRAEL UNTIL PALESTINIANS HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS. StopFundingApartheid.org.”
“In a few hours our systems and analysts could find the exact organization, people, and even their names, and where they live,” says Balasha, who now works with cyber-intelligence organizations that target BDS activists. “We gave it back to the ministry, and I have no idea what they did with this. But the fact is, three days later there were no billboards.”
“We use all sorts of technology,” Jacob Baime, the executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, says in the film. “We use corporate-level, enterprise-grade social media intelligence software. Almost all of this happens on social media, so we have custom algorithms and formulae that acquire this stuff immediately.”
“Generally, within about 30 seconds or less of one of these things popping up on campus, whether it’s a Facebook event, whether it’s the right kind of mention on Twitter, the system picks it up,” says Baime. “It goes into a queue and alerts our researchers and they evaluate it. They tag it, and if it rises to a certain level, we issue early-warning alerts to our partners.”
Those recruited by the Israel lobby, including the undercover Al-Jazeera reporter in the documentary, are sent to training sessions such as Fuel the Truth. The film records a session in which trainees watch a video of Palestinian children as the narrator says, “Children are taught in UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees] Palestinian schools to hate Jews.” The trainees are told that scenes of devastation in Gaza are, in fact, misrepresented images disseminated by critics from Syria or Iraq. They are instructed in role-playing workshops how to brand all those who criticize Israeli policies as anti-Semites, members of a hate group or self-hating Jews.
The reporter is placed in the so-called war room run by The Israel Project, known as TIP, which monitors American media for stories on Israel and the Palestinians. The goal is “neutralizing undesired narratives.”
“We develop relationships … ,” David Hazony, the managing director of The Israel Project, says about how to influence journalists. “A lot of alcohol to get them to trust us. We’re basically messaging on the following—BDS is essentially a kind of a hate group targeting Israel. They’re anti-peace. We try not to even use the terms because it builds their brand. We just refer to boycotters. The goal is to actually make things happen. And to figure out what are the means of communication to do that.”
The BDS movement, which I support, was formed in 2005. It is an attempt by Palestinian civil rights groups to build a nonviolent international movement to boycott Israel, divest from Israeli companies and eventually impose sanctions—as was done against apartheid South Africa—until basic Palestinian rights under international law are achieved. While the movement has not gained traction financially in the United States, with most colleges and universities refusing to divest, it has been very effective at illuminating the injustices committed against Palestinians by Israel and severely eroded Israel’s credibility and support in the U.S. This ongoing shift in public opinion terrifies Israel, which has poured tremendous resources into crushing the BDS movement.
“Government ministers attacked me in person,” Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the BDS movement, says in the film. “One of them threatening BDS leaders with targeted civil assassination. Others threatened to revoke my permanent residency [in Israel], along other threats.”
“We suffered from intense denial-of-service attacks, hacking attacks on our website,” Barghouti says. “Israel decided to go on cyber warfare against BDS. Publicly, they said, ‘We shall spy on BDS individuals and networks, especially in the West.’ We have not heard a peep from any Western government complaining that Israel is admitting that it will spy on your citizens. Imagine Iran saying it will spy on British or American citizens. Just imagine what could happen.”
“So, like nobody really knows what we’re doing,” says Julia Reifkind, who was director of community affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. “But mainly it’s been a lot of research, like monitoring BDS things and reporting it back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Like making sure everyone knows what’s going on. They need a lot of research done and stuff like that. When they talk about it in the Knesset, we’ve usually contributed to what the background information is. I’m not going to campuses. It’s more about connecting organizations and I guess campuses, providing resources and strategy if students need it.”
“I write a report and give it to my boss, who translates it,” Reifkind says. “It’s really weird. We don’t talk to them on the phone or email. There’s a special server that’s really secure that I don’t have access to because I’m an American. You have to have clearance to access the server. It’s called Cables. It’s not even the same [word translated] in Hebrew, it’s like literally ‘Cables.’ I’ve seen it. It looks really bizarre. So, I write reports that my boss translates into the cables and sends them. Then they’ll send something back. Then he’ll translate it and tell me what I need to do.”
“Is the Israeli Embassy trying to leverage faculty?” Tony, the undercover reporter, asks her.
“Yeah,” she says. “We are working with several faculty advocacy groups that kind of train faculty, and so we are helping them a little bit with funding, connections, bringing them to speak, having them to speak to diplomats and people at the MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] that need this information. So, I want to be that resource to show students what we’re doing, to see what you’re doing, here’s some information if you need anything at all. We can connect you. Just kind of be that person there for you.”
Reifkind was president of the pro-Israel group at the University of California at Davis and worked closely with the Israel lobby to attempt to crush the BDS movement on campus, especially after Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) brought a divestment motion to the student senate.
“We knew they were going to win because the entire student senate was all pro-BDS,” she says. “They ran for that purpose and won for that purpose. We have been pushed out of student government for months.”
Reifkind and a few supporters went to the senate meeting where the vote was scheduled.
“We have been ignored and disrespected year after year, but we have never been silenced,” she tells the student gathering. “We are a beacon of peace and inclusion on a campus plagued by anti-Semitism.”
“The intolerance that spawned this [divestment] resolution is the same kind of intolerance that spawned anti-Semitic movements throughout history,” she shouts.
She and her handful of supporters walk out, an action they had agreed on in advance and then carefully filmed.
The passing of the BDS motion at UC Davis set the gears of the Israel lobby and the Israeli government in motion.
“That day all of us released like 50 op-eds in major news sources so that when people made a hashtag, like a whole thing trending, so when people opened their Facebooks it wouldn’t be them celebrating their victory,” Reifkind says in the film. “It would be us sharing our stories. Once it blew up, then random people like The Huffington Post contacted me and was like, “Do you have anything to say?” And I was like, ‘Conveniently, I wrote an op-ed two weeks ago just in case.’ ”
Israel and its surrogates in the United States used their considerable resources to carry out vicious and anonymous personal attacks against the campus BDS activists at UC Davis, calling them “terrorists” and “Hamas sympathizers” who support Sharia on campus. The lobby also skillfully framed the narrative in the national media, claiming falsely that the pro-Israel students were forced out of the meeting room.
“Pro-Israel students were taunted by pro-Hamas students after an anti-Israel vote passed on campus,” says an announcer on Fox News as a caption underneath video reads, “RUNNING RAMPANT: UC Davis Plagued by Anti-Semitic Feelings.” “And right after the vote passed, a student senator posted this on Facebook, ‘Hamas and Sharia law have taken over UC Davis. Brb [be right back] crying over the resilience.’ ”
Shortly after the vote, Jewish students said they found two swastikas painted on their fraternity house in Davis. The media, tipped off, was at the fraternity house almost immediately. The BDS activists were blamed for the graffiti.
The film shows a CBS 13 news clip.
Television reporter: “Pro-Israel students said they feared recent events would lead to this.”
UC Davis male student: “This has been sort of a bad week to be Jewish on campus.”
Television reporter: “After years of heated meetings, the student body passed a resolution Thursday, urging UC Davis to end any affiliation with companies that support Israel.”
Another UC Davis male student, speaking in front of one of the swastikas: “So, this is not out of the blue. We’re pretty sure this is directly related.”
“StandWithUs helped us a little bit in terms of actual research on the speech,” Reifkind says in referring to her comments before the student senate. “They gave us some legal research type stuff. I’m always biased and want to work with AIPAC. They kind of helped, more like mold support. And David Projecthelped us a little bit. It was more help like gaining contacts in the media world. I guess we needed money to pay for someone to film the speech. We had a Davis Faculty for Israel group, and they were hugely helpful to us. Some of them were retired lawyers, they’d write legal documents for us. They knew the administration. They were tenured. They had pull.”
“After looking back on everything, I feel a little creepy because of what happened after the vote,” says Marcelle Obeid, the president of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis. “People who were affiliated with the [pro-Palestinian] group were just smeared and had to deal with these very personal crises—the world calling us terrorists, the world thinking that we were this spiteful hate group. It’s pretty unequivocal how organized they were, how brutal and ruthless that narrative was, and how it affected us.”
The Electronic Intifada’s Abunimah says,
“There’s an intensive effort by Israel and pro-Israel groups to get governments, universities, legislative bodies to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that includes criticism of Israel and its state ideology, Zionism.”
“They have created this perverse definition of anti-Semitism where calling for everyone in Palestine and Israel to have equal rights is somehow an attack on Jews,” he says. “They’re trying to get this pushed into official definitions. This has been a key goal of the Brandeis Center so they can go after people who are advocating for equality and bring them up on charges that they’re actually anti-Semitic bigots.”
Kenneth Marcus, founding president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, confirms this stance in the film and is shown saying:
“You have to show that they’re racist hate groups, that they are using intimidation to get funded, and to consistently portray them that way.”
But despite its campaign, Israel is acutely aware that it is losing the public relations war, especially among the young.
“The polling isn’t good,” David Brog, executive director of the Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS on American campuses, says in the film. “And all of you probably know that if you look at the polls, the younger you get on the demographic scales, the lower support for Israel is. … It seems to be achieving its goals. I think it threatens future American support for Israel. Younger people are leaving college less sympathetic to Israel than when they entered.”
And many of these young people are Jewish, finding their identity and meaning in values that Israel refuses to uphold.
“The work that Jewish Voice for Peace does is grounded in Jewish tradition, the most basic Jewish and human values that every single person has inherent worth and dignity and should be treated with respect,” Rabbi Joseph Berman says in the film. “We then see what’s happening to Palestinians, the occupation, the displacement, the inequality, and say we need to end these things.”
But while Israel may be losing in the court of public opinion, it tightly embraces elected officials in the United States, where legalized bribery is institutionalized.
“Does the war of ideas matter?” asks Eric Gallagher, who was a director at AIPAC from 2010 to 2015. “I don’t know. I don’t know. I know that getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel matters, which is what AIPAC just did. That’s what I’m proud to have been a part of for so long. My job was basically to convince students that participating in the war of ideas on campuses is actually a distraction. You can hold up signs and have rallies on campus, but the Congress gets $3.1 billion a year for Israel. Everything AIPAC does is focused on influencing Congress. Congress is where you have leverage. So, you can’t influence the president of the United States directly, but the Congress can.”
“What the lobby is all about is to make sure that Israel gets special treatment from the United States, forever,” John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and co-author of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” says in the film.
“What AIPAC does is it makes sure that money is funneled your way if you’re seen as pro-Israel, and it will go to significant lengths to make sure that you stay in office if you continue to be staunchly pro-Israel.”
“What happens is Jeff [Talpins] meets with congressmen in the backroom, tells them exactly what his goals are,” David Ochs, founder of HaLev, says of the pro-Israeli hedge fund manager Jeff Talpins and how politicians receive sums of as much as $200,000 from the Israel lobby. “And by the way, Jeff Talpins is worth $250 million. Basically, they hand an envelope with 20 credit cards and say, ‘You can swipe each of these credit card for $1,000 each.’ ”
“If you wander off the reservation and become critical of Israel, you not only will not get money, AIPAC will go to great lengths to find someone who will run against you,” Mearsheimer says. “And support that person very generously. The end result is you’re likely to lose your seat in Congress.”
“They have questionnaires,” recalls former U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, a Democrat from northern Virginia who was in the House from 1991 to 2015. Moran, who opposed the 2002 congressional resolution to invade Iraq, became a target for the Israel lobby, which pushed hard for the war. “Anyone running for Congress is required [by the lobby] to fill out a questionnaire. And they [AIPAC] evaluate the depth of your commitment to Israel on the basis of [those questions]. And then you have an interview with local people. If you get AIPAC support, then more often than not you’re going to win.”
“There was a conservative rabbi in my district who was assigned to me, I assume, by AIPAC,” Moran says. “He warned me that if I voiced my views about the Israeli lobby that my career would be over, and implied that it would be done through the Post. Sure enough, The Washington Post editorialized brutally. Everyone ganged up.”
There is a screen shot of a Washington Post headline: “Sorry, Mr. Moran, You’re Not Fit For Public Office.”
Character assassination is a common tactic used by the Israel lobby against its critics. Bill Mullen, a professor of American studies at Purdue University, has been a campaigner for the BDS movement for years. His wife was sent a link to a website containing a letter addressed to her.
“It was a Sunday,” he says. “I was in the kitchen. My partner was in the living room with my daughter. Came in with her laptop and said, ‘You’ve got to see this.’ This letter, reported to be by a former student, said she had been sexually harassed by me. She had found other students at Purdue who have had the same experience. And she was writing this letter to tell their story. Within a very short time, within about 48 hours, we were able to establish that these multiple sites that were attacking me had been taken out [created] almost at the same time. And that they were clearly the work of the same people. One of the accounts said, in the process of supposedly putting my hand on her, I invited her to a Palestine organizational meeting. Well, I thought, ‘You’re sort of putting your cards on the table there,’ whoever you are.”
“With the anti-Israel people, what we found has been most effective, in the last year, you do the opposition research,” says Baime, the Israel on Campus Coalition official. “Put up an anonymous website. Then put up targeted Facebook ads. Every few hours you drip out a new piece of opposition research, it’s psychological warfare. It drives them crazy. They either shut down or they spend time investigating it and responding to it, which is time they can’t spend attacking Israel. That’s incredibly effective.”
“It was really an attempt, by people who didn’t know us, ‘Maybe I can destroy this marriage at the very least,’ ” Purdue’s Mullen says. “ ‘Maybe I can cause them horrendous, personal suffering.’ The same letter purporting to me harassment, sent to my wife, used the name of our daughter. I think that was the worst moment. We thought, ‘These people will do anything. They’re capable of doing anything.’ ”
Perhaps the film’s greatest investigative coup is the unwitting disclosure by Eric Gallagher at The Israel Project that the hedge fund manager Adam Milstein is “the guy who funds” the anonymous Canary Mission website. The website provides the names, backgrounds and photos of students, professors, invited speakers and organizations that are allegedly tied to terrorism and anti-Semitism through their support for Palestinian rights.
“There’s a guy named who you might want to meet,” Gallagher says to Tony about Adam Milstein. “He’s a convicted felon. That’s a bad way to describe him. He’s a real estate mogul. When I was working with him at AIPAC, I was literally emailing back and forth with him while he was in jail. He’s loaded. He’s close to half a billion dollars.”
Milstein was convicted of tax evasion and sent to prison for three months in 2009. The Israeli-American Council, which he leads, funds numerous pro-Israel organizations: Milstein also sits on the boards of AIPAC, StandWithUs and the Israel on Campus Coalition. He is close to billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the wealthiest donor to the pro-Israel lobby and the largest donor to the Trump campaign.
The promotional video for the Canary Mission, played in the film, says: “A few years later, these individuals are applying for jobs in your companies … ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees.”
“It was shattering to me because I had to look for a job, I had to start my life,” Obeid from UC Davis says. “And now I had this website smearing my name before I even got a chance to make a name for myself.”
“Somebody did contact my employer and asked for me to be fired based on my pro-Palestine activism,” says Summer Award, who campaigned at the University of Tennessee for Palestinian equal rights. “They said if they continued to employ me, their values are anti-Semitic. It can be really scary at first. I was mostly harassed via Twitter. They were tweeting me every two or three days. They take screen shots, even way back to my Facebook pictures that don’t even look like me anymore. Just digging and digging through my online presence.”
Israel’s moral bankruptcy is powerfully exposed in one of the last scenes in the film. Tony joins an “astroturf” protest organized by the Hoover Institution. Those in the protest have been paid to travel on a bus to George Mason University to disrupt a conference of Students for Justice in Palestine. They are coached by Lerman Mazar, the StandWithUs director of legal affairs, in what to shout.
“If you do happen to speak with any reporters just stay on message,” Mazar tells her lackluster protesters. “And what is the message? SJP is a ….”
“Hate group,” the protesters answer feebly.
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Chris Hedges is a Truthdig columnist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a New York Times best-selling author, a professor in the college degree program offered to New Jersey state prisoners by Rutgers University, and an ordained Presbyterian minister.
Featured image is from Mr. Fish/Truthdig
Boycott everything Israeli! Or relocate Israel to Florida!
Hollywood celebrities raised a record breaking $60 million for the Israeli army last week.
(MEMO) — Hollywood celebrities raised a record breaking $60 million for the Israeli military at the Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF) annual gala last week.
This year’s sold-out Western Region event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel welcomed more than 1,200 supporters of Israel, including prominent actors and singers like Ashton Kutcher, Pharrell Williams, Gerard Butler, and Katharine McPhee.“We are thrilled that so many members of our community, including major Hollywood figures, are coming together to help us support the brave men and women of the [Israeli army].” said FIDF National Board Member and Chairman of the event, Haim Saban. “Standing behind these heroes is one of my greatest honours in my life.”
The event featured a programme that told the 70-year history of Israel through the accounts of soldiers and the military’s various campaigns against the Palestinians.
It also included several contributions from former and current Israeli soldiers.
Last year, FIDF raised $53.8 million at the same event; contributions have been increasing annually for the past three years. In 2015 the gala raised $31 million, half of this year’s total.
According to a press release by the organisation, the funds raised will be used to “provide much-needed and well-deserved services such as academic scholarships to combat veterans, financial assistance for soldiers in need … crucial aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, weeks of rest and recuperation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.”
Last month, the FIDF’s New York event raised $32 million for members of Israel’s occupation forces, attended by many of the city’s most prominent business people and philanthropists.
Among the biggest donors to the gala were Or Lachayal – an organisation which works to “strengthen the Jewish identity of the Israeli army” – which pledged $2.5 million and Nefesh B’Nefesh – which promotes Jewish immigration to Israel – which pledged $1.3 million.
FIDF has a long history of fundraising for Israel’s occupation forces; it operates 20 offices across the United States and Panama, according to its own website.
Support for the army from US organisations and the US government has been a cornerstone of Israel’s ability to continue its ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In October, the largest ever US military aid package to Israel – worth $38 billion over a ten year period – entered into force.
A leaked Al Jazeera documentary shows that the Israel lobby used false accusations of sexual assault to discredit BDS supporters.
(MPN) — A leaked Al Jazeera documentary detailing the tactics of the Israeli lobby in the United States and elsewhere has revealed that pro-Israel groups regularly invented smears, including false accusations of sexual assault, to discredit professors and students on U.S. university campuses that support equal rights for Palestinians and the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is a non-violent movement that seeks to use economic pressure on Israel’s government so that it complies with international law, ends the military occupation of the West Bank, and halts the decades-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.
In the third episode of the Al Jazeera documentary “The Lobby”, which was leaked online by the website Electronic Intifada, focus is given to the efforts of pro-Israel advocacy groups on U.S. universities, particularly the efforts of these groups to use aggressive information warfare tactics to discredit and smear activists. The documentary further reveals that these smear campaigns are incredibly well-funded – to the tune of millions of dollars – and involve coordination with the Israeli government’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
In one instance, Bill Mullen – a professor of American Studies at Purdue University and a well-known supporter of Palestinian rights and BDS – was accused of sexual harassment, supporting terrorism and other misdeeds by nearly two dozen anonymous web pages purporting to have been created by Mullen’s former students in 2016.
Mullen told Al Jazeera that within 48 hours of learning of the smear sites, he discovered that they had been created within moments of each other and appeared to be operated by the same individual or group. After the websites used the name of his daughter and were anonymously sent to his wife, Mullen told Al Jazeera that “these people will do anything, they’re capable of doing anything” to discredit pro-Palestinian solidarity activists.
The documentary further revealed that this tactic is promoted by pro-Israel campus organizations including the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). For instance, ICC executive director Jacob Baime discussed how “the anti-Israel people” are targeted by groups like the ICC who put “up some anonymous websites” and targeted Facebook ads that make false sexual harassment claims and other personal attacks as part of an effort to discredit them and their activism.
Baime then stated that this tactic is a form of “psychological warfare” that was “modeled on General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq” and that those tactics have “been working really well for us.” Baime appears to have misspoken, given that McChrystal’s strategy emphasizing “offensive information operations” was focused on Afghanistan, not Iraq.
However, Baime recounted that these efforts are often very successful, from his perspective, telling Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter that the activists targeted by smears “either shut down or they spend time responding to it and investigating it, which is time they can’t spend attacking Israel.”
Baime went on to state that ICC, which works closely with other pro-Israel university groups like StandWithUs, has a budget of $2 million for “research” used in such smear campaigns. He further admitted that his group and its affiliates coordinate with Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which employs a large number of former agents of the Mossad.
The recently leaked episode of “The Lobby” documentary shows that some pro-Israel activists have twisted efforts to give sexual assault survivors stronger voices by using fake harassment claims as ammo for their “psychological warfare” tactics against Palestine solidarity activists.
This use of fabricated sexual harassment smears to target pro-BDS activists threatens the recent high-profile efforts of the #MeToo movement and other related activist groups who seek to help promote an environment where the experiences of sexual assault survivors are more readily accepted.
In addition to the use of falsification and smears against BDS supporters, the documentary showed evidence that employees and volunteer pro-Israel campus groups were instructed to call BDS a “racist hate group” and were asked to produce multimedia content such as memes that even their own employees considered to be dishonest and “bigoted.”
An employee of the Israel Project who was featured in the documentary, Amanda Botfeld, told Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter that much of the pro-Israel advocacy work she had been asked to do made her feel “uneasy” and “uncomfortable” because it smeared Palestinian rights activists as “anti-Semites” and “racists” for criticizing Israeli government policy.
Another practice that made Botfeld feel uncomfortable was the creation of multimedia content for StandWithUs that featured “pictures of Palestinian kids with a knife” and other images that were used to paint young Palestinians that had been killed by Israeli police and soldiers as “terrorists”. Botfeld opined that the content she was asked to make while working with the Israel project was “bigoted” and she “was embarrassed to be associated with it.” Botfeld also said that one of her supervisors told her to insert the word “racist” in reference to BDS activism as often as possible.
The fact that even the employees of these pro-Israel groups are so acutely aware of the biased, bigoted nature of their response to the growth of the BDS movement underscores how these tactics are used to discourage and chill the atmosphere of debate by maligning and defaming activists and their message.
“There’s no greater slave revolt today, than that of the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation. In fact it’s the lynchpin to the struggle for global justice.”
With permission from
October 3, 2018
“Pigs rule the world”
– The key message in Roger Waters’ 2018 European Tour.
“I love [the EU elite]”
– The key part of a 2014 sycophantic speech Bono gave to Europe’s Center Right establishment (the folks who gave Europe war and austerity).
Listening to the politics of Roger Waters is rock and roll. The Pink Floyd genius is now the most prominent voice of the BDS movement that is defending Palestinian rights. At the moment, it feels like Waters is the only white man taking on the state of Israel (not forgetting the brilliance of Finkelstein). Indeed, considering the fact that Israel is the heart of Western geopolitics–the true target of Waters’ activism is the Western Empire itself. And he knows it.
In contrast, when listening to Bono pontificate, we hear bombers flying overhead. While Waters was in St. Petersburg this September, on tour, Bono was to be found in Paris, also on tour, but meeting up with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, as well. The U2 mediocrity claimed afterwards that he and “the bomber of Syria” were talking about Africa. It was the continuation of a discussion Bono began years ago with “the bombers of Iraq”–Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and George W. Bush.
Waters and Bono come from two different cultures: Waters from the 1960s and Bono from the 1980s. Pink Floyd’s debut album was released in 1967, while U2’s debut album saw the light in 1980. This is significant, because the bandleaders of both groups appear to have absorbed the politics of their formative years. Revolution in the case of Waters, and counterrevolution in the case of Bono. And the words of both today, respectively, continue to give expression to progress on the one hand, and regress on the other.
The culture wars between the 1960s and 1980s, between the culture of Che Guevara and the culture of Ronald Reagan, never went away. Beneath the current battle between populism and its elite critics, the undercurrents of class, imperialism and anti-imperialism are as strong as ever. And even millionaire musicians are pulled one way or the other.
In an interview with RT, in St. Petersburg, Roger Waters summed up in one word the culture of Che Guevara (the anti-imperialist culture) which he is perpetuating. That word is “empathy”. The ability to connect with another’s pain or suffering. And the will to fight to end this pain or suffering, basically sums up the attitude of Che and the “1960s”.
This attempt to understand the weak or vulnerable “other” motivates Waters’ support of the Palestinians today. In fact, “empathy” forces him to open up to Russia. In his RT interview, he tells us that during his concerts–in response to the anti-Russian psy-ops which distorts the West today–he asks his audience: “do you know that Russia sacrificed twenty million of its people, so that you can be free of Nazism?”
Bono doesn’t ask this question. Instead, during his current live shows, he wraps himself up in the flag of power. And shamelessly declares his love of the Empire that’s attacking Russia, with sanctions and up close coups, and war games. The flag is that of the European Union. And the Empire is the iron fist that hides behind that flag: NATO.
Unlike Waters–who wants to connect with the biggest open prison in the world: Gaza–Bono goes out of his way to connect with the corporatist project that is the EU. Forget the weak and vulnerable, within the EU, being bombed by austerity, and being dragged into war after war – Bono’s main concern is defending the flag of the super state.
In a Europe dominated by corporations and their lobbyists: Bono’s words and actions are those of an ultra elitist. Listen to his EU-speak: ‘Well, U2 is kicking off its tour in Berlin this week, and we’ve just had one of our more provocative ideas: during the show we’re going to wave a big, bright, blue EU flag…..to some of us it has become a radical act.’
Bono ends this piece in a German newspaper with the usual delusion: ‘I feel privileged to have witnessed the longest stretch of peace and prosperity ever on the European continent.’
The fact that the EU itself has ended whatever “peace and prosperity” there was in Europe, completely undermines Bono’s sinister “blindness”. By imposing neoliberalism, bailouts, austerity and NATO’s wars (Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Russia) upon Europe, the EU has delegitimized itself. Is it therefore right for Bono to defend this state of affairs, or is it radically right wing?
In his interview with RT, Roger Waters says that there’s always a right and a wrong thing to do. In the context of Palestine, the boycott of Israel is the right thing to do. It is so because the boycott stands on the shoulders of history. Waters points to the 1948 declaration of universal human rights–which itself rests on every slave revolt in the past. Anything which aids this trajectory of humanity is righteousness for itself.
There’s no greater slave revolt today, than that of the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation. In fact it’s the lynchpin to the struggle for global justice. Today’s great crime against humanity is Western warmongering in the Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen). And the basis for this is the Western war against Palestine, which began in 1917. In short, the Western Empire today revolves around the repression of Palestine.
This, of course, means that Israel is not alone. Without the support of the USA and EU, Israel wouldn’t last a day. Israel works for the West. Therefore, to boycott Israel is to boycott the West and its reign of terror. This is were Bono comes in. His concern is not Africa but Western weakness. And his job is to prop it up.
Bono correctly discerns the weakness of the EU today. The European people are actually boycotting it. Their votes are saying no to the idea of ‘the EU über alles’. They don’t want another Roman Empire, another Charlemagne, another Holy Roman Empire, another Pax Romana in the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed, they don’t want another Third Reich. They don’t want to make Europe Great Again. But Bono does.
And Roger Waters doesn’t. He places humanity before the West. And is willing to abandon the West in order to achieve a better world. His music, therefore, is a universal act of resistance, whereas Bono’s is a provincial act of imperialism. By holding up the flag of the EU, Bono is flying the flag of Israel and burning the flag of Palestine. In the language of Waters then: Bono is a Pig.
We, on the other hand, who boycott Israel and the EU are human. We’re children of the 60s. We’re sticks of dynamite in the Wall.