“Hillary Clinton is a Threat to Peace and Justice throughout the World”

My interview with Mohsen Abdelmoumen of May 15, 2015

http://whatsupic.com/special-usa/robert-fantina425764.html

https://mohsenabdelmoumen.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/robert-fantina-hillary-clinton-is-a-threat-to-peace-and-justice-throughout-the-world/

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Mohsen Abdelmoumen: There was Ferguson, and then Baltimore; the United States live almost daily riots. What is your analysis of these scenes of chaos in the US?

Robert Fantina: Ferguson and Baltimore are just two of the many episodes in the United States where white police officers have killed unarmed black men, usually with complete impunity. This is a continuation of a long, unjust and very ugly tradition within the country. Generations ago, blacks were lynched (hung) in the southern part of the U.S. for no other reason than for being black. These lynchings were attended by large crowds who seemed to see these murders as entertainment. No one was ever convicted for any of these horrendous crimes.

Today it is rare for a police officer to be charged with any crime when killing an unarmed black person, and even more rare for such an officer to be convicted. Several police officers have been indicted in Baltimore, which is extremely unusual, not only for the indictments themselves, but also for the speed in which those indictments were made.

It must be remembered that many U.S. police departments, including some within Ferguson, receive training from the Israeli military, which is one of the most inhuman, brutal military systems in the world. Additionally, the Pentagon provides military equipment to many municipalities in the U.S. for their police departments. This militarization of the police cannot be seen as a method to prevent or solve crimes; it is all part of blatant, and mainly successful, efforts on the part of the U.S. government to stifle dissent, intimate the poor, and maintain the continued oppression of the poor for the benefit of the wealthy.

In front of return of the racist crimes which take us back into the bloody history of the United States, what is your assessment of the first American black president who condones crimes against the American black population?

As the election of 2008 approached, throughout the United States there was excessive and unwarranted optimism about the changes that might be ushered in by the nation’s first black president. Hearing the eloquent rhetoric of then-Senator Obama, many people seemed to see him as the new American savior. People forget that, in order to be elected to any but local municipal offices in the United States, there are countless special-interest groups that must be satisfied. They will donate vast amounts of money, and provide endless volunteers, but they are not doing this for the good of the common man and woman; they have certain specific goals, and they expect that by providing resources for a candidate, that candidate, when elected, will provide it with the expected benefits.

Mr. Obama is no different in needing that support, and being willing to pay his corporate owners appropriately from the Oval Office. He cannot restrict police departments without risking the anger of the military industry, or of any corporate group that relies on cheap labor to produce its good and services.

 According to our information, you left the United States to settle near Toronto in Canada following the reelection of George W. Bush and the neocons’ comeback in the US administration. Can you enlighten us about that?

In 2000, in the presidential election in which the major candidates were Republican George Bush and Democrat Al Gore, Mr. Gore won the majority vote. However, due to bizarre provisions in the U.S. electoral system, the Supreme Court appointed Mr. Bush president. Four years later, when Mr. Bush ran for re-election against Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, I did not expect the president to be successful. There were known voting irregularities in 2000 in Florida, and others in Ohio in 2004, but regardless, Mr. Bush was apparently voted in for a second term. I had worked as a volunteer for Mr. Kerry in Florida, and decided then that I could no longer live in the U.S.

I must mention here that while I saw Mr. Kerry as far better than Mr. Bush, I did not expect great statesmanship from him. Since he has been the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Kerry has done nothing but disappoint, especially in his unfair, unjust and unreasonable support for Israel at the expense of the basic human rights of the Palestinians.

Immediately following that election, I began seeking employment in Canada, and moved there in June of 2005, as soon as I found suitable employment. I lived in the western part of the country for almost three years, and moved to the Toronto area in 2008. In November of 2014, I became a Canadian citizen. I still have U.S. citizenship, and will keep it to expedite travel to the U.S., where I still have extended family.

 The United States continues to play a murky role in the Middle East, first by supporting Saudi Arabia in its infamous war against Yemen, on the other hand getting closer to Iran. What do you think of this balancing act of the USA that juggle between the two major powers in the region, one representing Sunni Islam and the other Shiite Islam?

The U.S.’s goal is to continue its world economic domination, and to achieve that it will support any nation that it sees as strategically advantageous, and oppose any that get in its way. Additionally, the importance of lobby groups to U.S. elected officials cannot be overstated. The American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a major tool of the brutal Israeli regime, and one that holds tremendous influence over most U.S. government officials. It is rare for the U.S. to defy it, although it is doing so in Iran, despite the rhetoric of government officials, even those negotiating with that nation remaining hostile in regard to Iran.

U.S. support or opposition for any regime cannot be seen as either agreement or disagreement with the philosophy of that government. The U.S. will, has and does support the most brutal, repressive regimes if those countries’ leaders do as the U.S. instructs. The U.S. government has no interested in supporting or opposing Sunni Islam or Shiite Islam; it looks at where its economic goals are, determines which countries will support those goals, and then provides support accordingly. There is no limit to the barbaric civil rights violations that the U.S. supports, if those perpetrating them follow U.S. economic instructions.

What is the weight of the Zionist lobby, headed by AIPAC, in the designation of the US president, knowing that supports Hillary Clinton?

As I mentioned before, AIPAC is a very powerful lobby in the U.S., and Mrs. Clinton speaks of Israel in the most positive and affectionate of terms. AIPAC will not need to use its considerable influence to elect Mrs. Clinton, because it won’t matter to AIPAC or Israel who wins the election, since each current candidate, Democratic and Republican, worships at the AIPAC altar.

But it’s interesting to note how AIPAC’s influence is felt. Mrs. Clinton, during last summer’s genocidal attack on Palestine by Israel, echoed the standard government words about Israel’s right to defend itself. There are numerous things wrong with this statement:

1) It is illogical to think of an occupying nation ‘defending’ itself from its victim; all it can do is further oppress the victim nation.

2) Israel has the fourth most powerful military system in the world, backed and completely financed by the most powerful. Palestine has no army, no navy and no air force.

3) So-called rocket fire from the Gaza Strip consists of what Dr. Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors and a strong advocate for Palestinian rights, calls ‘enhanced fireworks’. Another journalist said that those rockets could be made with an eighth grade chemistry set. Israel, on the other hand, has the most advanced and deadly weaponry in the world, some if it illegal under international law, all provided by the U.S. Also, during the 51-day slaughter by Israel of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Israel fired more rockets into Gaza than Gaza had fired into Israel in the previous fourteen years.

4) International law states that an occupied nation has the right to resist the occupation.

5) During the 2014 onslaught, Israel bombed schools, mosques, United Nations refugee centers, press vehicles, hospitals and private residences, all in violation of international law.

Mrs. Clinton didn’t consider any of these factors when she blindly defended Israel.

For the first time, we see the US elections without any suspense. Democratic side, Clinton has any competition, and in Republican side, they have difficulty to nominate a candidate. Don’t you think that the games are already made and Hillary Clinton is already president of the United States? The USA can they afford a president who has failed in her mission of Secretary of State by losing her ambassador in Benghazi by negligence?

It is true that there does not seem to be much suspense regarding the next presidential election. Mrs. Clinton has access to vast amounts of money, much of which will obligate her to the wealthy corporations that donate it, and greater name recognition than anyone else who might enter the race. The Republican candidates that have either announced their candidacy, or are expected to do so, all impress the extreme right wing of that party, but really have no chance of being elected in a national election.

The situation in Benghazi, and any responsibility Mrs. Clinton may have for it, is still unclear. However, there are many reasons why the U.S. cannot afford a Hillary Clinton presidency. Her obligations to the wealthy and the military industry; her past actions on foreign affairs, including her vote to authorize the disastrous, immoral and illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq; her statement in 2008 about ‘obliterating’ Iran; her blindness to international law in the context of Israel and Palestine, all make her, as a potential president, a threat to peace and justice throughout the world.

 Are you informed that Mrs. Clinton received bribes (money, villa) from the King of Morocco who lobbied her to get her support in its colonialist policy against the people of Western Sahara? Do you think the American public knows the problem of Western Sahara and the support of Hillary Clinton to the king of Morocco in its settlement policy of the territory of Western Sahara? Is it normal that a pretender for the US presidency receive money from another country, in this case the Kingdom of Morocco?

Sadly, this is business as usual in the United States. If the country ever was a democracy, and I doubt that that was ever actually the case, it has long since ceased to be so, and is now definitely an oligarchy. The Clinton foundation’s acceptance of the $1 million donation that you refer to is just one way that the rich control the country. The donation by the office Cherifien des Phosphates is just one of the many foreign businesses or governments that have supported Mrs. Clinton, and will continue to do so.

Neither Mrs. Clinton nor her millions of devoted fans care about the exploitation of the Western Sahara. Most of the U.S. public is probably unaware of this; unfortunately, telling them wouldn’t make a difference. The crimes that the U.S. has committed internationally for generations are hidden, but can be clearly located with minimal research. Yet the government public relations activities are sufficiently successful that the citizenry is happy to accept whatever it is told.

The U.S. citizenry made history in 2008 when it elected a black president, and seems eager to follow that up with the election of the first woman president. There does not seem to be a close scrutiny of her past actions, or her current policy pronouncements.

Israel continues its policy of colonization and extermination openly before the world. Its criminal leaders aren’t worried by any international tribunal, while we see judgments of African leaders and other. These courts, like the ICC, represent they a two-speed justice, and what is the role of the UN and its bodies, unable to give to the Palestinians their most basic rights?

The United Nations is powerless against the United States; the U.S. has shown that it isn’t interested in international law, and that it considers itself the lawmaker, judge, jury and executioner in all circumstances.

The U.S. is the only country that could influence Israel to end the occupation and blockade; after all, the U.S. gives Israel over $3.8 billion in aid every year. Simply by making that aid conditional on adherence to international law would resolve most of the problems. But it is not reasonable to expect one corrupt, lawless regime (the United States) to require changes in another corrupt, lawless regime (Israel).

Yet there are some positive signs. Social media is doing what the corporate-owned media, especially in the U.S., refuses to do, and this is exposing the horrors committed on a daily basis by Israel. Also, as the Israeli government becomes more radical, it is increasingly isolated in the world community. A strong indicator of this is the fact that, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there would never be an independent Palestine while he was Prime Minister, U.S. President Obama indicated that the U.S. would need to re-evaluate its relationship with Israel. Any criticism of Israel from the U.S. is extremely rare.

The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement has grown in strength over the years, and that is taking a toll on Israel, as more and more entertainers are refusing to appear in Israel, academics are refusing to participate in joint educational ventures, and companies will not do business with Israeli companies operating in the occupied West Bank. The U.S. is currently attempting to outlaw the BDS movement, but it is unlikely that any laws attempting to do so would be upheld under a court challenge.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is now investigating Israel for possible war crimes committed during the bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. Its findings will not impact Israel directly, since Israel, like the U.S., refused to accept the jurisdiction of the court and never joined it. However, condemnation by the ICC would be a public relations disaster for Israel, which can ill afford any more problems with its very battered image.

Can you tell us if you have new book projects?

I am currently working on a book about growing up under the cruel, savage Israeli occupation. Through Facebook I am in contact with several young people in Palestine, in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These are people who were born under the occupation, and have lived their entire lives under it. They have known multiple bombings, deprivation, hunger, thirst, terror, gross injustice and untold suffering. They have seen family members, friends and other loved ones die at the hands of Israeli terrorists, with no justice for the innocent victims. They have had homes destroyed repeatedly.

Yet they have a resilience that is almost unfathomable. They continue to work and hope for peace and justice, even in the face of astounding violence and injustice. Their stories are both heartbreaking and inspirational.

I expect the book to be completed by the end of this year, and hopefully available by the end of 2016, or early 2017.

 

 

 

Israeli Missteps Take a Toll

Published on Counterpunch on July 31, 2015

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/31/israeli-missteps-take-a-toll/

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How the mighty have fallen! Was it really such a short time ago that Israel could demand that the United States jump, and the U.S.’s immediate response was ‘how high’? Was it in just the last year, that whatever Israel wanted from the U.S., all it had to do was hint at it, and the desired prize, whatever it was, would be immediately delivered? From vetoes in the United Nations, to bombs to kill Palestinians, to lies about Israeli security risks, to defending genocide, if Israel wanted it, the U.S. delivered it.

During the 2014 bombardment and invasion of Palestine, some small, barely discernable cracks were seen in the universal, unquestioned support that the U.S. gave Israel, despite its flouting of international law, and its constant, atrocious human rights abuses. The U.S. timidly suggested that perhaps Israel shouldn’t bomb United Nations refugee centers, but said nothing about the bombing of residences, schools, mosques, hospitals and press buildings. And, of course, it financed all that carnage.

Now, after months of diplomatic efforts, the U.S. and five other nations have reached an agreement with Iran regarding that nation’s nuclear ambitions. This agreement will not only reduce sanctions on Iran, sanctions that hurt the populace but have little or no impact on the government, but will also go a long way to prevent war. It would seem that this is a good thing; the U.S. is almost always involved in a war, and one would think that the citizenry has grown tired of it by now.

But this agreement is not sitting well in Tel Aviv. Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu is seriously displeased, and his minions in Congress are paying attention. It is said that Jewish members of Congress, some of them holding dual citizenship, U.S. and Israeli, are being fantinadiligently courted by the various Israeli lobbies to vote against the agreement. Some pundits are commenting darkly about divided loyalties, but this writer sees no conflict: Congress members’ loyalties are, first and foremost, to whomever writes checks to their re-election campaigns, and the Israeli lobbies have deep pockets. So their goal now is to purchase sufficient votes to override a presidential veto, should the agreement be voted down in Congress.

But it is an uphill battle. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who relied on those donations during his many terms in the senate, and did as he was told in that role, garnering a 100% voting record for Israel, has begun to push back. In a talk in New York City on July 24, he said this about the agreement with Iran: “I believe Israel is safer, I believe the region is safer.” Yet he also issued a veiled warning to Israel. He further said that, if Congress defeats the agreement, “friends in Israel could end up being more isolated and more blamed.”

This warning from the U.S. comes at a critical time for Israel, and is certainly an unwelcome development. Israel and its various international lackeys are making a concerted effort to counter the increasing boycott, and resulting isolation, of that country. The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement is ever growing, and taking both a financial and emotional toll on Israel; more and more people around the world are recognizing it as an apartheid regime, committing abominable human rights abuses and spitting in the face of international law. And they are asking why it is that this is allowed, a question not spoken for decades.

So what is it that the Israeli Prime Murderer is so concerned about? For him, it’s the usual argument: anything Israel doesn’t like is an ‘existential’ threat to that rogue nation. So if Iran has a nuclear program, Israel is threatened. If anyone dares suggest that the blockade of the Gaza Strip be ended, Israel is threatened. If the International Criminal Court investigates ‘possible’ Israeli war crimes, Israel is threatened. For pity’s sake, if the international soccer association questions Israel’s behavior, Israel is threatened!

Israel previously had two methods of dealing with all these ‘threats’: 1) it could tell the U.S. to take care of them, or 2) it could drop U.S. bombs somewhere. Now, unfortunately for Israel, option 1 seems to be off the table. This is a two-edged sword: it’s certainly good news that the U.S. is doing some minor re-evaluation of its support for Israel, but it does open the door to more bombing by Israel. Iran must beware; Israel wants to be the only nuclear-armed country in the region.

So what if Israel decides to bomb Iran? In May of this year, an aide to the leader of Iran said that Hezbollah in Lebanon has some 80,000 rockets aimed toward Israel, to be used in the event that Israel attacks Iran. So, while the U.S. is uncharacteristically working to prevent a war, Israel is using the typical U.S. saber-rattling to imply that Iran may soon be its next victim.

Just for the fun of it, let’s consider how such an event would play out. The U.S. Congress is unsuccessful in overriding a presidential veto of its rejection of the Iran nuclear agreement. Israel, confident that its very existence is in danger (Mr. Netanyahu says so, and one must remember his oh-so-accurate prediction to the U.S. Congress in 2002 of what a boon to peace in the Middle East a U.S. invasion of Iraq would be), bombs Iran. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that he really wishes Israel hadn’t done that, but that the U.S. will continue to send it all the weaponry it wants. Hezbollah starts shooting some of those 80,000 missiles into Israel, destroying Tel Aviv and other cities, as Iran, defending itself from Israeli bombs, also shoots rockets into Israel. Israel drops nuclear bombs on Iran and Lebanon, killing millions of people and rendering much of the Middle East a wasteland. Mr. Kerry says that Israel has a right to defend itself. The United Nations Security Council issues resolutions condemning Israel for the initial attack on Iran, and the subsequent nuclear bombing of Iran and Lebanon. The U.S. vetoes both resolutions. Russia, China, all the countries in the European Union and South America severe ties with Israel, causing an economic crisis. Mr. Netanyahu demands additional aid from the U.S., to deal with the failing economy, which the U.S. provides, as its own cities continue to decay. Unemployment in the U.S. skyrockets, with only those states with weapons manufacturing still employing many citizens.

Where it all goes from there is anyone’s nightmarish guess.

Now let’s look at the alternative. Congress, doing Mr. Netanyahu’s bidding, overrides the presidential veto, and voids the agreement. All other nations dealing with the U.S. now know that U.S. diplomatic agreements are not worth pursuing. Iran continues to develop its nuclear power program. Mr. Netanyahu declares that he was right all along, sees yet another ‘existential threat’ and bombs Iran. For what happens next, please see above.

One might hope this to be all fantasy, but one must not dismiss it out of hand. The U.S. is currently negotiating with Israel to increase the amount of aid it receives, in payment for the U.S. displeasing Israel with the Iran deal. Israel, of course, will be in no way constrained. If it chooses to bomb Iran, it will, and the U.S. will do nothing to stop it. U.S government officials will proclaim that Israel has a right to defend itself. After all, if ineffectual ‘rockets’ shot into Israel from the Gaza Strip constitute a threat to the very existence of Israel, certainly Iran’s desire for nuclear power is also such a threat, at least to those in U.S. governance who are bought and paid for by the Israeli lobby.

The multitudes currently vying for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations fall all over themselves to be the first to kiss the backside of the various Israeli lobbies, AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee) being chief among them. And none of them have the same level of animosity toward the Israeli Prime Murderer that President Obama seems to have, so while he is willing to dole out U.S. largesse unrestrained, one can only imagine what his successor will do.

Of course, Israeli continued missteps will keep taking a toll. Because of the carpet-bombing of the Gaza Strip last summer; Mr. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in March; continued illegal settlement building; proclaiming that there will never be a free and independent Palestine as long as Mr. Netanyahu is Prime Murderer, people are beginning to be fed up. While this hasn’t yet translated into Congressional action, it is only a matter of time before it does. The clock is ticking, and for Israel to become a respected part of the international community, time is running out.

Israel’s Siege On Gaza Is Worse Than You Think

Printed by MintPress on July 22, 2015.

http://www.mintpressnews.com/israels-siege-on-gaza-is-worse-than-you-think/207815/

When Israel violated international law by boarding and ‘redirecting’ foreign ships in international waters, ships that were going to the Gaza Strip, Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy spokesman Oren Rozenblat made this amazing statement: “In Gaza there is no humanitarian crisis whatsoever. I can say it very clearly, and there is no siege of Gaza and we have hundreds of truckloads of goods coming to Gaza every day.”

One is constantly amazed at the rhetoric that spews forth from the mouths of apartheid Israel’s various spokespeople. In these two sentences, Mr. Rozenblat declares that there is no humanitarian crises in Gaza, and there is no siege.

Perhaps it would be helpful and illustrative to talk, not just to those ensconced in Israel’s ivory towers, but to those living in the Gaza Strip, to see if there is, indeed, a humanitarian crises caused by the siege, both of which Mr. Rozenblat says don’t exist.

In some ways, seventeen-year-old Ameer (all surnames have been removed to protect the identities of the people interviewed for this article) of Gaza isn’t all that different from his North American counterparts. He lives with his parents and siblings, and has a love for Parkour, a relatively new sport that involves efficient movement, using only the human body and momentum, to get from one point to another. He would like to join with like-minded youths in Egypt or the West Bank for further practice and performance, but is unable to do so; Israel does not allow him to leave the Gaza Strip.  A simple thing like purchasing shoes specifically designed for Parkour is impossible, because they are not allowed to be imported to the Gaza Strip. Also, in the past, Ameer and his friends would sometimes exercise, and practice Parkour moves in a local gymnasium. That gym, unfortunately, was bombed by Israel in the summer of 2014, and because of the non-existent siege, no materials have been imported so it could be rebuilt.

Due to the siege which Mr. Rozenblat denies, the Gaza Strip has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Ameer’s family is unable to obtain much beyond the basic necessities of life, because he and his parents cannot find employment. Medical care is rare and very expensive; during the summer of 2014, Israel bombed hospitals, in violation of international law, decreasing the supply of medical resources while simultaneously increasing the demand. And with unemployment so high, few people can afford the luxury of health care.

Ahmed, also of Gaza, has other concerns. At 22, he is the oldest of six children, the next being a child of only 10. So it falls to Mr. Shurrab and his father to support the family, and with both of them unemployed, and job opportunities scarce because of the siege that Mr. Rozenblat denies exists, they are in desperate circumstances. Such luxuries as fresh vegetables are beyond his family’s reach, and there is only so much that any article of clothing can be mended before it must be replaced. But funds for purchasing clothes, and clothing availability, are both scarce due to heavy restrictions on imports.

Mohammed, also 22, advised this writer that his father was told four years ago that he needs surgery. The nearest place this particular procedure is performed is in Jordan, but his father is forbidden by Israel from leaving the Gaza Strip. So he has lived with debilitating pain all this time.

Additionally, should Mohammed have the funds to order some product that Israel actually allows into the country, he would probably be unable to pay the triple tax on it: one to Hamas, one to Fatah, and one to Israel.

Medicines are in scarce supply. Hassan 19, broke his arm playing football with some friends. He must be in a cast for a month, which is certainly inconvenient for an active young man, but what is worse is that he is unable to obtain any pain-killers; they are not allowed into the Gaza Strip. So he lives with extreme, constant pain while his arm heals.

So if harsh restrictions on movement, common imports including food, and basic medical supplies doesn’t constitute a siege, this writer does not know what does. Let us look now at Mr. Rozenblat’s remarkable statement denying a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

In March of this year, Palestinian Water Authority Minister Mazen Ghoneim said that “The biggest water catastrophe on earth is in the Gaza Strip, as 97% of the coastal aquifer water is unfit for human use because of seawater intrusion and leakage of sewage water into it.” Because of this, people in the Gaza Strip rely on wells. However, since Israel is over-pumping the groundwater in order to fill the swimming pools of Israelis living illegally in the West Bank, these wells are being infiltrated by salt water from the sea. In fifteen years, there will be no drinkable water in the Gaza Strip.

Food insecurity is defined by the United Stated Department of Agricutlure as of “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways”. In the Gaza Strip in 2014, a whopping 57% of the population was food insecure. This has only worsened following Israel’s genocidal onslaught during the summer of that year.

This food insecurity is not coincidental; it is planned and orchestrated by Israel. In response to Hamas election victory in Gaza in 2006, the blockade of Gaza was planned. A senior Israeli official said this: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” In order to accomplish this, Israel health officials determined the number of calories that were required by the then 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip. Food shipped from Israel, the only source of food in Gaza, was adjusted to ensure that this amount of calories was not exceeded.

During Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in 2014, over 2,000 housing units were completely destroyed, and nearly 16,000 damaged. Tens of thousands remain homeless today, living in tents, with family or friends, or in the ruins of buildings that still stand.

So in light of these facts, let us revisit Mr. Rozenblat’s most remarkable statement: “In Gaza there is no humanitarian crisis whatsoever. I can say it very clearly, and there is no siege of Gaza and we have hundreds of truckloads of goods coming to Gaza every day.”

One wonders what, in Mr. Rozenblat’s twisted mind, would constitute a humanitarian crisis, or a siege. It seems that no reasonable argument could be made against a claim that a population of 1.8 million, with tens of thousands homeless, more than half of them food insecure, and unemployment at over 40% is experiencing a humanitarian crisis. Nor could one be expected to believe that that same population, blockaded by land, sea and air, forbidden life-saving medical supplies, prevented from leaving the heavily-populated area, and unable to import the basic necessities of life is not under siege.

Printed by MintPress on July 22, 2015.

http://www.mintpressnews.com/israels-siege-on-gaza-is-worse-than-you-think/207815/

 

 

Palestine, Israel and the Sea

There has long been controversy about Palestinian territorial waters. This issue was raised last year, during Israel’s genocidal assault on the Gaza Strip, wherein part of the so-called ‘cease-fire’ agreement included that Israel would respect international law relating to the sea. Now the issue is once again an area of international focus.

Within the next several days, the ‘Gaza Flotilla’, a group of at least three international ships, will attempt to breach the illegal blockade of the beleaguered Gaza Strip, and dock in Gaza. When this was last attempted, Israeli soldier-terrorists killed ten defenseless, unarmed people, causing international tensions between Gaza and Turkey, home to several of the victims.

As the Flotilla approaches Gaza, it is important to remember that the blockade of the Gaza Strip is illegal under international law. Yet this does not prevent Israel from condemning the Flotilla as if it, and not Israel, was the law-breaker.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who has called for the complete annihilation of Palestine and Palestinians, said that the foreign ministry will prevent the Flotilla from reaching ‘Israel’s territorial waters’.

Perhaps Ms. Hotovely would benefit from a geography lesson, combined with one in international law.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states, in part, the following:

Each country’s sovereign territorial waters extend to a maximum of 12 nautical miles (22 km) beyond its coast.  Foreign vessels are granted the right of innocent passage through this zone.

The members of the Gaza Flotilla have no intention of, or interest in, approaching Israel’s territorial waters. The coastal state to which it is sailing is Palestine, not Israel. So any discussion of Israel’s ‘territorial waters’ is irrelevant in a discussion of the Flotilla; the foreign ministry of Israel has no legal authority over the coastal waters of Palestine.

Additionally, Palestine’s ‘sovereign territorial waters’, like those of every other coastal nation on the planet, extend 12 nautical miles off its coast. As a sovereign nation, Palestine is free to accept or reject any ship it so chooses, without interference from any other nation.

It is unlikely that the Gaza Flotilla will successfully enter Palestine’s territorial waters; Israel will attack the unarmed vessel before it gets even close. One hopes the loss of innocent life will be minimized, but when dealing with one of the most brutal and inhuman regimes in the world, one has little reason for optimism.

Basel Ghattas, a member of the Israeli parliament with the Joint Arab List, has now caused much consternation in Israel by announcing that he would be on one of the Flotilla’s ships. In a letter to Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu, he explained the purpose of the Flotilla: “,,,to end the siege by way of turning international attention to the situation of 1.8 million Palestinians living in disgraceful, prison-like conditions as a result of Israel’s military siege of both land and sea….” Mindful of the brutal response to the previous Flotilla, he concluded his letter thusly: “Taking over the ships and preventing them from arriving at their destination will entangle Israel in another difficult international crisis, the outcome of which will be the responsibility of you and your government.”

So, let us summarize a few salient points: 1) The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is illegal under international law; 2) A foreign nation has no right to regulate what ships enter or leave a foreign port not under its jurisdiction; 3) Any other nation so blatantly violating international law would be censured by the United Nations.

What does all this mean for Israel? For one thing, any attempt to stop the Gaza Flotilla from reaching Gaza will be a violation of international law.

Additionally, it shows that apartheid Israel violates international law each time its terrorists harass Palestinian fishermen fishing within that internationally-recognized territorial limit. IDF soldiers (Israeli Defense Forces, also known as terrorists), routinely shoot and kill fisherman and ‘confiscate’ their boats. For those fishermen lucky enough to escape with their lives, they lose their livelihood, becoming unable to support themselves and their families.

Can we, for a moment, gaze into our crystal ball and see the near future? As stated, in all likelihood Israel will violently prevent the Flotilla from reaching Palestine. The U.N. will say nothing of this. Any criticisms leveled against Israel will be denounced by the U.S. which will summon the holy mantra of the myth of Israel defending its national security. There will, however, be no mention of Palestine’s national security.

So will it be business as usual? The crystal ball is a bit foggy on this point, but indications are that Mr. Ghattas’s closing comment to Mr. Netanyahu will prove to be right on the mark. Few people outside of Israel and the disgraceful halls of the U.S. Congress will see a few unarmed boats sailing towards Palestine as anything but benign. As Israel screams that everyone around the world is trying to ‘delegitimize’ it, it will not recognize that it needs no one else to do so; it is doing a fine job of that all on its own.

So another attempt to hold Israel accountable for its atrocities will be thwarted, but at what price? All indications are that most of global society has had it up to here with Israel, and eventually the final straw will be applied, breaking the apartheid camel’s back. When that happens, not even Israel’s best friend and main financier, the United States, will be able to save it from itself.

First published in Counterpunch, June 26 – 28.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/06/26/palestine-israel-and-the-sea/

 

Netanyahu: The Fantasy Grows

Early this month, Stephane Richards, the chairman of the telecommunications company Orange, announced that his company would cease its brand-licensing agreement with the Israeli company, Partner. At the time, he said this: “Our intention is to withdraw from Israel. It will take time. For sure we will do it… I am ready to do this tomorrow morning… but without exposing Orange to huge risks.”

Needless to say, this caused a major uproar in Israel, where the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement, along with international businesses being cautioned by their governments about doing business with Israeli companies illegally located in the occupied West Bank, is causing major concern. Even Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken of this issue, calling the international boycott of Israel as bad as the Holocaust.

Following Mr. Richards’ announcement, his personal information was posted online by an Israeli hacker and militant Zionist, and Mr. Richards and those close to him received numerous death threats, and hundreds of menacing calls. Mr. Richards has filed suit against ‘persons unknown’ as a result.

Prior to the announcement of his lawsuit, but following the start of the harassment, Mr. Richards groveled before Mr. Netanyahu, saying he would never support a boycott of Israel. One finds the flow of events interesting: 1) Orange announces it will cease its partnership with an Israeli company; 2) Mr. Richards’ personal information is posted to a Zionist website; 3) Mr. Richards and those close to him receive hundreds of threatening calls; 4) Mr. Richards demeans himself before the Israeli Prime Murderer, ‘explaining’ that he never meant to support a boycott of Israel.

The meeting with Mr. Netanyahu was itself noteworthy. During that meeting, the Prime Murderer made these astounding statements: “Israel is the one country in the Middle East that guarantees full civic rights. It’s the one county in the Middle East where everyone is protected under the law equally. We seek a genuine and secure peace with our Palestinian neighbors….”

Let us break that remarkable statement down to its component parts, and see if we can possibly make any sense of it.

* “Israel is the one country in the Middle East that guarantees full civic rights.” This is most puzzling in view of many laws, but we will look at just two for the moment. In 2011, a law was passed that empowers hundreds of local Jewish communities to exclude applicants based on ethnicity or religion. It was upheld by the Supreme Court in September 2014.

Another law passed in 2011 seems to belie Mr. Netanyahu’s words. This law prohibits “anyone from calling for a boycott of Israel, its institutions, or any person because of their affiliation with Israel, including the settlements in the occupied territories.” So much for ‘full civic rights’. [1]

* “It’s the one county in the Middle East where everyone is protected under the law equally.”

A 1950 Law of Return stipulates that every Jewish person can immigrate to Israel. This “extends to the children and grandchildren of Jews, as well as their spouses, and the spouses of their children and grandchildren. The flip side of this is that the rights of Palestinians and others to enter the state and become citizens, even if they were born in the area that is now the State of Israel, are extremely restrictive.” [2]

The ‘ban on family unification’ law of 2003 prohibits citizens of Israel from reuniting with Palestinian spouses living in the West Bank or Gaza. There is a law that bans any political party that denies the existence of Israel as a “Jewish” state. Other laws establish separate educational systems which are then unequally administered. [3]

* “We seek a genuine and secure peace with our Palestinian neighbors.” As amazing as Mr. Netanyahu’s other statements may be, this one is the most astounding of all. During his campaign for re-election earlier this year, he said that there would never be an independent Palestine while he was prime minister. He has accelerated land theft in the West Bank and the expansion of settlements, which are illegal under international law and condemned around the world. Newly-appointed Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, responsible for ‘administering’ the occupied territories, said this in 2013: “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.” The new Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, called Palestinian children ‘little snakes’. She further said that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and called for the complete destruction of Palestine, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” [4]

Additionally, Mr. Netanyahu says that peace will only come about through negotiations, and demands a completely demilitarized Palestine. This writer hesitates to point out once again that negotiations can only take place between two parties when each has something the other wants, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes what it wants from Palestine with complete impunity, so negotiations cannot occur. Also, such ‘negotiations’ would be akin to a bank negotiating with a bank robber for the return of some of its money, with the police sponsoring the meetings. It makes no logical sense.

Further, Israel has one of the world’s most powerful military systems, provided by the United States. Why should a country adjacent to it, who has experienced decades-long violence from Israel, not be allowed to protect itself? Again, the idea of reason and logic is completely lacking.

Recent polling indicates that about two-thirds of Israelis feel that the world is against them. How long they have held that belief is unknown, but it is possible that today it is accurate. People around the world see the brutal, unspeakable oppression of the Palestinians, and actively oppose it, often by the boycotts that Mr. Netanyahu so despises.

But what is Israel’s response? If reason and logic were to apply, Israel would adhere to international law, remove its half-million-plus illegal settlers and all its terrorists (generally referred to by Israel as soldiers), end the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and recognize the nation of Palestine. But no, reality and Israel are only marginally acquainted, and their relationship is none too good. So instead, Israel does more of the same: flout international law, increase settlement construction, terrorize and oppress Palestinians, and basically flip the bird to the world.

There is an old cliché that says that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, but expecting a different result. Based on this, Israel is an insane society.

But it has its international devotees, mainly in the U.S., where AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee) funnels large sums of money into the campaign coffers of those politicians who do its bloody bidding. But it does appear that much of the rest of the world has grown tired of Israel’s murder of men, women and children; its bombing of hospitals, mosques and United Nations refugee centers; its brutal blockade of the Gaza Strip; the numerous internal checkpoints in the West Bank, the sole purpose of which is to demoralize the population, and the arrests and incarceration without charge of Palestinians, including children. The United States is happy to finance all this, as long as AIPAC continues its role of campaign benefactor. But increasingly, the U.S. is the outlier, the one other nation, along with Israel, that is blind to Israeli genocide.

The insanity may run deep, but it is not contagious. Around the world, people are demanding human rights for the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu’s nonsensical rantings, and the funding of the United States, will not silence them.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

Notes

[1]  See http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/database-discriminatory-israel

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4]  See https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-lawmakers-call-genocide-palestinians-gets-thousands-facebook-likes

 

Published in Counterpunch.org, June 19 – 21, 2015

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/06/19/netanyahu-the-fantasy-grows/

Global Fear-Mongering

World leaders have long known that in order to stay in power, scaring the populace is a vital ingredient in any campaign. Look to the March, 2015 victory of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu, who fanned the fears of his racist population, claiming that ‘Arabs’ were going to the polls in droves. In the United States, for decades whichever candidate was more successful at stoking the flaming fear of communism glided to easy victory. And as Canada and the U.S. approach election season, with Canada’s election five months away, and the long, drawn out campaign for the White House a tortuous eighteen months away, it is now, apparently, time to begin fanning the fears of what is generally called ‘radical Islam’.

A CNN report of May 11 is headlined thusly: ‘Retired Generals: Be Afraid of ISIS’. The article refers to President Barack Obama as “naïve”; discusses “the ever-growing numbers of victims of radical Islam in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia”, and condemns “the frightfully slow pace America’s commander-in-chief is currently allowing our military and intelligence community to take action against both ISIS and its progenitor, al Qaeda….”

It is interesting that people who make their living from war are called upon to comment on whether war should continue or not. The writers of the CNN article are Retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; retired Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, USMC, and congressional counterterrorism adviser Michael S. Smith II. Interestingly, these gentleman are co-founders of a ‘strategic advisory firm’ called Kronos Advisory. A small quotation from their website puts their fear-mongering into perspective:

“Increased global economic competition among rising powers could also exacerbate issues such as these. Indeed, as lucrative opportunities lure companies from nations with limited defense and intelligence resources into ungoverned areas and failed states the potential flashpoints for conflict will multiply.

“To manage increasingly complex international affairs, security officials require more robust decision-support solutions that leverage high-level subject matter expertise and innovative thought leadership in the areas of irregular warfare, geostrategy, and associated policy development. And history tells us human intelligence will be central to any successful programs that seek to advance American and allied interests in this volatile environment.

“From subject matter expertise with transnational extremist networks, to predictive analytic capabilities that can help officials identify and understand future challenges before they materialize, to strong relationships with lawmakers committed to helping defense and intelligence organizations achieve their missions, Kronos Advisory’s global network can deliver a range of vital resources national security managers require to more fully understand their operational environment — and define it.”

And as long as there is war, there can be little doubt that the costly services of Kronos Advisory will be in demand.

While the words from the Kronos Advisory website are self-explanatory, there is one small area that requires particular focus: “relationships with lawmakers committed to helping defense and intelligence organizations achieve their missions”. And now we get to the crux of the matter. Messrs. Flynn, Livingston and Smith all had prominent roles in the government, and now are capitalizing on the ‘strong relationships’ with those members of Congress who rely on the so-called defense industry to fund their campaigns. These members of Congress will keep the war machine working, thus keeping the military lobby happy, providing endless perquisites for the government officials, and keeping businesses such as Kronos Advisory very busy. Where in this is there anything about what’s best for the people?

Let us take just a moment to look at the three ‘frightening’ expressions quoted above. Mr. Obama, these august businessmen say, is naïve. Perhaps he has, naively, not yet sought out their services and expertise, which may have had a lot to do with their motivation for writing for CNN. Secondly, they state with alarm “the ever-growing numbers of victims of radical Islam in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia”, not mentioning that most of those victims die as a result of U.S.-provided bombs. Lastly, they bemoan “the frightfully slow pace America’s commander-in-chief is currently allowing our military and intelligence community to take action against both ISIS and its progenitor, al Qaeda…”, hoping, perhaps, for a wider, more comprehensive war which will require their services to a far greater extent, thus increasing their bottom line, at the expense of the blood of people around the world.

Meanwhile, north of the border, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a short time ago considered vulnerable in this year’s election, said this during a visit to Canadian troops in Kuwait: “Make no mistake: by fighting this enemy here you are protecting Canadians at home. Because this evil knows no borders”. One is reminded of a statement made on September 12, 2008 by then Alaska Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, when bidding an official farewell to soldiers on their way to Iraq. She said that their mission was to “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.” Any connect between Iraq and the September 11 attacks against the U.S. had long since been debunked, but what is this to Mrs. Palin? When the flag can be waved in a patriotic display, what do facts have to do with anything?

The same is true with Mr. Harper’s bizarre statement. The indiscriminate killing of Muslims doesn’t protect ‘Canadians at home’. It has, indeed, the opposite effect. A ‘Tweet’ sent in 2012 by a lawyer in Yemen to Mr. Obama applies as well to Mr. Harper: “Dear Mr. Obama, when a U.S. drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda.” So Canada, continuing to disgrace itself on the world stage, follows along with U.S. mass murder in the Middle East.

But jingoism sells, whether the original, U.S. version, or the copy that has now apparently been successfully exported to Canada. ‘They’ are bad; ‘we’ are good, and the only thing the ‘good’ people can do is kill the ‘bad’ people. Mr. Harper is positioning himself for victory by framing his campaign in the tried and true ‘us vs. them’ model that has long been successful in the U.S. As the U.S. election campaigning ramps up, with more and more clowns entering the two-ring circus known as the Democratic and Republican primaries, we can watch the candidates from both parties fall all over themselves to prove that they want to kill more of the ‘bad’ people, and will do it longer and more effectively, than any of their opponents. No doubt they will be assisted by Kronos Advisory.

What will future generations say? Will they look upon the current world situation as today we might look upon Neanderthal society, observing the way primitive man lived? Will they comment intellectually on the little value that human life had for twenty-first century society, and the way that society worked hard to develop more effective ways to eradicate it? Will they marvel at how close the population came to extinction through war?

This is the legacy we are leaving; this is what our descendants will say about us.

Sadly, with the media corporate-owned, and the U.S. education system only deteriorating, there seems to be little hope for any significant change in the near future.

 

This article was originally published here: https://alethonews.wordpress.com/

 

Hillary: a Disaster in the Making

One longs for a candidate for president of the United States possessing those rare traits of statesmanship, honesty and integrity. One looks back in vain to see such an example, and the near and far horizons offer no such hope, either.

We will take no time looking at the GOP (Generally Opposed to Progress) candidates, either announced or still keeping everyone on the edge of their seats as they ‘decide’ whether or not to toss their hat into the soon-to-be-crowded ring. Most, including Florida Governor and brother of one of the nation’s worst presidents ever, Jeb Bush, and New Jersey Governor, the obnoxious blowhard Chris Christie, have already decided, but enjoy the spectacle of endless conjecture. So they wait.

But on the Democratic side, no less a worthy than Hillary Rodham Clinton, lawyer, former First Lady, former senator, former Secretary of State, has slow-balled her tattered hat into an otherwise empty ring. Her handlers claim, disingenuously, that she expects competition, and a hard-fought primary campaign. Who, one wants to know, is going to take her on? She has a war chest rumored to hold $2.5 billion, more than twice what Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama each spent on their campaigns in 2012; the total is more than their campaign expenditures combined. The only other potential candidate with anything close to her name recognition is Vice President Joe Biden, and it will be impossible for him to generate the puzzling enthusiasm that seems to follow Mrs. Clinton. And there does not appear to be anyone waiting in the wings to grab the spotlight from her, as Mr. Obama did in 2008.

So, while her various aides struggle to avoid any appearance of invincibility, let us all make the assumption that Mrs. Clinton will be the nominee, and work from there. What possible objections can anyone from the moderate to liberal political philosophy spectrum have to her nomination? Well, this writer asks: how much time do you have?
fantina

In the interest of time, let’s just look at a single area; there will be plenty of time to discuss others as the relentless torture session known as a U.S. political campaign drags on.

One of the most horrific oppressions of people currently happening in the world today is being perpetrated by Israel on the people of Palestine. Now, before anyone says that this is a complex, decades-old problem, and Mrs. Clinton can’t be blamed for not solving it, we question these statements, and at the same time object to her worsening of the situation. And, when one looks at her four years as Secretary of State, one can, indeed, blame her for not resolving the situation. Some facts:

* Clinton is beholden to AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee), and takes her disgraceful, self-appointed obligation to that lobby group more seriously than she does human rights. During her stint as Secretary of State, she blocked every effort Palestinians made at the United Nations to achieve recognition; these successful efforts to thwart the self-determination of an oppressed people win the kudos of AIPAC. She has spoken of Israel in almost romantic terms: “Protecting Israel’s future is not simply a question of policy for me, it’s personal,” she said in 2013, discussing various visits she has made to that apartheid land. She regularly worships at the AIPAC altar.

* In 2014, as Israel was using U.S.-provided weaponry, some of it illegal under international law, to carpet-bomb the beleaguered and blockaded Gaza Strip, Mrs. Clinton had nothing but praise for Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. She further echoed the tired old line about Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ from rocket fire, as if an occupied nation does not have an internationally-recognized right to fight its occupier. One must note that, during 55 days in the summer of 2014, Israel fired more rockets into the Gaza Strip than Gaza fired into Israel in the previous 14 years. Additionally, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken critic of Israel (he is no longer allowed in that country), calls those ‘rockets’ fired from Gaza ‘enhanced fire works’. No one refers to the advanced weaponry the U.S. gives to Israel in such terms.

*During her last campaign for the presidency, she stated that, if Iran attacked her beloved Israel with nuclear weapons, the U.S., under her presidency would attack Iran and could ‘totally obliterate’ it. One must take her at her word, since she voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, a nation that in no way threatened the U.S., and in which over half the population was under the age of 15. So she would, one assumes, not hesitate to invade Iran, a nation with twice the population of Iraq, if it, too, did nothing to threaten the U.S.

So why, one wonders, is there so much enthusiasm among Democrats for a woman who, by all accounts, is a hypocritical war-monger, who is more motivated to enhance her own bottom line than to serve the cause of human rights? What is it that draws adoring crowds to her? Perhaps people are seduced by the idea of another first: they elected the first African-American president, so why not follow it up with the first woman president? Maybe it is her resume, which is, indeed, impressive. But any job-seeker will highlight notable job titles on their resume, but once at the interview, may have difficulty pointing to any real accomplishments. The voters, as interviewers, should take a close look at what achievements, if any, Mrs. Clinton has to support those remarkable job titles. They will find little.

But what is all this, when the candidate is surrounded by the magic of invincibility, the aura of newness, and represents the final shattering of the glass ceiling? Does she not deserve the presidency, for all her hard work, regardless of the lack of any real accomplishment? Don’t we, the voters, owe her this?

No, we don’t. She isn’t fit to serve in any capacity in government, due to the reasons detailed above, in addition to many others (stay tuned). In this case it is the empress, not the emperor, who has new clothes, only seen by Democrats stricken with some sudden myopia that prevents them from seeing the reality of her accomplishments which, like the new clothes, simply don’t exist.

One can generally rely on the Republicans to nominate a worse candidate than the Democrats; one hesitates to say the Democrat is usually better, since we are not operating in a ‘good, better, best’ zone here; far beneath it, unfortunately. But this time around, there may simply be no ‘lesser of two evils’ choice to make. And the U.S. will provide yet another tragedy for the country, and the world.

 

(first published in Counterpunch.org http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/04/17/hillary-a-disaster-in-the-making/)

Anti-Israel vs. Anti-Semitism

An apparent rise in anti-Semitism is being commented on throughout parts of Europe. This isn’t terribly surprising, since talking heads seem to be falling all over themselves to portray Israel as a struggling, vulnerable nation with hardly a friend in the world, so why not magnify any episodes of what might be construed as anti-Semitism to throw in as further evidence, no matter how dubious. But, if there is an increase in incidents of alleged anti-Semitism anywhere in the world, perhaps it might be worthwhile to take a closer look. By doing so, we may be able to determine if it is, indeed, anti-Semitism, or simply a manifestation of anger against Israel for its brutal oppression of Palestine.

It is estimated that in the last few years, at least a million residents have moved out of Israel. Studies indicate that this group consists mainly of better-educated, liberal Jews who, for whatever reason, may have wanted to immigrate to Israel, but, once there, found that it wasn’t a democracy, but a totalitarian, racist regime. Their departure paved the way for the re-election this year of Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. It has also allowed the continuing land theft, daily kidnapping and murder of Palestinians, bombing of the Gaza Strip, and the many other atrocities that Israel commits on a daily basis. As Israeli leaders screech about Israel being a ‘Jewish’ state, and the world sees that very state killing and oppressing innocent men, women and children on a daily basis, and sometimes in huge numbers, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the world may begin to equate being Jewish with being abominably cruel. The realistic extension of this is hostility towards Jews. Then the corporate-owned and controlled press screams anti-Semitism.

It is interesting to see how this cycle works. Israel commits genocide against Palestine, with weaponry the United States provides. This causes increased isolation of, and hostility towards, Israel. The government then plays the anti-Semitism card, and tells the U.S. it needs more money for weaponry for its ‘national security’ (it is amazing to this writer how so many diverse things represent an existential threat to Israel). The U.S. Congress, which is best seen as the humble employee of Israel, rushes in to provide that weaponry, which Israel uses to further oppress Palestine with unmatched barbarity. More nations, businesses and individuals respond to the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, further isolating Israel, as the blogosphere reports its atrocities. Hostility increases, and the merry-go-round never ends.

In addition to providing the weapons and technology Israel uses for its murders and oppression, the U.S. plays another role in the global marginalization and hostility towards Israel, by protecting it from international accountability at the United Nations, and under-reporting (to put it mildly) Israeli atrocities. With those atrocities whitewashed in the news media and by governmental officials, but the reality being shown on Facebook, Twitter and other sites, there is a general feeling of collusion between the two nations. That this collusion is factual is undisputed.

The schoolyard bully who complains that no one likes him has created his own problems. If coddled by the school administration, it, too, is complicit in his ostracization. On a macro level, the bully is Israel, with the U.S. serving the same function as the coddling school administration. And the result is the same: further marginalization of the Israeli bully.

There is a danger whenever a bully, be it an individual or a nation, begins to see that its intimidation is not resulting in its getting its way, but rather is causing it to be thwarted at every turn. In 2007, Russia chose not to sell defense weaponry to Iran, due in large part to pressure from the U.S. and apartheid Israel. Things are different in 2015, and Russia has confirmed that it will sell defense weapons to Iran. This is upsetting to the U.S. and Israel, saying it will complicate any attack they may want to make on Iran. And yes, it certainly will; one thinks that is probably Iran’s goal in obtaining these weapons. With two very powerful militaries rattling their sabers at Iran, that nation, like every other nation on the planet, must do what it can to protect its citizens. That Russia is willing to assist is a very positive sign.

The bully and its main cohort, the U.S., are feeling the effects of their actions, and not liking them one little bit. This will probably ramp up aggression from both; Israel will take out its anger on beleaguered Palestine, the struggling nation who’s destruction the U.S. finances, while the U.S. arms whatever nations it thinks might assist Israel, should a war with that country start. And all this buying and selling of weaponry is a great benefit to U.S. military companies, which are the largest suppliers of weapons in the world. They don’t care if Israel, Iran, Russia or France, for that matter, gets blown off the map: as long as the profits soar, the blood that finances them is unimportant.

No one likes a bully, and when the bully is Israel, the so-called ‘Jewish state’, the news media and the government can attempt to diminish hostility towards that bully by calling it anti-Semitism. They can attempt to shift the focus to violent extremists who pervert one or two verses from the Qur’an to justify their crimes. And why not? It works so well for the so-called Christian right to pick and choose verses from the Bible out of context, to justify their hatred of the poor, minorities, and anyone they view as ‘different’.

But those who oppose Israeli apartheid will not be so easily influenced; the news media, and government-appointed talking heads, are no longer the only sources of information available to the general public. People can see Israel for what it is, and the U.S. as its cash cow. It isn’t anti-Semitism that Israel needs to worry about; it is the exposure of its continued crimes against humanity that is causing so much hostility. That hostility is justified, and will continue until such time as the international community demands justice for Palestine. The strong winds of change are blowing, and not even the mighty U.S. can stop them.

 

(First published on the Palestine News Network: http://english.pnn.ps/index.php/opinion/9565-anti-israel-vs-anti-Semitism)

Muslims, Murder and Media Bias

With the tragic murder of three young Muslims at Chapel Hill University, apparently by an avowed atheist, it will be interesting to see the reactions from the media, politicians and the public. Let us consider some possibilities, based on recent history.

* A new hashtag, #wearechapelhill will flood the Twittersphere, and people around the world will ‘tweet’ their solidarity with the victims.

* Thousands of people will march at Chapel Hill, all carrying placards reading ‘We are Chapel Hill’.

* World leaders will gather at Chapel Hill, far away, of course, from any of the little people, and march together as a show of solidarity against non-religious-motivated terrorism. Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu will not be invited, but will show up anyway, and will push his way to the front of the crowd.

* President Barack Obama will decry this as a terrorist act, saying that while not all atheists are violent, those with violent tendencies must be stopped.

* The media will proclaim that Chapel Hill is now the frontier in the war against atheist-inspired terror.

* Atheists around the world will be the targets of harassment and violence.

Now, perhaps we can return to reality for a moment, and give this more serious consideration.

CNN, in its initial report on the crime, said this: “Police haven’t said what may have compelled the accused, Craig Stephen Hicks, to allegedly carry out the attack Tuesday evening. He turned himself in to police later in the night. But given the victims’ religion and comments the alleged shooter apparently left on a Facebook page, many social media users wondered what role, if any, the victims’ faith played.”

Preliminary, unconfirmed reports indicate that the accused gunman knew the victims, and had some conflicts with them over a parking space. Well, that seems to be a far better reason to kill a person than if he or she made a cottage industry out of insulting one’s religion. It will be interesting to see what the media does with this information, should it be confirmed. Will murderers who have twisted parts of a religion to suit their own bizarre beliefs and killed journalists who insulted their religion be seen as worse than a man who kills three people because of a parking-space dispute?

With the flames of hostility towards Muslims constantly being fanned by the government and media, with prominent right wing extremists even calling for their deaths, can this crime be surprising? Following the bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2013, the following Twitter exchange, between FOX News contributor Erik Rush and an individual named Bill Schmalfeldt occurred:

Rush: “Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let’s bring more Saudis in without screening them.”

Schmalfeldt: “Sweet God are you ALREADY BLAMING MUSLIMS?”

Rush: “@bloodonthemike. Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.”

Another FOX News political analyst, if such a term can reasonably be applied to a FOX News employee, Andrea Tantaros had these pearls of wisdom to say in August of 2014: “If you study the history of Islam. Our ship captains were getting murdered. The French had to tip us off. I mean these were the days of Thomas Jefferson. They’ve been doing the same thing. This isn’t a surprise. You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand. And all we’ve heard from this president is a case to heap praise on this religion, as if to appease them.”

Well, one assumes Ms. Tantaros is gratified that three Muslims from Chapel Hill each did, indeed, receive a bullet to the head. Three down, only 1.8 billion to go.

Prejudice against and corresponding fear of Muslims is nothing new. USA Today reported in 2013 that “Many widely believed Muslims were behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, until American militiaman Timothy McVeigh was convicted of the crime.” And following the shootings at Charlie Hebdo, violence against Muslims around the world spiked.

It is still, as is said, early days in the investigation and reporting of this crime. Perhaps it will be seen as just another U.S. campus shooting, so common now as to be hardly newsworthy. Perhaps the religion of the victims and the atheism of the alleged perpetrator will be ignored; after all, when a parking space is at stake, all other considerations pale.

So while the media is to able to paint all Muslims with the same brush as a few extremists in Paris, when Muslims are murder victims, it is merely coincidence. When a Muslim stands on one side of a gun, he and all Muslims are terrorists. When on the other side, they are merely individuals who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It will be interesting to see who is asked to apologize for this crime; perhaps there will be calls for all atheists to do so, although this is, of course, highly unlikely. Atheism is a respected concept in the west, and we all know that atheists, unlike Muslims, are individuals capable of independent thought. It will also be interesting to see how right wing journalists and so-called ministers respond; they are quick to condemn Islam with every invented opportunity, and since they are no fans of atheism, they will have to engage in some interesting verbal gymnastics to condemn atheism without somehow expressing sympathy for Muslims.

It may be some time, if ever, before the motivation for this savage crime is known. But if stories from the lives of the three victims, who by all accounts appear to have been compassionate, promising young people, can be publicized, perhaps prejudices against Muslims can be somewhat reduced, thus giving the deaths of these three young people some meaning.

 

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/13/muslims-murder-and-media-bias/

 

 

Islam: The new invented enemy

As many writers, including this one, have mentioned more than once in the past, the United States always needs an enemy. For much of the last seventy years, this was dominated by Communism, starting with two world wars and then accelerating with the infamous witch hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R- WI). The U.S. was able to build and expand its vast war machine by scaring the populace into the belief that there was a Communist hiding behind every door, just waiting for the right opportunity to wreak all kinds of havoc. It was this manufactured fear that enabled the U.S. to decimate Korea, and leave military basis there for over 50 years (and counting), and to kill millions of Vietnamese people prior to fleeing that nation in humiliating, well-deserved defeat.

Once the Berlin Wall fell, and many eastern European countries had violent or non-violent revolutions, somehow the glamour of fighting Communism faded. Oh, here and there the leader of a nation that was, perhaps, taking his nation too far to the left had to be eliminated, and this was always done under the lofty banner of freeing an oppressed people, although if they were genuinely oppressed, the U.S. never said it was simply changing their repressive leader for another repressive leader, more to the U.S.’s liking.

But fear-mongering is a tried and true method of operation in the U.S. In 2010, when the government, under Democratic President Barack Obama, decided to elevate itself from Third World status in the context of health care, the opposition party invented the concept of death panels. Here, they proclaimed darkly, government-appointed personnel would determine who was worthy of health care, and who must simply be placed on the side of a mountain to die. The elderly, the infirm, all of society’s most vulnerable citizens, the Republicans warned, would be weeded out by government mandate.

Despite the fact that there was never anything remotely resembling death panels in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act, these myths persist as reality in the minds of some. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who screamed the loudest, protested that an ‘end-of-life’ counseling provision, that was eventually dropped, was simply a euphemism for death panels. This program, which helped dying people write wills, decide on hospice care, etc. was exactly the same as Ms. Palin signed into law when she was governor. It was fine when proposed by a Republican, but deadly when proposed by a Democrat.

In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush and his minions terrified U.S. citizens into believing that al-Qaeda, the organization that had hijacked passenger jets and crashed them into various locations in the U.S., was working closely with the government of Iraq, and it was only a matter of a very short time before unspeakably horrible weapons would be decimating U.S. cities. The fact that al-Qaeda had only a minimal presence in Iraq, and that a bipartisan U.S. Congressional commission said there was ‘no credible evidence’ of Iraq’s complicity in the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the fact that United Nations’ weapons inspectors were finding no evidence of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ didn’t matter when fear-mongering couples with war-mongering. Iraq was invaded, with disastrous results for that country and the U.S.

And now that target has been crystallized, with Islam being the new enemy. An ignorant population that understands little beyond white, Anglo-Saxon Protestantism is more than ready to see Muslims as frightening people, little better than savages, who hate the U.S. because of its cherished, if really negligible, freedoms. They wear hijabs and kufeyahs, attend houses of worship without crosses on them, and speak a language that no self-respecting high school ever teaches. They are all, somehow, in the narrow minds of many U.S. citizens, associated with Sharia law, which, in its strictest interpretation, can be harsh. And government officials and right-wing pundits have not hesitated to exploit that concept.

January 29, 2015 marked the eleventh annual Texas Capitol Muslim Day. This event is billed as ‘an opportunity for community members to learn about the democratic political process and how to be an advocate for important issues.’ This does not seem to be anything that should be particularly controversial in any nation that purports to be a democracy. But this was not the case. One state representative, Molly White (R- Belton) disgraced herself by leaving instructions with her staff that any visiting Muslims must renounce terrorism and proclaim their allegiance to the U.S. To add insult to injury, she left an Israeli flag on the reception desk in her office.

Despite considerable criticism, Ms. White persisted in her ignorant display of Islamophobia. She later posted this on her Facebook page: ‘I do not apologize for my comments. … If you love America, obey our laws and condemn Islamic terrorism, then I embrace you as a fellow American. If not, then I do not.’ It seems for Ms. White, every citizen, or at least every Muslim, must wear an American flag label pin (and possibly an Israel flag lapel pin), go around singing the national anthem, and discuss nothing but the horror of Islamic terror. She doesn’t seem particularly concerned about U.S. drone strikes whose ‘collateral damage’ is often innocent people who happen to be Muslim, or the mass killings by Christians of Muslims in Africa. Murder, apparently, is abhorrent when done in the name of Islam, but not when done in the name of Christianity, or by the U.S. government.

The U.S. has unlimited examples of fear mixing with ignorance and begetting violence. Look no further than Ferguson, Missouri, for a recent example of a white police officer, seeing an unarmed black youth and not hesitating to shoot him. Similar incidents would fill volumes to document. And now violence against Muslims, never far beneath the surface but seldom reported, is being condoned and encouraged by a media rabid for an enemy, and a government content to let it do so.

In 2006, when Keith Ellison was sworn in as the first Muslim member of Congress, he took the oath of office with his hand on the Qur’an. This did not sit well with some of his new peers. Rep. Virgil Goode (R–VA) wrote to his constituents about the horror of this event. Such behavior, he intoned, is a threat to “the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America…” Further, he predicted that more Muslims would be elected, and would swear in on the Qur’an. Said he: “…if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Qur’an”. Mr. Goode’s fear of ‘more Muslims elected to office’ apparently resonates with a significant number of voters.

His proclamations are not isolated incidents. Former Arkansas governor and periodic presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has stated that U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration are ‘incapable of knowing the difference between good and evil’, and are ‘bending over backwards to do everything possible to accommodate Muslims but they don’t mind stomping all over Christians and they do it regularly. This is just the most astonishing reversal of true American tradition that I’ve ever seen.’ More of the ‘us vs. them’ mentality that is necessary when inventing enemies.

Arch-conservative commentator Erik Rush, columnist of the radical right’s World Net Daily, last year tweeted that all Muslims should be killed. In an article of January 30, 2015, he said that there is no ‘distinction that exists between Islam and ‘radical Islam.’’ He further said that ‘all Muslims are part of this diabolical design of supplanting Western civilization with an Islamic one.’

These are just a few examples of rampant Islamophobia morphing into hatred and encouraging violence.

There seems to be some general feeling, as articulated so ineloquently by Ms. White, that every Muslim must actively condemn violence done in the name of Islam. As a Christian, this writer feels no need to apologize for the bizarre proclamations of the so-called Christian right, some of which are mentioned above. The peculiar rantings of radical right, Bible-thumping ministers, or the paranoid ravings of extreme rightwing columnists and broadcasters have nothing to do with this writer’s understanding of Christianity. Even more importantly, they have nothing to do with this writer.

Being ‘sorry’ takes two forms. One can be sorry, as this writer is, that Muslims are being harassed, beaten and killed in many parts of the world. However, this writer does not apologize for such behaviors, because he is not perpetrating them. Muslims may be sorry that people were shot and killed in the offices of a French magazine, without apologizing, since they had nothing to do with that crime. The actions of a few do not represent the feelings of the many. This writer may be sorry that so-called Christian pundits declare that marriage equality will bring an end to civilization as we know it, but he does not apologize for those statements, since he is not making them.

But what is any of this? When the media, with complete government consent, views Islam as the enemy and everyone else as the victim, what is the point of logic? Why let facts get in the way of self-righteous hatred? Who is this writer to attempt to deprive the U.S. of the new enemy it has invented?

Yet he will criticize and work to defeat this behavior, so prevalent now in the U.S. and throughout much of the world. It is this Islamophobia, in part, that enables Israel to commit crimes against humanity with impunity. It is this same Islamophobia that enables the U.S. to perpetrate unspeakable terror against countries in the Middle East, all, incredibly, in the name of peace and freedom. That it is all unjust, unreasonable and unsupportable with facts is clear to anyone who will look beyond flashy hashtags and the popular sound bites of the moment. Convincing a population more interested in waving a flag than in human rights and justice is not an easy task. Yet it must be done.

 

http://www.iiprc.org/islam–the-new-invented-enemy-1.html