Apartheid South Africa And Apartheid Israel: One Was Shunned, The Other, Embraced

KITCHENER, Ontario — (Analysis) In 1948, the same year as the founding of the state of Israel, South Africa made a policy of apartheid the law of the land. This policy of racial discrimination would remain in place for 55 years, causing untold suffering for millions of people.
Conditions under apartheid in South Africa may not be widely known or understood. It meant separate and inferior public services, benches and building entrances for anyone who was not white (European). Writing for The Associated Press, Michelle Faul described life in apartheid South Africa: Train carriages for black people (Africans) and people of mixed race or other non-white ethnicity (colored) were “decrepit,” and while gas stations would sell fuel to non-white drivers, these drivers were not allowed to use the restrooms.
But that was certainly not the extent of it. Under this racist policy, the non-white population was stripped of citizenship, and any and all non-white political representation was abolished, thus depriving the majority of the population of having any voice in the government.
Under apartheid, the minority white population (4.5 million people) owned 87 percent of the property, while the majority non-white population (19 million people) owned the remaining 13 percent.
Additionally, non-whites were forced into bantustans, where water was hard to come by and sanitation almost unheard of. As a result, it is estimated that 15 million South Africans were without safe water and 20 million without sanitation. Meanwhile, the white majority had all the water they wanted, and sanitation was not a problem for them.
Deciding the race of an individual was hardly scientific. One test was to see if a pencil would stay in a person’s hair. If the pencil slid through, the person was considered white.
“Under such rules of apartheid, Chinese were classified colored despite their straight hair; Japanese were white,” Faul wrote. “Blacks who wanted to be reclassified as colored also could undergo the pencil test: if it fell out when you shook your head, you could be become colored.”
It was not unusual for families to be separated due to such tests, including the removal of children from their parents.
 Violence against the non-white population was endemic. Random shootings by white police of non-whites, kidnapping of non-whites, despite having the necessary paperwork that identified them, and rampant torture were all part of life in apartheid South Africa.
Boycotting South African apartheid
This system of apartheid didn’t sit well with the international community. In 1962 the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 1761, which declared apartheid to be a violation of South Africa’s obligations under the UN Charter and a threat to international peace and security. Member states were asked to voluntarily boycott South Africa and break diplomatic relations. Though initially ignored by most nations, this action, along with the creation of the U.N. Special Committee Against Apartheid, greatly encouraged the growing civil society-based, international solidarity campaign.
An academic boycott, begun in 1965, empowered principled academics from around the world to refuse invitations to South Africa to lecture and to pass on collaborating on scholarly projects with South African academics.
Athletics are an important component of South African society, and the sports boycott, begun in 1961 with South Africa’s expulsion from FIFA, the international soccer governing body, proved effective. South Africa was excluded from many international rugby and cricket competitions, not to mention the 1964 Olympics. After nearly 50 countries threatened to boycott the 1970 Olympics in protest of possible involvement by South Africa, the country was expelled from the Games.
Starting from the mid-1980s, the European Community and Commonwealth countries imposed some trade and financial sanctions. In the United States, President Ronald Reagan opposed sanctions, but, to appease Congress, did agree to a limited ban on exports. (It must be remembered that the U.S., never at the forefront of human rights when power or economic strength may be compromised, considered Nelson Mandela, the longtime leader of efforts to overturn South African apartheid, a terrorist. Indeed, Mandela was on a “terrorism watch list” as late as 2008, decades after some semblance of democracy had been initiated in South Africa.)
Another major effort was the grassroots campaign to encourage institutional investors to withdraw all investment from countries based in South Africa. American university campuses became a focal point for such efforts.
Now and then
Apartheid in South Africa officially ended with the 1994 elections in which members of all races were allowed to vote.
Yet the ugliness of apartheid still exists elsewhere, most notably in Israel. A few examples highlight the similarities of South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid:
Capture
Congress condemned apartheid in South Africa, even overriding a presidential veto to sanction that country, but Congress cannot seem to praise Israel enough. What is different now than it was 30 years ago?Although there are stark similarities, conditions for Palestinians under Israeli apartheid are considered far worse than they ever were for non-whites under South African apartheid. Yet there does not appear to be the same international outcry against Israeli apartheid as there was against South African apartheid.
One hates to sound cynical, but, as with so much in U.S. governance, it all seems to come down to money. Between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2015, Israel lobbies contributed $12.6 million to U.S. senators for election, re-election and presidential campaigns. From April 13, 2013 to March 31, 2015, Israel lobbies contributed $4.3 million to members of the House of Representatives for election, re-election and presidential campaigns. A 2013 report indicates that, at that time, winning a senate seat in the U.S. cost about $10.5 million, while a seat in the House of Representatives cost about $1.7 million. It is much easier, certainly, to obtain a single contribution of tens, or perhaps hundreds, of thousands of dollars, than to collect that amount with donations of $5 or $10 from working people.
The impact of the Israel lobby on American politics is nothing new, though. In 1984, incumbent Sen. Charles Percy of Illinois was defeated for re-election by Paul Simon. Mr. Simon was tapped by the American Israel Political Affairs Committee to run against Mr. Percy, who had acknowledged not on
ly the existence of the Palestinians, but also that they had rights. This was untenable in a U.S. senator, and with backing from the powerful AIPAC, Mr. Percy was defeated. Congressional dissent from the AIPAC party line will not be tolerated.
At the recent AIPAC convention, GOP presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who, during the six-year period mentioned above received $100,354 from Israel lobbies, actually told his receptive audience that “Palestine has not existed since 1948.” This was perhaps the most extreme statement made to AIPAC audience by anyone seeking the U.S. presidency this year.
Money and fear fuel support for Israel
In February of 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme participated in “The Swedish People’s Parliament Against Apartheid,” during which he described apartheid as “this despicable, doomed system.” He was assassinated one week later. After Sweden officially recognized Palestine in 2014, Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallström, received numerous death threats.
France and Belgium are two additional countries that seem, at least in some regards, favorable to Palestine, and there has been talk in both nations about recognition of Palestine. Some pundits note that it is, at best, an odd coincidence that each experienced a “terrorist” attack after making known their intentions about recognizing Palestine.
So it appears that money and fear play a significant role in global support for Israel, but that support is quickly fading, as more countries recognize Palestine and condemn Israel. Steps by the European Union requiring appropriate labeling of Israeli goods produced on occupied land; the increasing academic, economic and entertainment boycott of Israel; and even the U.S., Israel’s main financier, approval of the Iran nuclear agreement that Israel spent as much as $40 million opposing, all point to a major change in world opinion.
Today, with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement gaining traction at universities, religious organizations and labor unions, the same methods that ended apartheid in South Africa are being implemented to accomplish the same thing in Israel.
Frederick Douglass, who fled slavery and went on to become a leader in the abolitionist movement and American statesman, once said, “Power never concedes anything without a demand; it never has and it never will.” The world is now demanding that Israel surrender its power over Palestinians. Israel is resisting, as it has for decades, but as the weight of the demand increases, Israel will eventually bow beneath it.
Originally published by MintPressNews.

A closer look at Sanders’ letter to AIPAC

 There seems to be a great deal of excitement surrounding Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ absence from last month’s American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention, the letter he sent, and the recently-released draft of the speech he would have given.

In the letter, which is, basically, the speech, Mr Sanders does two remarkable things that no other presidential candidate has done in recent memory: he acknowledged the existence of Palestinians, and recognised their right to self-determination.

This is, of course, to be commended, but, other than his pronouncements about Palestine, the good senator did not stray too far from the usual pro-Israel talking points regurgitated by politicians in the United States.

Let’s look at just some of the pandering Mr Sanders did for his Zionist audience.

“America and Israel are united … by our values, including a deep commitment to democratic principles, civil rights, and the rule of law.

At this point, any but a zealous Zionist should have tuned out, and accepted Mr Sanders as what he is: a politician, bowing down, perhaps not as deeply, but bowing nonetheless, to the Israeli master. It is difficult to know where each of the lofty concepts he listed – democratic principles, civil rights, or the rule of law –is more routinely violated, in the US or Israel. In the US, ‘democratic principles’ apparently mean thwarting the will of the people when they elect a president, by calling in the Supreme Court to award the presidency to someone else, as was done in 2000. It means, as Mr Sanders of all people should know, allowing the so-called ‘Super Delegates’ to vote to nominate whoever they choose, despite the will of the people. In Israel, ‘democratic principles’ means having separate laws for Jewish Israelis and non-Jewish Israelis, with those for non-Jewish Israelis far more restrictive and punitive than the others.

The concept of ‘civil rights’ in either country could be considered a joke, except that no one is laughing. In the US, white police officers use unarmed young Black men as target practice, with nearly complete impunity. IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers use unarmed Palestinian men, women and children the same way.

And now we get to ‘the rule of law’. Well, in the US while the rules may appear to be the same for everyone, the more money one has, the more one is able to circumvent the law. In Israel, any laws, including murder, that apply to both Jewish Israelis and non-Jewish Israelis, and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, are enforced very differently.

“Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and we – as a nation – are committed not just to guaranteeing Israel’s survival, but also to its people’s right to live in peace and security.”

The concept of ‘ally’ seems to indicate that each side benefits. What the US gets from this peculiar alliance, beyond a seemingly endless source of money for political campaigns, is anybody’s guess.

And why is it that the US is committed to ‘guaranteeing Israel’s survival’, any more than that of Iraq, France, Guatemala, or any other nation? What has Israel done to warrant this paternal protection?

One might also ask why the US, busy depriving the people of Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and who knows how many other places of their ‘right to live in peace and security’, should be so concerned about Israel’s.

“I believe firmly that the only prospect for peace is the successful negotiation of a two-state solution.”

This begs two questions: First, since negotiations can only be successful between two parties, each of which has something the other wants, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has, why would Israel be interested in negotiations? For decades it has taken from Palestine whatever it wants, with complete impunity. Why would it want to kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs?

Second, why are negotiations even required? International law recognises Palestine’s and Israel’s borders as those that existed prior to 1967. What was it Mr Sanders said about ‘the rule of law’? If someone robs a bank, the police do not contact the robber and the bank manager, and ask them to sit down and determine how much of the money the robber will return. The money is all returned to the bank, and the robber is punished as the laws of that particular community demand. Why is it so different for Israel?

“Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all of Israel’s right to exist. “

Mr Sanders seemed to have omitted ‘unconditional recognition by all’ of Palestine’s right to exist. Palestine, with no army, no navy and no air force is in no position to destroy Israel. Yet by its continued illegal settlement expansion, Israel is slowly denying Palestine’s right to exist.

“It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel. “

But will it not also require an end to ‘attacks of all kinds’ against Palestine? Yes, Palestine occasionally fires ‘rockets’ into Israel, rockets that Dr Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and a strong proponent of Palestinian rights, refers to as ‘enhanced fireworks’. Israel has the fourth most powerful military in the world, backed by the most powerful. And in fifty-one days in the summer of 2014, Israel launched more rockets into the Gaza Strip than Palestine launched into Israel in the previous fourteen years.

“The third major challenge in the region is Iran, which routinely destabilises the Middle East and threatens the security of Israel. Now, we all agree that Iran must not get a nuclear weapon.”

Does it, and do we? It seems to this writer that the United States, with its training, arming and funding of various rebel groups, does far more than Iran to destabilise the Middle East.

And why is it that Israel is permitted to have nuclear weapons, completed unregulated by the international community, and Iran’s peaceful nuclear program must be scrutinised by the world’s self-appointed police force?

As anyone who is interested in Palestinian rights and self-determination looks with some hope to Mr Sanders, it is also important to note that, in this letter, he referred to ‘Israel’ forty-one times, but only said the word ‘Palestine’ once.

The senator from Vermont is waging a battle against former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, and it is an uphill one, since there seems to be a feeling among Democratic Party bigwigs that he is just an annoyance on the road to her coronation at the Democratic convention. He has, to some extent, differentiated himself on the Palestine issue, but he seems to have worked hard to compensate for that sin by echoing the words that are music to Zionists’ ears.

In all likelihood, the next president of the United States will be a puppet of Israel, dancing to its tune as it pulls all the strings. Freedom and justice for Palestine, like that for South Africans a generation ago, will not initiate within the hallowed halls of the US Congress, or the White House. No, it will come from other nations with a more democratic, and less oligarchical, nature than the US.  But Mr Sanders skipping of the AIPAC convention, and his acknowledgement of Palestinian rights, represents a sea change in the US. It is just one of many in the US and internationally. Progress toward freedom and justice for Palestine is happening; the outcome of the US election may slow it, but cannot stop it.

Originally published by Days of Palestine.

AIPAC, Israel and the U.S: an Unholy Alliance

The annual Israeli-lobby love fest is in full swing, the highlight of which may be the sight of most of the candidates for the highest office in the land groveling before their financial masters. The annual AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee; oops! That is, officially, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee) orgy always draws the United States president and every member of Congress worthy to be called a lackey for Israel, and their name is legion.

But during what the U.S. calls an election year, that quadrennial event when a four-year lease for the White House is auctioned off to the highest bidder, excitement at AIPAC is at a fever pitch. And this year, the thrill is even greater, since this is the first major meeting of this unholy lobby since the passage of the Iran agreement that moderates that nation’s nuclear ambitions, an agreement that the Israeli lobby found most unpalatable. Also, in January of next year, Israel will have a brand new president, when that odious Barack Obama, with whom Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu has a most uncordial relationship, will be replaced.

It is amazing to anyone who is not besotted with Israel, anyone who recognizes its constant, ongoing war crimes and violations of international law, to observe this spectacle. And what a spectacle has been brought to us thus far this year! A few gems will suffice to help the reader know what he or she is missing.

*The frontrunner for the GOP nomination, businessman and erstwhile reality television star Donald Trump, wowed the audience by promising to dismantle the nuclear agreement with Iran, and condemning Palestinian violence while he commended Israeli moderation. ‘The Donald’, famous for saying whatever his racist audience, be it an all-white one in Middle-America or a Zionist one in the nation’s capital, wants to hear, certainly delivered for AIPAC.

*Republican candidate wannabe Senator Ted Cruz, the obnoxious junior senator from Texas, who received $100,354 from various Israeli lobbies between 2009 and 2015, proclaimed, in response to Mr. Trump’s remarks, the amazing statement that the nation of Palestine doesn’t exist, and hasn’t since 1948! Well, aren’t we all enlightened by such a geography lesson from Mr. Cruz? Never mind that Palestine is recognized by at least 193 member states of the United Nations, and the United Nations itself. What is any of that, against the proclamations of a U.S. senator? Mr. Cruz announced to his anticipated AIPAC financiers that he would personally, as U.S. president, veto any move by the U.N. to enhance its recognition of Palestine, and would withhold federal funding from any institution, including universities, that boycotts Israel. Finally, he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something opposed by the world community. It is difficult to imagine a speech more pleasing to the Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee.

*On the Democratic side, former First Lady Hillary Clinton also pleased her financiers. She vowed to strengthen U.S.-Israel ties, fight BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction), and strengthen the Israeli military machine. Nothing surprising from the woman who would be queen (or in this case, president), and who is beholden to every major lobby group and 1% special interest group in the country.

*Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the only Jewish candidate in the race, skipped the convention in order to campaign in the west. This, in itself, was an affront to Zionists everywhere. His offer to appear via video was refused, so he sent a letter instead. In this missive, he did, unlike his various competitors, throw a bone to the Palestinians, saying that the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza Strip must end. But he talked about Israeli democracy, which is a figment of the imagination of U.S. and Israel public relations campaigns, and was careful to refer to the safety of the ‘Palestinians’, but never to a safe and secure Palestine, although a safe and secure Israel was uppermost in his words.

Mr. Sanders also talked about the shared values between the U.S. and Israel. He was, quite possibly, referring to racism, disdain for international law, a ‘might makes right’ attitude and other ‘values’ that the two nations share.

So that is what is being served at the AIPAC convention this year, and it is certainly a foul-tasting meal. More racism, more genocide, more apartheid, all financed and supported by the U.S., that bastion of liberty and freedom (see earlier comment about public relations). Yet for the Zionist population, the words of all the candidates, with the exception of Mr. Sanders, were music to their ears.

But do Mr. Sanders words really represent some hope for Palestine? Well, he does seem to recognize that the concepts of human rights and self-determination do apply to them, a fact that escapes all the other presidential candidates, and that is a good sign. But talk is cheap, and the senator has a long history of supporting Israel’s periodic carpet-bombing of the Gaza Strip. But with an election year offering the likes of Messrs. Cruz and Trump, and her highness, Mrs. Clinton, we should be grateful for any small favors such as those offered by Mr. Sanders.

On March 20 of this year, I attended the AIPAC convention, but only from the outside; he had no desire to join the racist Zionist hoodlums in the convention center. He listened to the thoughtful words of Rabbi Dovid Weiss; author Miko Peled, son of a prominent Israeli general, and many others who oppose Zionism. The number of attendees was not large; certainly, it was dwarfed by the 18,000 attending the convention. But the numbers don’t tell the story; what is telling is that at least two of the major party candidates singled out BDS for mention, indicating the growing strength and effectiveness of that movement.

Criticism of Palestinian resistance, with no acknowledgement that Israeli oppression is the cause, a fact that even United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke clearly of in January of this year, falls increasingly on deaf ears in any but a Zionist audience. International impatience with Apartheid Israel, seen in the increasing number of resolutions to recognize Palestine, and growing numbers of laws to clearly label products made in the occupied West Bank as Israeli, and not Palestinian, continues to expand. Time is on the side of justice; Israel and the U.S. will not prevail against it forever.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

The Facade of Israel is Cracking

For many more years than any intelligent person would want to count, Israel was the sacred cow of the United States. From its violent, bloody, genocidal inception that involved the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians, and the murder of another 10,000, right through to the illegal, immoral occupation of the West Bank and blockade (aka occupation) of the Gaza Strip, Israel, in the view of U.S. governance and politics, could do no wrong. Anyone who dared to criticize Israel’s many crimes was accused of anti-Semitism; as Dr. Norman Finkelstein said, “whenever Israel faces a public relations debacle, its apologists sound the alarm that a ‘new anti-Semitism’ is upon us”. In the past, if a Jew, such as Dr. Finkelstein, was critical of Israel, Zionists raised the cry that he was ‘a self-hating Jew’, and U.S. politicians bought that ridiculous line. As a result, Israel became the beneficiary of the bulk of U.S. foreign aid, and has relied on the U.S. for years for protection from international accountability for its crimes, with the U.S always happy to veto any United Nations resolution condemning Israeli violations of human rights and international law.

Oh, but what a difference a 51-day, genocidal onslaught can make! This, of course, refers to the invasion and carpet-bombing of the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2014. Israel had previously been able to ‘mow the grass’, as it refers to these periodic bombing episodes, with complete impunity. But thanks largely to social media, the world stopped believing that vulnerable, little Israel, with the fourth largest military in the world, and supplied and backed by the largest, was in grave danger from Big Bad Palestine, a nation it illegally occupies, and which has no army, navy or air force. Ongoing settlement activity by apartheid Israel, along with Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration that Palestinians would never have an independent state while he is prime murderer, and a conflicted relationship with his favorite check-writer, President Barack Obama, seem to have soured the whole thing for Israel.

How is this manifesting itself? Well, in a variety of ways, actually. Mr. Obama has ordered that goods produced by Israel in the occupied West Bank must clearly state that that is the case; they cannot say ‘manufactured in Israel’ anymore. This has brought down the wrath of Zionists everywhere.

Against Israeli wishes, the U.S., along with European Union, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany entered into an agreement with Iran that regulates that nation’s nuclear program. Various Israeli lobbies spent around $40 million opposing this agreement, to no avail. And Mr. Netanyahu has been saying for decades that Iran is only months away from nuclear weapons. Time must be measured somewhat differently in Israel than it is in the rest of the world.

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate hopeful Bernie Sanders did the unthinkable this year: he skipped the AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) convention this month. He did, however, send a letter, in which he added insult to injury, when he not only recognized the existence of the Palestinians, but also acknowledged that they have legitimate rights to self-determination! Absolutely inconceivable for a U.S. politician!

But it gets worse (for Zionists). On March 29, the other senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry (aka, Israel’s whipping boy), signed by himself and ten members of the House of Representatives, requesting that the State Department investigate possible human rights violations by Israel, saying that if Israel is so guilty, U.S. law requires that aid to it is adjusted. Such aid to any country is conditioned upon that country’s adherence to international law in the area of human rights, and Mr. Leahy has received credible word (which the rest of the world has been privy to for years), that Israel is, perhaps, in violation.

The international scene is not boding much better for Israel. The European Union, like the U.S. (and leading the way, of course; one must not expect leadership in human rights to emanate from the United States), now requires that Israeli products from the occupied West Bank be clearly stated as such. And much to the horror of FOX News, the United Nations named Israel the top human rights violator in the world, due to its killing of women and children in Palestine.

Now, the news is not all bad. It is likely that either wind-bag businessman Donald Trump, or Miss 1% herself, Hillary Clinton, will be the next president of the United States, and there is no Israeli hoop through which they are not willing to jump. Zionists were treated to more butt-kissing at the AIPAC convention from each of the candidates, with desperate and despicable Senator Ted Cruz (R – TX) going so far as to deny the very existence of Palestine! Such a proclamation may have soothed the hurt their feelings sustained by the words of Mr. Sanders. But outside the convention hall, pro-Palestinian demonstrators (including this writer), detracted perhaps just a little bit from the fun of the Zionist bacchanal going on inside the convention hall.

And let us not lose sight of the fact that the U.S. is fomenting all kinds of wars and uprisings in the Middle East, mainly to prevent any other country from challenging Israeli superiority in the area. This is an old model; as early as 1961, the U.S. opposed its previously hand-picked Iraqi leader, Abdel Karim Kassem, when he began to build up armaments, and talked of challenging Israeli dominance. So, since such a thing was unheard of, he was overthrown by the CIA, which installed his successor, one Saddam Hussein. We won’t consider now how well that all turned out.

But it does seem that poor little Israel is finally beginning to get the short end of the stick with which it has been bashing Palestinians for decades. Yes, a new president will pucker-up sufficiently, but the narrative has changed; things cannot return to the status quo once that obnoxious concept – facts – that the U.S. has no use for, has been let out of the box. What will it mean? It is too early to tell how it will play out; AIPAC will do everything in its considerable power to assure that Congress remains firmly under its thumb. But as it unsuccessfully unleashed its power to defeat the Iran nuclear agreement, even sending Mr. Netanyahu to address Congress about it, it will be unsuccessful in seizing back the narrative.

So we can all expect to hear more cries of anti-Semitism, anytime anyone condemns Israeli crimes. We will hear more about how the Israeli army is the most moral in the world, as more and more videos show Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed and unthreatening men, women and children. We will hear how Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, as its apartheid laws cause untold suffering for non-Israelis, and non-Jewish Israelis.

But the light is now clearly visible at the end of the tunnel; the train of justice is barreling down, and Israel will only be a minor impediment, slowing it, possibly, but unable to stop it. When it reaches the station, Palestine will be free.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Whitewashing Militarism, Vietnam-War Edition

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the Vietnamese victory over the United States, in the war that ravaged Vietnam, and caused untold suffering and division in the U.S. It was said, after the people of Vietnam were able to resist the most powerful military machine in the world, that the U.S. needed to rethink its war-mongering and military aggression, and, perhaps, turn to diplomacy before resorting to bombs. The lessons of Vietnam, it was proclaimed, must be remembered.

It doesn’t take a historian to see that any lessons from that disastrous war were all quickly forgotten. Not only has this been manifested by the U.S.’s almost constant war-making since its defeat in Vietnam, but now the government is also ‘commemorating’ that deadly, imperial disaster. To this end, it has launched a 13-year Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. This farce began in 2012, and the country will be subjected to it, in one form or another, until 2025.

Looking at the commemoration’s website, there are five (5) stated objectives. Each is more puzzling than the last. We will look at each one in some detail.

“To thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war (POW), or listed as missing in action (MIA), for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.”

The U.S. has an odd way of thanking veterans, if it believes that an occasional parade will do the trick. Veterans, including large numbers of those who ‘served’ (more on that ridiculous term later) in Vietnam, have an above-average rate of depression, suicide, homelessness, drug-addiction and domestic violence. Victims of Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant used widely in Vietnam, which cause untold physical problems for veterans and their children, fought for years to have their illnesses recognized by the government as having been caused by those chemicals. Veterans’ hospitals have been shown to have long waiting lists, and deplorable conditions.

“To highlight the service of the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of Federal agencies and governmental and non-governmental organizations that served with, or in support of, the Armed Forces.”

One wonders why anyone wants to highlight the activities of organizations that made the killing of innocent men, women and children easier and more effective.

“To pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the Vietnam War.”

It would seem to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of life in the U.S. during the Vietnam-War era that the nation should pay tribute to the contributions made by those who opposed the war. Tens of thousands of young men fled the country, rather than be victimized by the U.S. slave trade known as conscription. Countless others who went to Vietnam returned home and actively opposed the war. Numerous others were jailed when their conscientious-objector applications were denied, or when they publically burned their draft cards. Eventually, even the corporate-owned media, and many politicians, saw the validity and honor of their actions. But during this endless commemoration, all this will be ignored.

“To highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during the Vietnam War.”

Now, perhaps, we are getting to the heart of the matter. Such ‘advances’ mainly serve to advance the bottom line of the fat-cats who profit from war. And any golden calf is always worth worshipping in the United States. And if so many advances in technology, science and medicine resulted from the Vietnam War, well then, why not have another war, and see what additional advances can be made?

“To recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies of the United States during the Vietnam War.”

It would not be unreasonable to think that these allies would just as soon forget the whole thing. All any reminders of their involvement in the U.S.’s Vietnam folly can do is bring to mind any repeat of those mistakes when the U.S., with equal justification (read: none) invaded Iraq. So this commemorative frolic may not be something the allies will embrace.

And now let us take a moment to consider the term ‘military service’, an oxymoron if ever there was one. Militarism, as has been amply demonstrated by the U.S. for over two centuries, brings death, poverty, oppression, denial of human rights, and the untold and unspeakable suffering of innocent men, women and children. This has been true from the War of 1812 right up through today, as the U.S. and its allies bomb Syria, and spread suffering there, while causing increased hatred towards the United States. The killing of the innocent might be called ‘collateral damage’, but more of the innocent suffer and die than any of the U.S.’s self-identified ‘enemies’.

What does any of this have to do with service? That word, except when perverted by being affixed to the word ‘military’, implies selfless assistance, the acts of helping people who are suffering, or are somehow less fortunate than those performing the service. Volunteers in homeless shelters, at food banks, school programs and other facilities where people are assisted can be said to serve. Educators who devote their lives to teaching, despite low salaries, serve. But soldiers who invade independent countries and kill their citizens are not serving; there is a word for killing people, and it is not ‘service’.

But today, and for the next several years, apparently, the president and various other politicians will proclaim the greatness of the cause that led to the Vietnam War, looking at it through the 40-year-old tint of rose-colored glasses, and praise it as an example of U.S. greatness. There will be no mention of the anger on university campuses that often resulted in extreme police violence against students. The young men who left the country in order to avoid forced participation in the immorality of war will be ignored. And the citizen-lemmings will forget the scenes of U.S. personnel desperately fleeing Saigon as the Vietcong entered victoriously, and will place hand on heart, pledge allegiance to the flag, and sit back as the U.S. continues to operate the most effective killing machine on the planet.

Why Every President Since Truman Has Been An Israel Hawk

KITCHENER, Ontario — (Analysis) The establishment of the state of Israel is known throughout Palestine as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” As the British Mandate of Palestine ended throughout 1947 and 1948, at least 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homeland, and another 100,000 or more were massacred.

Although the United States wasn’t an active party to the circumstances that led to the Nakba, the country’s long history with Israel has only been supportive of that nation’s barbarity — and that support has grown exponentially over the years.

In the U.S., the press framed Palestinian resistance as opposition to the Jewish state rather than an assertion of their own human rights. Scholar Michael A. Dohse wrote in “American Periodicals and the Palestine Triangle, April, 1936 to February, 1947”:

“Despite the fact that there was considerable evidence of the extreme nationalistic drive behind the Zionist movement, which was its motivating force, American journals gave a good press to the Zionists’ alleged goal of building a democratic commonwealth in Palestine. How this would be possible when the Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population and were opposed to Zionism, did not seem to be a relevant question to many of the magazines.”

This, of course, was in complete contravention of U.S. doctrine, even as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and “[t]hat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The consent of the governed — in this case, the Palestinians — was not to be considered.

 

Pre-WWII, pre-state of Israel

Months before the Balfour Declaration was made in November of 1917, declaring British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson commented on the absolute need for self-determination. On May 27, 1916, he said: “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.”

Mr. Wilson continued his lofty rhetoric, telling Congress on Feb. 11, 1918: “National aspirations must be respected; peoples may not be dominated and governed only by their own consent.” Further, in the same speech on German-Austrian “peace utterances,” he declared: “Self-determination is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.”

These and subsequent speeches by Mr. Wilson were troubling to his secretary of state, Robert Lansing. In his private journals, according to Frank Edward Manuel in his book “The Realities of American Palestine Relations,” Lansing wrote that such concepts were “‘… loaded with dynamite, might breed disorder, discontent and rebellion’. His neat, logical mind saw it leading the president into strange contradictions: ‘Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically committed?’”

If the Palestinians ever relied on U.S. rhetoric to assist them in achieving the basic human rights that all people are entitled to, they were certainly to be disappointed.

 

Truman, Eisenhower

Following World War II, the world was anxious to make some kind of reparation to the Jewish people for the Holocaust. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, passed on Nov. 29, 1947, effectively partitioned Palestine into two states.

It is difficult to properly quantify the degree of injustice that this entailed. “Although Jews owned only about seven percent of the land in Palestine and constituted about 33 percent of the population, Israel was established on 78 percent of Palestine,” according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no voice in the decision that evicted them, no reparation for the loss of their homes and lands, and nowhere to go but refugee camps.

By this time, Harry S. Truman was president, and he offered full consent for this plan for reasons that will be familiar to readers today: He was subjected to intense lobbying by the Zionist lobby. He also felt that by supporting the establishment of Israel, he would be in a better position to be elected to a full term as president, having ascended to that office upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lobbying and political considerations then, as now, trump human rights every time.

Mr. Truman was elected president in his own right in 1948, and was succeeded four years later by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who named John Foster Dulles as his secretary of state.

Mr. Dulles was familiar with the Palestine-Israel situation, and his sympathies clearly rested with Israel. In 1944, he played an active role in seeing that the platform of the Republican Party included support for a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine, and also that the platform called for the protection of Jewish political rights. Years later, he exerted a strong influence on the president under whom he served, setting the tone for the Eisenhower administration’s attitude toward Israel and Palestine.

 

Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter

Things appeared to take a turn with the administration of John F. Kennedy, who showed support for the right of return for refugees, as described in Paragraph 11 of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 of Dec. 11, 1948. That resolution affirms that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Government or authorities responsible.”

Israel, under David Ben-Gurion, used what has become a tried and true method to oppose this measure: The state’s founder and first prime minister called it a threat to Israel’s national security.

Ultimately, Resolution 194 passed, but has yet to have any effect.

Despite his apparent support for Palestinian refugees, Mr. Kennedy was the first president to elevate the U.S.-Israel relationship from that of simply two allies to a more enhanced bond. Speaking to the Zionist Organization of America three months before his election, he said, “Friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter, it is a national commitment.”

Following Mr. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, he was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson, who did not share his predecessor’s interest in resolving the refugee problem. The Democratic Party Platform of 1964, the year Mr. Johnson was elected president, included a provision to “encourage the resettlement of Arab refugees in lands where there is room and opportunity.” All talk of the right of return ceased.

The Johnson administration ended in January of 1968, when former Vice President Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president. Nixon had less obligation to Israel, having earned only about 15 percent of the Jewish vote. In his memoirs, he commented on Israeli arrogance after the Six-Day War of 1967, describing “an attitude of total intransigence on negotiating any peace agreement that would involve the return of any of the territories they had occupied.”

Unfortunately for Palestine, however, Mr. Nixon’s closest advisor was Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security advisor and, later, his secretary of state. Mr. Kissinger’s parents had fled Nazi Germany shortly before the start of the Holocaust, and he had visited Israel multiple times but had never set foot in an Arab country. With Mr. Nixon’s preoccupation with what he considered the “Communist threat,” Mr. Kissinger was perfectly content with the Israel-Palestine status quo. “Rather than make any effort toward the Arab states, much less the Palestinians, Kissinger felt the United States should let them stew until they came begging to Washington,” according to “U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton,” edited by Michael W. Suleiman. With this attitude, nothing was done to further the cause of justice under this president’s terms in office.

When Mr. Nixon resigned in a fog of controversy and scandal, his vice president, Gerald Ford, became president. He served as a caretaker president until the next election, when he was defeated by Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.

Although Mr. Carter has recently become a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, this was not the case during his single term as president. He presided over the Camp David Accords, a two-track agreement that was supposed to bring peace to the Middle East. The first of the two dealt with Palestine, and nothing in it was ever achieved. The second led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

 

Reagan, Bush

After one term, Mr. Carter was defeated by former actor and California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Like Mr. Nixon before him, Mr. Reagan saw Communist threats everywhere. Fearing a Soviet stronghold on the Middle East, he determined that strengthening ties with Israel would be an excellent deterrent. In 1982, he declared that the U.S. would not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, nor would it “support annexation or permanent control by Israel.”

Following First Intifada in 1987, Mr. Reagan sent his secretary of state, George Shultz, to solve the problem. Mr. Shultz proposed a three-pronged strategy: convening an international conference; a six-month negotiation period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip; talks between Israel and Palestine to start in December 1988 to achieve the final resolution of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir immediately rejected this plan, claiming that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel and accelerating the delivery of 75 F-16 fighter jets. This was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. As Suleiman’s work noted: “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”

When Mr. Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, succeeded him for one term, the bonus to Israel continued unabated. Yet this was still not enough for Israel. Writing in The New York Times in 1991, Thomas Friedman commented on the state of relations between the U.S. and Israel during the Bush administration: “Although the Bush Administration’s whole approach to peacemaking is almost entirely based on terms dictated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Israelis nevertheless see the Bush Administration as hostile.”

 

Clinton, another Bush, Obama

Following one term, Mr. Bush was succeeded by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who surrounded himself with Zionists, including CIA Director James Woolsey and Pentagon Chief Les Aspin.

In March of 1993, following clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in both Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territories, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin closed the borders between Israel and Palestine. This had a drastic detrimental effect on the lives and basic subsistence for at least tens of thousands of Palestinians. The Clinton administration chose to look the other way as Israel perpetrated this unspeakable act of collective punishment.

The administration of George W. Bush differed little in its treatment of matters related to Israel and Palestine from those who came before it. When Hamas was elected to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006, Mr. Bush ordered a near-total ban on aid to Palestine. Noam Chomsky commented on this situation:\

“You are not allowed to vote the wrong way in a free election. That’s our concept of democracy. Democracy is fine as long as you do what we [the United States] say, but not if you vote for someone we don’t like.”

Coming into office chanting the appealing mantra of “Change we can believe in,” current President Barack Obama proved to be another in a long line of disappointments. Like his predecessors, he’s vetoed any resolutions presented at the U.N. Security Council that were critical of Israel. Incredibly, after one such veto, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice made this statement:

”We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”

Meanwhile, military aid to Israel from the U.S. continued unabated. This aid has reached nearly $4 billion annually under the Obama administration, and is likely to get another boost before Mr. Obama leaves office.

This is not unusual. According to conservative estimates, the U.S. has given Israel a staggering $138 billion in military and other aid since 1949. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the first 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, granting billions to Israel every year. Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu are currently negotiating the new deal, which the prime minister hopes will guarantee even more to the apartheid regime.

 

Change that can’t come soon enough

Even if it didn’t come with Mr. Obama, change does seem to be on the horizon. With the explosive growth of social media, the general public no longer relies solely on the corporate-owned media for information. The horrors that Israel inflicts daily on the Palestinians are becoming more common knowledge. This includes the periodic bombing of the Gaza Strip, a total blockade that prevents basic supplies from being imported, and the checkpoint stops and verbal and physical harassment that Palestinians are subjected to on a daily basis in the West Bank.

It’s even entered the current U.S. presidential election. Sen. Bernie Sanders, seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, skipped the annual American Israel Political Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, convention in March. Additionally, he said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t always right and that Israel uses disproportionate force against the Palestinians, and Mr. Sanders recognized that Palestinians have rights. Like skipping the AIPAC conference, these statements are all in violation of some unspoken U.S. code of conduct for politicians.

Yet the ugly history of the U.S., in its unspeakably unjust dealings with Palestine, created a stain that generations will be unable to cleanse. Total disdain for the human rights of an entire nation, and the complicity in the violation of international law and in the war crimes of Israel, are not easy to expunge. Mr. Sanders’ words and actions are only the manifestation of a larger change occurring in U.S. attitudes toward Israel and Palestine. Once that change is sufficiently great to impact the U.S. power brokers, real change will occur. For Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid, it cannot come soon enough.

Originally published by Mint Press News.

 

The ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’

With an election year now upon us, the unfortunate U.S. citizenry is being constantly assaulted by those who would ‘make America great again’, as if it ever was. From the Republicans, we learn that such horrors as health care for the masses and food stamps for the poor will be done away. The ability for everyone to marry the person of his or her choice, which apparently is the height of immorality, will no longer be allowed. The possibility of affordable higher education, with low-interest, government loans, is not even to be considered. And Muslims will no longer be allowed in the country because, as we all know, they are all terrorists.

On the Democratic side, things aren’t all the much better. Before the so-called ‘safety net’, the taxpayer-provided assistance to the poor and needy, can be reinforced, or before the education system can be improved, or the nation’s infrastructure repaired, one must assure that Israel has all that it wants and needs. Now this is no change from the current administration; President Barack Obama wrote all the checks Israel demanded, but he was not pleasant about it. His successor, whoever that may be, promises to jump through all the Israeli hoops with a big smile on his or her face.

The level of political discourse among the lesser gods striving for office isn’t much better. For example, this writer last lived in the U.S. in Florida, and it is there that he is registered to vote. One Alan Grayson is running for senate there, and, until recently, this writer was on his mailing list. Among the qualifications Mr. Grayson listed in numerous and nauseating emails were more than one talking about how he has more U.S. flag ties than any other member of Congress. This is not what this voter needs to make an informed decision. He wrote to the candidate several times asking for his position on the Israel-Palestine situation, but Mr. Grayson did not see fit to respond. Oh well, maybe the question was simply too difficult for him.

Let us take a moment to discuss the legendary and mythical greatness of the U.S. Did it ever exist? Is there some ‘greatness’ that current politicians could bring the country back to? The irony of bringing the U.S. ‘back’ is lost on most of the candidates, and this writer will not insult the reader by explaining it. But let us take a short trip throughout U.S. history.

The nation started with thirteen colonies rebelling against the British government. That this was a people’s movement, with wide support, is a popular story, but then again, so is the Three Little Pigs. One must as readily believe in the porcine construction of three huts as readily as the myth of the common man in the late 1700s rising up in rebellion against the Crown. A more careful look at history indicates that roughly one-third of the people living in the colonies supported the revolution; another third was loyal to Britain. The remainder vacillated; when Britain seemed to be winning, they supported Britain. When the ‘revolutionaries’ had the upper hand, they sided with them.

Regardless of how much support they had, the ‘revolutionaries’ defeated the British, and quickly began their own empire. With an entire continent, rich in natural resources, the opportunity for untold wealth was unlimited. So what if several million natives lived on the land? What right did they have to it? The slaughter of the Native Americans began long before the country was established, but became policy once the Revolutionary War ended. Countless millions of native men, women and children were brutally killed, driven from their lands and exploited in unspeakable ways as ‘democracy’ roared across the continent.

As lands were cleared of Native villages that had existed from time immemorial, cotton became a popular product. Unfortunately, there simply weren’t enough people willing to pick it, at least not at wages that plantation owners wanted to pay. So how did the ‘great’ United States resolve this problem? Well, why not sail to the African continent, kidnap millions of people, and force them to do the work? ‘Yankee ingenuity’ at its best! These people were not white, and so in the view of the enlightened and ‘great’ United States, affirmed by the Supreme Court, they weren’t quite human. They could be bought or sold, treated worse than dogs, and forced to labor long hours under horrendous conditions. Countless thousands died en route to the U.S., and their bodies were simply thrown overboard. Never mind how this might have impacted the parents or children of the deceased; these were not people, but simply commodities. If a sack of potatoes went bad on board, simply throw it over! Black kidnap victims were viewed the same way.

As the years progressed into decades, and the decades into centuries, things weren’t much better. In their turn, Chinese workers, the Irish, Italians, Catholics, Mormons, Jews and many others were exploited, discriminated against, harassed, beaten and killed, simply because they were Chinese, Irish, etc.

Fast forward to Pearl Harbor and World War II. Concentration camps in the U.S. for Japanese citizens were mandated; many of these citizens lost their homes and businesses, simply because they were Japanese. During this time, anyone who might be considered a threat to national security was sifted out of the great melting pot, and the Japanese felt the brunt of this particular injustice.

We will do no more than mention the slaughter of Filipinos during the Philippine-American War, or the horrific massacre of over 2,000,000 Vietnamese during that tragic, imperial misadventure. Nor will we dwell on the dehumanization and murders of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis at the start of the new millennium. All part of U.S. ‘greatness’.

Today, little has really changed. Young, unarmed and defenseless Black men serve as target practice for police officers, often trained by one of the most savage and brutal armies in the world, that of Israel. Why police officers, who are supposed to ‘serve and protect’, must receive military training, and be equipped with vehicles appropriate for an invasion, is puzzling, unless one considers that the powers that be have every intention of staying exactly where they are, and instilling fear in the populace is an excellent tool for accomplishing that goal. And what passes for the justice system in the U.S. allows murderous police officers to escape any penalty for their crimes.

Muslims suffer persecutions that would be headline news if they happened to any other group. One can only imagine the response in the mainstream media, and the highest offices in the land, if a group of armed Muslims surrounded a church or synagogue during services.

The U.S. provides billions upon billions of dollars to Israel, whose Prime Minister refers to Palestinians as beasts. The U.S. government persecutes those who would shed light on its crimes, condemning whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden. And it glorifies such mass murderers as sniper Chris Kyle.

Yet we are told we should vote for a senate candidate with several U.S. flag ties, and a presidential candidate who made a small fortune speaking to Goldman Sachs, but will not reveal what it is she said. The Supreme Court has allowed unlimited corporate donations to candidates; one is naïve indeed if one thinks those corporations are buying power for the good of the people. A quotation, thought to have originated with John Maynard Keynes, is this: “Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all”. Former President Ronald Reagan’s ‘trickle down’ economics was the embodiment of this, and that practice hasn’t changed much since the Reagan years.

The average worker in the U.S. is required to work a certain number of hours a week; he/she is generally responsible for creating some kind of artifact: computer code, documentation, report, a physical product, a lesson plan, etc. A few weeks of paid vacation are usually offered with the employment. There may be other benefits: medical insurance, bonuses, etc. If the number of days off taken exceeds the vacation or sick time allowed, the worker’s pay is forfeited for that time. Excessive absences may result in termination of employment.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are under no such constraints. The can work as many or as few hours as they choose, and even the required number of days is not onerous. In 2014, Congress was scheduled to be in session about 133 days; the average, non-Congressional worker (e.g. you and me), works about 240. And many of them spend much of their work time looking for a new job: campaigning for the presidency, senate, or other role seen as more powerful than their current one, or simply raising money for their next campaign.

This is the great United States; this is the sacred union that is the ‘envy’ of the world, according to its Congressional cheerleaders.

The history of the United States is over two hundred years of blood, exploitation and oppression. The November election will cause nothing to change.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Delegates, Democrats and Democracy

The United States is slowly lumbering towards the big show of its rather perverse version of democracy. Every four years, wealthy egomaniacs announce their candidacy for the presidency, and thus begins the long and torturous route to the White House. ‘Tortuous’, for each candidate, who must sell his or her soul to the highest bidder, change policy pronouncements depending on the audience, accept endorsements from individuals and organizations that a snake would be ashamed to associate with, and somehow manage to look him/herself in the mirror. The farce is ‘torturous’ for any informed individual (a decreasing lot, it seems, in the U.S.) who wants to make a rational decision, and vote for someone that is better described than simply ‘the lesser of two evils’.

One looks today at the Republican Party, and sees a circus clown performing his bumbling tricks for the pleasure and enjoyment of his racist, sexist, xenophobic and Islamophopic followers. And yet Donald Trump, former reality-television star and thrice-married billionaire is the current front-runner for the nomination.

But nipping at his heals like the snarling mad dog he seems to resemble, is none other than Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Despised by his senate colleagues, the powers-that-be in the GOP seem to be embracing him, however tenuously, in order to stem a potential electoral train wreck, which is the general expectation should Mr. Trump be the nominee. Not only would almost anyone defeat him, even the cold, calculating Hillary Clinton (more on her later), but Mr. Trump heading the ticket could easily deliver the Senate and House of Representatives back into the hands of the Democratic Party.

So let us look at the candidates of the oddly-named Democratic Party, and at the party itself. Nominating a presidential candidate isn’t quite the straightforward process one might expect: in a purer form of democracy, voters would elect delegates to represent their candidate at the nominating convention. For example, if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wins 70% of the vote in, let’s say, the state of Washington, it would be expected that 70% of the delegates from that state going to the convention would vote for him.

But no, that is not how ‘democracy’ works in the Democratic Party. The party has what it calls ‘superdelegates’, party bigwigs who can vote at the convention for whomsoever they choose. There is a reason for this strange rule; it was clearly stated by Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Said she: “Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists”.

Well, there you are. Kingmakers will still be kingmakers, after they have given the little people the illusion that they are participating in the democratic process. As early as October of 2015, the former secretary of state had locked up hundreds of these ‘superdelegates’. By November, before any primaries or caucuses had been held, it is estimated that she already had secured about 15% of the required delegates. Wasn’t there some president who once said something about “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” not perishing from the earth? Oh, right; Abraham Lincoln, but that was a long time ago. And look what happened to him, anyway.

As of this writing, Mrs. Clinton has 469 superdelegates pledged to her; Mr. Sanders, 31. Yet the total of elected delegates is much closer: Mrs. Clinton has 1,279, and Mr. Sanders, 1,027.

Those ‘grassroots activists’ of which Ms. Wasserman-Schultz is so disdainful are not taking this sitting down. Washington Congressman Rick Larsen, pledged to support Mrs. Clinton, sent out a ‘Happy Easter’ message to his constituents. Some, in reply, told him to enjoy what will be his last Easter in office. Mr. Larsen responded thusly to one of his constituents: “I am supporting Secretary Clinton regardless of how people characterize it. She will be our best foot forward this fall and be the best President of all the candidates.” So the people speak, but those with power don’t listen.

These superdelegates are not only thwarting the will of the people, they are supporting a candidate who represents the very worst of the 1%. Wealthy herself, she has refused to disclose what she told to her Goldman-Sachs audience, one that paid her $600,000 for her pearls of wisdom. One can only imagine how pleasing her words must have been to them, since they were worth such a large sum of money.

One of the staples of the Democratic Party platform is unqualified support for Israel, increasingly denounced throughout the world as a brutal apartheid regime, yet called by the U.S., ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’. Once again, we see that the Democratic Party has either very little understanding of the term ‘democracy’, or very little regard for the intelligence of the voters.

Israel, with separate laws for Jewish-Israelis and non-Jewish-Israelis, with illegal occupation, extrajudicial executions of men, women and children, with numerous, continuing violations of international law, is a democracy in the eyes of the Democratic Party. And there are no sacrifices the U.S. won’t make for its Middle Eastern, ‘democratic’ counterpart. Two sentences from the 2012 platform say it all:

“President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to

Israel’s security. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years.”

Note the phrase, ‘despite budgetary constraints’. It is apparently acceptable to cut food stamps, leave Detroit to go bankrupt, watch the infrastructure deteriorate and see public school students’ accomplishments fall far behind their international peers, as long as Israel gets its billions from the U.S. taxpayer. One would think that U.S. tax dollars should go to U.S. citizens. But no, for the Democrats (and certainly the Republicans) it is better to go to Israel.

So, one might ask: ‘where is democracy in the Democratic Party?’. Certainly not in the nominating process, and, it appears, not in the party platform, which is the heart and soul of the party.

This is not to imply that, while deficient with the Democrats, democracy is the foundation and backbone of the Republican Party. This is hardly the case for the party that makes no bones about ruling the world through violence; the Democrats, wishing to accomplish the same thing, simply cast those words in more politically-correct terminology.

The tiresome primary session drags on. Mr. Sanders’ enthusiastic voters and volunteers naively believe that if only Mr. Sanders can keep winning primaries, he will be the Democratic nominee. How sweet and child-like! They have not learned yet that the performance is made up of actors playing their roles; it is almost interactive theatre, where the audience has some participation, but the conclusion is foregone before the curtain is raised.

And in the tragic-comedy of U.S. elections, it seems that each year becomes more desperate then the last. This writer wishes the voters luck in determining this year who is, in fact, the lesser of two evils. For his part, he will vote for a third-party candidate. Any Republican or Democrat who wins will be a disaster for the world, and he wants no part in installing such a resident in the White House.

Originally printed on Counterpunch.

The United States and Israel: ‘Shared Values’

This is a presidential election year in the United States, and every campaign for the presidency requires all candidates to bow down to Israel.
We hear proclamations of how closely the security of Israel is tied to the security of the United States, with no explanation of why that is. We are constantly being told that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, regardless of one set of laws for Jewish Israelis, and separate, discriminatory laws for non-Jewish Israelis living there.
The ‘fact’ that Israel is the US’s only ‘friend’ in the Middle East is repeated constantly, without any reminder that, before the existence of Israel, the US had no enemies in that part of the world. Neither are we told that the US’s only ‘friend’ in the Middle East receives more money in foreign aid from the US than all other countries combined.
Let US cities go bankrupt, while Tel Aviv flourishes; charge astronomical interest rates to US university students, while Israeli students pay a nominal fee for tuition, room and board; provide Israel with the most sophisticated and deadly armaments on the planet, some of them illegal under international law, while the nation Israel brutally oppresses is used as a testing ground for them. Even Democratic candidate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, while offering a tepid criticism of Israel, made these same proclamations. And we never cease to hear of the ‘shared values’ between the US and Israel.
Perhaps it is time to take a closer look at these ‘shared values’; by doing so, we can see that the two nations do, indeed share many of the same ‘values.’

Racism

In the United States, young, unarmed Black men serve as target practice for the mainly white police force. They are shot multiple times, at point-blank range, when unarmed and unthreatening. Seldom is a police officer charged with any crime for shooting and killing such a victim, whether the victim is an adult or a minor, male or female. That is the justice system in the US. This is now so commonplace that it is hardly even reported anymore.
In Israel, young, unarmed Palestinians serve the same function for the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and illegal settlers (a redundant term, since all settlers are illegal).  They are shot to death when unarmed and unthreatening in any way, sometimes in the back. Such shootings have even been captured on video camera, eliminating any need for eye-witness accounts. Yet seldom, if ever, is an IDF soldier or a settler charged with a crime. Even when a soldier shoots, in the head, a wounded, immobile, unarmed Palestinian, the nation rallies around the soldier and proclaims him a hero, as the government says the shooting was justified.

‘Might makes right’

United States: The US probably invented this concept as its power grew over the centuries. When any international conflict arises, rather than working through diplomatic channels to resolve it, bombing always seems to be the preferred method. The countries that the US has bombed, invaded, destabilised or otherwise violently interfered with are too numerous to mention here, but a short list will be provided of those so victimised since the middle of the last century:
    • Syria – 1949, 2014 – present.
    • Iran – 1953
    • Guatemala – 1954
    • Tibet – 1955
    • Indonesia – 1958
    • Cuba – 1959 – 2016
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo – 1960 -1965
    • South Vietnam – 1963 – 1973
    • Brazil – 1964
    • Ghana – 1966
    • Chile – 1970 – 1973
    • Afghanistan – 1979 – 1989; 2003 – present.
    • Turkey – 1980
    • Poland – 1980 – 1981
    • Nicaragua – 1981 – 1990
    • Cambodia – 1980
    • Angola – 1980s
    • Philippines – 1986
    • Iraq – 1992 – 1996 – 2002
    • Venezuela – 2002
    • Palestinian territories – 2006 – present
    • Yemen – 2002 – Present
Israel: In Israel, IDF soldiers use what by any definition is excessive force to quell rock-throwing by Palestinians. It has also assassinated nuclear scientists in Iran, bombed US warships, and brutally and criminally invaded Palestine numerous times, a nation that it occupies in violation of international law.

Selective use of law

United States: In late 2002, the United Nations, pushed by the US, found Iraq to be in violation of one UN resolution. With this as an excuse, the US invaded Iraq, causing untold death, destruction and suffering, not to mention a huge increase in hostility toward the US. Yet Israel, in violation of dozens of UN resolutions, receives constant, unwavering support from the US.
Israel: For its part, Israel condemns rock-throwing by Palestinians, who have an internationally-recognised right to resist occupation. When three illegal settlers were found murdered in 2014, Israel condemned the violence. But when an illegal settler burned a Palestinian infant to death, this was not seen as an act of terrorism, and only minor charges were laid. Additionally, during a recent increase in attacks on Israelis by Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel responded with deadly force, condemning the violence, while ignoring the ongoing, daily, deadly violence perpetrated against Palestinians by Israeli settlers and soldiers, all in violation of international law.

Global Hypocrisy

United States: US spokespeople, from the president on down to local governmental politicians, all talk about democracy, the absolute right for people to decide on their own who should govern them, and the sacredness of liberty. Yet this same government overthrows democratically-elected governments that it disagrees with. One example, among many, occurred in Chile. Salvador Allende was democratically elected in 1970, but the US could not countenance a Marxist as the president there. As a result, it supported radical, right-wing groups which eventually led to the overthrow of Mr Allende, who was replaced by General Augusto Pinochet. With his ascent to power, democratic rule in Chile ended after 41 years, and tens of thousands of his opponents were kidnapped, tortured and murdered. But this rule, in the view of the United States, was preferable than that of Mr Allende.
Israel: Politicians in Israel forever talk about their desire for peace, as they continue to steal Palestinian land; imprison, torture and kill innocent Palestinian men, women and children, and then call all opposition to this brutality ‘anti-Semitic’, and a threat to the existence of Israel. These politicians are always fearful of ‘existential’ threats to Israel, as they slowly destroy all that remains of Palestine.
There was a time when people believed that the Republican Party represented the wishes of business and the wealthy; the Democratic Party was seen as the voice of the common, working man and woman. If this was ever true, and that is questionable, at the very least, it is certainly not the case today. In 2012, a ‘voice vote’ was held at the Democratic convention to address a few issues, including whether or not the Party should recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, something omitted from the 2008 platform, and opposed by the international community.
The voice vote was held by participants being asked to shout either ‘aye’ or ‘no’; a two-thirds majority is required. How one can estimate that from a voice vote is beyond the understanding of this writer. Regardless, after holding three such ‘votes’, the convention chair, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, determined that the ‘aye’ votes had registered more than two-thirds, and the motion passed. The crowd present vocally expressed its disapproval. A truly democratic vote would have provided ballots on which the participants could record their votes, and which could then be counted. But the convention chair, who has visited Israel multiple times, and often expressed support for Israel, announced that the motion had carried.
So, let us summarise: shared ‘values’ include deadly violence; violation of international law; selective use of law, and global hypocrisy. It also seems to mean the refusal to recognise reality. Around the world, more and more people are recognising that Israel is an apartheid regime, and are taking steps to oppose it. This is seen at the ‘grass-roots’ level, as the ‘Boycott, Divest and Sanction’ movement gains power, and at the national level as more and more nations vote to recognise Palestine, and demand that Israel adhere to international law. The US and Israel become increasingly isolated in the court of public opinion, and the facade that each attempts to present is quickly dissolving.
While none of this increased awareness changes the facts on the ground for Palestinians today, it all bodes well for the future. Generations yet unborn will demand to know why Israeli apartheid was allowed to continue for so long. This writer, for one, will be unable to provide them with a satisfactory answer.
– See more at: http://www.daysofpalestine.com/features/united-states-israel-shared-values/#sthash.AVmphjZu.dpuf

“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

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.