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Omar Khadr, Canada and $10,000,000

The Canadian Government has awarded Omar Khadr, who spent ten years in the United States’ Cuban-based torture chamber, the sum of $10.5 million dollars. There is, among the right wing, a great hue and cry over this alleged ‘injustice’. After all, wasn’t Mr. Khadr fighting against a Canadian ally? Didn’t he confess to killing a U.S. soldier? Cue the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

 Although not often done in political climes, looking at the facts can be a very helpful exercise. So, we will look at a few.

1. Mr. Khadr was 15-years-old when he was badly injured by U.S. soldiers. According to international law (that old thing), a 15-year-old in any military is a child soldier, and cannot be charged with any crime. Once Mr. Khadr was injured, his injuries should have been treated immediately (they weren’t), and he should have then been returned to Canada.

2. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan. If any country invaded the U.S., those opposing the invasion would be seen as heroes. People in Afghanistan who were fighting the invading forces should be seen in that light.

3. Regarding ‘confessing’ to killing a U.S. soldier, after years of unspeakable torture, one will confess to anything. And what did Mr. Khadr experience in Guantanamo? The following is just some of what the U.S. did to him. Remember, too that he had two gunshot wounds in his chest, multiple broken bones, and shrapnel splattered all over his body, which cost him the sight in one eye. His torture began immediately he regained consciousness, about a week after he was injured, at the Bagram air base, where he was detained. He was:

  • Tied to a fence with his hands tied high above his head; due to his injuries, raising his hands at all was extremely painful;
  • Tied up with a bag secured tightly around his head, making breathing difficult, as attack dogs snarled and growled at him from inches away;
  • Forced, despite, or perhaps because of, his injuries, to pile heavy water bottles together. Once he finished the task, his torturers knocked over the pile, and forced him to re-pile them.

4. Mr. Khadr was then transferred to Guantanamo, where the torture continued. One example, the shocking ‘mop incident’, of what he experienced, will suffice. The ‘mop incident’ involves the guards pulling Mr. Khadr’s arms and legs behind into a  so-called ‘bow’ position, causing his limbs to strain painfully at their sockets. It is not unusual for victims to pass out from the pain this causes. Over a period of many hours, the guards contorted Mr. Khadr into different, painful positions. Eventually, he urinated himself. The guards then poured pine-oil solvent all over his body and began dragging him by his feet through the mixture of urine and pine oil. They swung him around, the urine and solvent washing up into his face, using him as a human mop. When they were done, they brought him back to his cell, but did not allow him a change of clothes for two days.

5. Who, exactly, was responsible for the death of the invading U.S. soldier is up for debate. There are strong indicators that the grenade that killed him was U.S. made. Was he killed by ‘friendly fire’, that bizarre euphemism meaning accidental killing of soldiers by their fellow-soldiers? Or is it possible that a 15-year-old boy had the presence of mind and the lightening reflexes, in the middle of a desperate battle, to grab a grenade thrown near him by the invading soldiers, and fling it back out at them? If that’s the case, self-preservation and self-defense seem to be valid reasons.

6. U.S. behavior during Mr. Khadr’s entire, illegal incarceration was condemned by the United Nations and the international community.

There has been some discussion that the widow of Christopher Speer, the soldier allegedly killed by Mr. Khadr, could possibly sue him for some of the money he has been awarded. This would certainly be an interesting precedent. Could the survivors of all people killed by U.S. soldiers then sue the soldiers for some compensation? The U.S. would be bankrupt in no time.

Also, Mr. Speer was not a child when he enlisted. He was not defending his homeland; he was invading someone else’s.  While one mourns any death, and feels sorry for the survivors, Mr. Speer voluntarily put himself in a life-threatening position, and paid with his life for that decision.

Mr. Khadr was a child, under the care of adults who were defending their homeland, in a situation not of his own making.

For the first time since he was injured, Mr. Khadr is finally experiencing justice. After a decade of torture at the hands of ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’, abetted by his own country, Canada, he is finally getting some compensation. $10 million isn’t enough, but there simply isn’t enough money to compensate someone who has experienced such barbaric cruelty and unspeakable suffering. It is hoped that Mr. Khadr will be able to use this money to enable him to have a comfortable life, obtaining the counseling he certainly requires due to his victimization, working in his chosen career, and raising a family. This writer wishes him all the best.

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

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Qatar and Saudi Arabia: Trump Adds Fuel to the Fire     

As if there weren’t enough crises in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emeritus have broken diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar. This, they claim, is because of Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Iran. This action has been endorsed by United States President Donald Trump, who signaled his support in typical fashion, by  ‘Tweet’.

Perhaps we can look at the objections that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the U.S. have against Qatar.

  • Alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood. This organization dates back to 1928. “Founded by Hassan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood – or al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun in Arabic – has influenced Islamist movements around the world with its model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work.” It supports moving away from secularism, and following the teachings of the Quran. In recent years, the brotherhood has taken a far more activist role in politics, and, although denouncing violence, some offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood have been linked to various attacks.

One would not condemn Christianity, because some so-called Christian groups bomb abortion clinics.  The entire Jewish population should not be condemned because of Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. Yet is seems acceptable to condemn the Muslim Brotherhood for the actions of some violent wing of that organization.

  • Support for Hamas. The U.S. and several other countries have decreed Hamas to be a ‘terrorist’ organization. How the U.S. can so designate anyone, when its long history of terrorism is certainly the worst in world history, is a mystery to this writer. Hamas is the democratically-elected government of Palestine’s Gaza Strip. It is no wonder the people of Gaza elected Hamas over Fatah, the U.S. and Israel-supported puppet government of the West Bank. Hamas promised jobs, and real aid, promises it delivered on until blocked by Fatah ‘leader’ Mamoud Abbas. Saudi Arabia and the UAE claim that Qatar support for Hamas is one of the reasons for its current actions against Qatar. Apparently, supporting an organization that is duly elected, and seeks to genuinely work for the people who elected it, cannot be countenanced.
  • And last, but not least, we get to Qatar’s alleged support for Iran. In February, U.S. Secretary of Defense, one James Mattis, made this most puzzling statement: “As far as Iran goes, this is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.” He said this, with a straight face, even as the country he represents was bombing six countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen). Iran, of course, is not bombing anyone. Is not dropping bombs on innocent people the greatest form of terrorism there is?

Well, let’s put that aside for a minute. The U.S. funds and trains terrorist groups in Syria, including the White Helmets. Is this not ‘state sponsored’ terrorism?

And we could look along the terrorism spectrum, with the U.S. being at the extreme end, with its constant bombing of countries, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children, and Iran being at the other end, basically attempting to serve its people and prepare to protect them from foreign invasion. What other nations may fall somewhere along that continuum? Well, Israel comes to mind as a nation close to the U.S. It brutally occupies Palestine, killing and terrorizing innocent Palestinian men, women and children with complete impunity. Its IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers (read: terrorists) are just as brutal when confronting Israelis who support Palestinian human rights. And every few years, Israel decides to ‘mow the lawn’, carpet-bombing the Gaza Strip, often referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison.

And where might Saudi Arabia fall on this continuum? It will be grouped with the U.S. and Israel, due at least to its bombing of Yemen.

And why is Iran at the other end of this spectrum? The last time Iran attacked a country was in 1798. Yes, that is not a typographical error; it was 219 years ago.

We will now take a moment to view Mr. Trump’s 140 character analysis of this situation. In his elegant, erudite manner, he wrote this: “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” Well, there you are. Yet Mr. Trump is funding terrorist groups attempting to overthrow the government of Syria. Perhaps those ‘leaders’ should have been pointing to Mr. Trump.

And what is the source of all this? It was a speech that the Qatari ruler was said to have made that indicated support for Iran. U.S. news outlets now state that the report was false, and was planted by Russian intelligence.

During the Cold War, there was a Russian Communist believed to be hiding under every bed in the United States. Today, it seems, any diplomatic crisis can be tracked, at least by the U.S., to Russia. It isn’t surprising that U.S. intelligence would perceive this, since that is the way it operates, supporting rebel groups, planting false stories, and undermining governments, democratically-elected or not, which don’t meet some capitalist standard that the U.S. demands. And in the Middle East, any nation that opposes the sacred cow of Israel, as Iran does, must be thwarted.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Waleed al-Modallal, head of political science at the Islamic Unviersity of Gaza, commented on the currently controversy. “The pressure on Qatar is not to do with Hamas, but it’s the fact that it is a successful state that tries to engage in dialogue and it has been very successful in solving issues in the region.” Further, he said: “Qatar is a small country playing a big role in the region. That is what seems to have angered the bigger countries nearby.”

Yes, it seems that only the U.S. and Israel, aided and abetted by Saudi Arabia, can call the shots in the Middle East. Any other country trying to usurp that authority must pay a price.

What will come of this? Will a peaceful outcome be assured, due to the cool heads that prevail in the international arena today? Hardly! Although Israel isn’t directly, or at least publicly, involved, one can be sure that its Prime Murderer, Benjamin Netanyahu, is anxiously awaiting the raining down of U.S. bombs on Iran. And Mr. Trump is such a wild card, that what he’ll do next is anyone’s guess.

All this has little or nothing to do with anything Qatar’s leaders may or may not have said. As indicated by Mr. al-Modallal, It’s all jockeying for position in a roiling Middle East, where Iran remains a powerhouse, but Israel, aligned with Saudi Arabia, has nuclear weapons. With Zionists in control in the U.S., Iran must be ‘neutralized’, so Israel can remain supreme.

It is as obvious that Donald Trump is playing with matches while sitting on a powder keg, as it is that he is oblivious to that perilous fact. While no one can predict with accuracy what may occur, the outcome is sure to bring more suffering to millions of innocent people. For the U.S., that is business as usual.

Originally printed by the American Herald Tribune.

 

 

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Trump, Salman and Netanyahu: The Match Made in Hell

As United States President Donald Trump struts his limited stuff across the international stage, his ‘accomplishments’ during this tour will benefit no one but the wealthy elites at home and abroad.

Let us look first at his time in Saudi Arabia, and what that means for the U.S. and the Middle East.

The reality-tv-star-turned-president signed a $100 million dollar weapons deal with the Saudi kingdom. If anyone in power in the U.S. would like to look closely at this, he/she would find that this deal is, in all likelihood, illegal. It seems that Mr. Trump and Congress should be reminded of the U.S. law referred to as the Leahy law; it is described thusly:

The “Leahy law vetting is a process through which the U.S. government vets U.S. assistance to foreign security forces, as well as Department of Defense training programs, to ensure that recipients have not committed gross human rights abuses.  When the vetting process uncovers credible evidence that an individual or unit has committed a gross violation of human rights, U.S. assistance is withheld, consistent with U.S. law and policy.  This obligation to vet foreign security forces can be found in section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA).”

So, based on Mr. Trump’s action, one would think that Saudi Arabia does not commit “gross human rights abuses”. A look at a report from Human Rights Watch about Saudi Arabia is instructive:

“Through 2016 the Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued an aerial campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen that included numerous unlawful airstrikes that killed and injured thousands of civilians. Saudi authorities also continued their arbitrary arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents. Dozens of human rights defenders and activists continued to serve long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms. Authorities continued to discriminate against women and religious minorities.”

Well, what’s a little crime against humanity when $100 million is on the table? And what a benefit to those holding stock in the so-called U.S. ‘defense’ industry! A report in Moneywatch from May 22 of this year is headlined: ‘U.S. Defense Stocks Jump on Saudi Arms Deal’. The article is very clear: “Investors hailed President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia by boosting the share prices of major U.S. defense contractors. Their stocks advanced on Monday in the wake of announcements of arms sales to the kingdom that could be worth $109 billion over the next decade, one of the largest-ever deals of its kind.”

The article continues with rather puzzling information: “The Saudi Arabian deal could lead to additional sales for both Israel and the Persian Gulf countries, all of which are concerned with Iran’s aggressive foreign policy and its support for terrorist groups in the region.”

Now, this simple statement requires further study. We will break it down to its component parts and attempt to make sense of it.

  • The deal could lead to additional sales for Israel.

Once again, perhaps we could consider the Leahy Law, referenced above, and see just what Human Rights Watch has to say about Israel: “Israel continued in 2016 to enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights, to facilitate the transfer of Israeli civilians to the occupied West Bank, and to severely restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip.” There is more, but for our purposes today, this will suffice.

  • Israel and surrounding countries, according to the Moneywatch article, “are concerned with Iran’s aggressive foreign policy and its support for terrorist groups in the region.”

If we are to talk about ‘aggressive foreign policy’, perhaps we should point out that the U.S. is currently bombing six countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. Its minions are causing tremendous unrest and suffering in Venezuela. It might also be worth noting that, since World War II, the United States has either invaded or intentionally destabilized at least thirty-three (33) countries, including Angola, Argentina, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tibet, Turkey and Vietnam. Some of these countries have been invaded by the U.S. more than once in that time. This doesn’t include Palestine, which the U.S. has only bombed by proxy, by giving Israel the weaponry and the permission (cover at the United Nations) to bomb that country.

We should also not forget that the U.S. is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, bombing two, heavily-populated cities in Japan that had no military importance. Hundreds of thousands died, some instantly, and other later, as a result of the horrific injuries they suffered.

And as far as support for terrorist groups is concerned, the U.S. military can be seen as the biggest, most powerful and most dangerous terrorist group in the world. And there is ample evidence to suggest that the U.S. initiated ISIS, and supports groups that actually fight each other.

We would look at the list of countries that Iran has invaded since World War II, but there are none to see. So any ‘fear’ of Iran’s ‘aggressive foreign policy’ is being invented by the U.S. to sell weaponry, and to help Israel maintain military superiority in the Middle East.

 

We will now turn to Israel, and the president’s short visit there. Certainly, there can be no doubt that Mr. Trump is an adoring Zionist, willing to kiss the feet of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. He has proclaimed that he can make a ‘deal’, settling the ‘conflict’ between Israel and Palestine. He never refers to ‘occupation’, ‘human rights’ or ‘international law’ in the context of this ‘conflict’.

But, significantly, prior to his visit, he back-tracked on one of his main Zionist promises, the vow to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This may be because the only other nation on the planet that supports such a move is Israel, and it is vehemently opposed by everyone else. It appears that even the immature, narcissist Mr. Trump can be prevailed upon when the opposition is strong enough.

Nothing of any significance was done in Israel, either helpful or detrimental to Palestinians. What Mr. Trump may have said to the Israeli Prime Murderer, about compromising Israeli intelligence during his meetings with Russian diplomats, is unknown, although he has denied ever having done any such thing. The confusion by his staff over where the Western Wall is located, Israel or Palestine (it’s in Palestine), did not sit particularly well with his apartheid hosts. And his sunny optimism about brokering a deal was generally dismissed as the nonsense that it is.

If Mr. Trump has any thoughts in his rather limited brain, he must realize that the controversies he left behind in Washington, D.C. will still be there when he returns. He will dismiss them, no doubt, and talk about his successful visits to the Middle East and the Vatican (heaven only knows what he and the most progressive pope in centuries will have to talk about).

To summarize: one of the world’s most egregious  violators of human rights has struck an historic weapons deal with another one, the U.S.; no discussion of those human rights abuses is known to have occurred. Israel hosted the U.S. president, but nothing of substance, other than a strengthening of the ‘special relationship’ the U.S. has with that apartheid nation, was accomplished. And next stop is with a religious leader who has condemned war and capitalism, two of Mr. Trump’s disreputable gods.

Much as one would like to see Mr. Trump leave office, the thought of his vice-president, the Zionist, Christian-right conservative MikePence taking the reins, is, perhaps, even more frightening.

What happens next in foreign or domestic policy remains to be seen, but the indications are not favorable for any but the ruling elite.

Originally published in The American Herald Tribune.

 

 

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Israel will Continue Occupying Palestine, Trump Made Abbas Sure

On May 3, Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli-U.S. puppet who is the figurehead leader of the Palestinian Authority, met with his secondary puppet-master, U.S. President Donald Trump. What he promised in exchange for nothing is yet to be seen. At present he is working to undermine Hamas, the elected government of the Gaza Strip. He has refused to allow the construction of a desperately-needed power plant that even apartheid Israel approved, and is paying government employees in the Gaza Strip not to go to work, in an effort to cause dissatisfaction with Hamas. This is typical U.S. methodology: stir up trouble and discontent in the populace, and assist in the eventual overthrow of the government. The U.S. has done this successfully, with tragic consequences in terms of human life and violations of human rights, countless times.

One of the things Mr. Abbas seeks to accomplish is the disarmament of the Gaza Strip. The West Bank is basically without weapons, and the death toll of defenseless Palestinians there is constantly increasing. This isn’t surprising since it is occupied by the heavily-armed IDF (Israel Defense Forces) terrorists and settler-terrorists, who believe that Palestinians are not human, and should have no rights whatsoever. And this is the vision Mr. Abbas seems to have for the Gaza Strip.

Congress has also set its sights on Palestine, with pending legislation to deny, as usual, the $300 million that it annually budgets for that nation. Congress wants to assure that none of it goes to the families of Palestinians who kill Israelis.

Now, let’s look at this for just a moment. The U.S. gives Israel $4 billion a year, more than thirteen times the amount it budgets for, but usually doesn’t give, to Palestine.  And it is committed to that $4 billion for the next ten years. With much of it, Israel purchases, often from the U.S., the most advanced weaponry on the planet. It periodically tests that weaponry on Palestinians. And it doesn’t hesitate to use chemical weapons.

That money also goes to provide trucks which spray raw sewerage on homes and schools in the West Bank. It funds IDF terrorists breaking into the homes of Palestinians at all hours of the day and night, ransacking them and arresting any and all males over the age of 10.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham is a key sponsor of this bill. The good senator is silent about Israeli atrocities against Palestinians; he says nothing about the blatant, shocking and constant violations of the basic human rights of the Palestinians, and doesn’t seem to care at all about international law, which condemns the occupation, and recognizes Palestine’s and Israel’s borders as those that were mandated by the United Nations in 1948 (the legality of that action is a topic for another essay). One can’t help but wonder if Mr. Graham isn’t just a tad influenced by the $391,200.00 that pro-Israel lobbies contributed to his campaigns between 2010 and 2016. Could he be looking at the situation in Palestine through green-colored glasses?

When Israeli Sergeant Elor Azaria was convicted of murdering a wounded Palestinian, lying immobile on the ground, he received a sentence of 18 months. Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu said he supported a pardon for Mr. Azaria, and surveys indicated that two-thirds of Israelis agreed with him. Yet Palestinian teenagers convicted of throwing stones at IDF terrorists are often sentenced to 15 years in Israeli prisons. Mr. Graham has been silent about this travesty.

One would like to point out, not only to the head-in-the-sand senator from South Carolina, but to the rest of the U.S. so-called governing body, including the illustrious former reality television star who now occupies the White House, that Palestine is occupied by Israel, and according to international law, an occupied people has the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. While U.S. elected officials decry any Palestinian violence, they are silent about Israeli violence. Not satisfied with ignoring international law, and condemning violent measures to achieve justice, they also condemn peaceful ones, with their futile attempt to outlaw the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement.

And into all this comes Mr. Abbas, doing the bidding of his Israeli and U.S. masters, making his photo-op appearance at the White House, where he was lectured by President Donald Trump on the need for civility and, of course, negotiations.

This writer will once again point out the obvious: negotiations can only be successful when each party has something that the other wants, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes whatever it wants from Palestine – land, water, other natural resources – with complete impunity. How can ‘negotiations’ ever be successful when one party gets whatever it wants without them? Yet Congress, and countless presidents, have all encouraged this farce for decades.

Perhaps Mr. Abbas will meet with Vice President Mike Pence, a born-again Christian in the most evangelical of evangelic modes. There he will be lectured on the Christian Right’s bizarre interpretation of the Bible, and will be told that Israel is entitled to Palestine, because ‘God said so’.

This writer is a Christian, involved in the religion he joined decades ago as a young adult. He is well versed in the Bible. He recognizes that that sacred book is not meant to govern nations; if it were, atheists would be stoned along with adulterers (which would result in many vacancies in the halls of Congress, not to mention the White House), slavery would be legal, and all businesses would be closed on Sundays, so those who work in them would be spared execution.

So what will Mr. Abbas accomplish? The same thing he usually does, which is to further the occupation at the expense of the people he supposedly represents. And as he does so, Israel will steal more land, oppress and kill more Palestinians, and work to obliterate that beleaguered nation from existence. The world must not allow it to happen.

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Trump, AIPAC and the United Nations

Since Donald Trump became president of the United States, it may be an exaggeration to say that all hell has broken loose, but, then again, it may not be. The dismal education system in the U.S. is at risk of deteriorating further, under the direction of a wealthy Trump donor who knows nothing about public education. Regulations protecting the environment are already being eliminated. The Republicans are desperately trying to deprive 21 million people of health care, thus fulfilling one of their more bizarre campaign promises. And white supremacy has become fashionable again, strutting its stuff after remaining mainly (although not entirely) closeted for decades.

Officially-sanctioned U.S. racism, however, isn’t limited to the boundaries of the country. No, under Mr. Trump, it is being enshrined in the United Nations.  The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, one Nikki Haley, blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to lead the U.N.’s Libya mission. In her elegant way, she explained the decision at the recent AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) convention: “So when they decided to try and put a Palestinian in one of the highest positions that had ever been given at the UN, we said no and we had him booted out.” She continued: “That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a nice man; that doesn’t mean he wasn’t good to America.” No, the fact that he was Palestinian disqualified him from that role, at least in the eyes of the august ambassador,.

Hot on the heels of that action, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanded that a carefully documented report on Israeli apartheid be removed from the official U.N. website. This wasn’t, he hastened to say, due to any criticism of the content. No, it was because it had not gone through the proper channels before being posted.  Rima Khalaf, head of the U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), resigned rather than remove the document herself.

Now, when Mr. Guterres refers to the ‘proper channels’, he apparently means Israel and the U.S., both of which were greatly irritated that such a report could be issued by the United Nations. Never mind that it was factual; it criticized sacred Israel, so it must not be allowed to stand. Ms. Haley was not silent about this perceived outrage. She weighed in on this report, again delighting all and sundry with her polished prose: “And a ridiculous report, the Falk Report, came out. I don’t know who the guy is or what he’s about, but he’s got serious problems. Goes and compares Israel to an apartheid state. So the first thing we do is we call the secretary general and say, this is absolutely ridiculous.”

One might think it worthwhile for the ambassador to do a few things prior to letting loose with her verbal diarrhea.  First, she might find out who Mr. Falk is (a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University); she might learn just ‘what he’s about’ (he was the  United Nations Special Rapporteur  for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for six years; perhaps human rights is ‘what he’s about’), and finally, perhaps she might consider reading the report before calling the secretary general and saying ‘this is absolutely ridiculous’.

As Ms. Haley was waxing eloquent at the unholy AIPAC altar, various Congressional bodies and the FBI were busy investigating the Trump White House for ties to Russia, all of which are somehow associated with a belief that Russia attempted to unduly influence the U.S. election. Horrors! Can such a thing even be imagined? Historian and philosopher Noam Chomsky commented on this in an interview with Truthout. Said he: “Much of the world must be astonished — if they are not collapsing in laughter — while watching the performances in high places and in media concerning Russian efforts to influence an American election, a familiar US government specialty as far back as we choose to trace the practice. There is, however, merit in the claim that this case is different in character: By US standards, the Russian efforts are so meager as to barely elicit notice.” As Truthout said: “…the US has blatantly interfered in the elections of many other nations, with methods that include not only financial support to preferred parties and the circulation of propaganda, but also assassinations and overthrows of even democratically elected regimes.”

Russia does not have nearly the influence in the U.N. of those two rogue nations, the U.S. and Israel, both of which are guilty of unspeakable human rights violations at home and abroad. They actually wield sufficient influence with the U.N. to get things done their way. Actually, it is the U.S. influence on the U.N., and Israel’s on the U.S. And how does Israel manage to have so much sway in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress? Well, among U.S. elected pseudo-representatives, money talks, and Israeli lobbies are flush with it, which they are willing to dole out to any member or potential member of Congress who is willing to jump through whatever hoops it chooses to hold. And those hoops usually demand acquiescence to Israel’s brutal occupation and persecution of the Palestinians.

And how that cash does flow into the campaigns of U.S. ‘representatives’! Between November 29, 2010 and November 28, 2016, Israeli lobbies donated a whopping $14,283,115.00 to members of the U.S. Senate. In the two-year period of November 29, 2014 to November 28, 2016, members of the House of Representatives received $5,910,402.00 in the form of pro-Israeli-lobby largesse. Members of Congress have one priority, and one priority only: holding onto their jobs. Human rights? Who needs them! Integrity? What will that get you! Acting on the will of the people? What do they know! The amount of blood staining the money doesn’t matter, as long as the cash keeps flowing in.

At the very close of former President Barack Obama’s administration, the United Nations passed a resolution condemning the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Ms. Haley and Mr. Trump notwithstanding, revoking a U.N. resolution is next to impossible, especially when one considers that the representatives of the member states of the Security Council erupted in applause when the U.S. abstained from voting, rather than vetoing the resolution. They can all bow and scrape as much as they want to their Israeli masters. The U.S. was the last country to condemn South African apartheid, yet that was defeated; it may be the last to condemn Israeli apartheid, but that, too, will be defeated.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Mattis, the U.S. and Iran: What Source Terrorism?

It would be foolish to start this article with a comment about the disarray, confusion, and stupidity, and response to it, that have marked the first few weeks of the new Trump Administration. Worldwide anti-Trump rallies, massive protests at airports, and blatant falsehoods issued from the president, his spokespeople and top advisors have become business as usual in a very short time. None of this is news to the reader.

And, on top of it all, come these pearls of wisdom from the United States Secretary of Defense, one James Mattis: “As far as Iran goes, this is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

There you are; a pronouncement by a representative of the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, accusing someone else of its own crimes.

Let us look at the evidence upon which the good Mr. Mattis might be drawing. Since World War II, the United States, that self-proclaimed beacon of peace and freedom, has either invaded or intentionally destabilized at least thirty-three (33) countries, including Angola, Argentina, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tibet, Turkey and Vietnam. Some of these countries have been invaded by the U.S. more than once in that time. And, let us not forget, that at the close of World War II, the U.S. became the only country in history to use nuclear weapons, selecting two cities with no discernible military presence to annihilate.

Iran, that reprehensible sponsor of state terror has, since World War II, invaded a total of zero (0) countries.

Are we, once again, being given ‘alternative facts’ by the U.S. government?

With the U.S. still rattling its saber and now aiming it at Iran, we must ask ourselves why this is. Well, during the administration of President Barack Obama, Iran struck a deal with the world that sanctions against it would be lifted, as long as it used its nuclear development program for peaceful purposes. As we all know, Israel is the only country in the Middle East allowed to have nuclear weapons. Yes, that makes sense; allow an apartheid regime, in violation of countless United Nations resolutions and international laws, a brutal, occupying nation, to have nuclear weapons, but don’t let its sworn enemy (Iran) have any reasonable means of defending itself. For years, Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu has been proclaiming to the adoring U.S. Congress that Iran is just months away from developing nuclear weapons. And when Mr. Netanyahu speaks, Congress listens. And why not? Between 2010 and 2016, pro-Israel lobbies contributed over $12 million dollars to the campaigns of U.S. senators, and between 2014 and 2016, they donated nearly $5 million dollars to members of the House of Representatives. What do justice, international law and human rights have to do with anything, when such sums are to be raised?

On February 1, Iran tested a new defensive missile, throwing the entire Trump Administration into a frantic tizzy.  Iran’s defence minister, Hossein Dehghan, denied that the test violated the agreement made during the Obama administration, stating that Iran’s missile tests don’t involve rockets with nuclear warheads. Said he: “The recent test was in line with our plans and we will not allow foreigners to interfere in our defence affairs”.

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn added to the very puzzling statement of Mr. Mattis, when he criticized the actions of Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, a country which the U.S. has been bombing for years. It would have been interesting, one imagines, for someone to have questioned Mr. Flynn about U.S.-backed rebels in Syria, who are guilty of atrocious crimes against civilians, but, apparently, as long as we can make up something to criticize about Iran, no journalist will look too closely at the U.S.’s own crimes.

So what are we to make of all this? There seem to be a few ‘takeaways’ worth noting.

  • The U.S., under Mr. Trump’s chaotic reign, will continue to wage war around the world.
  • Israel still calls the shots.
  • The concepts of ‘journalism’ and ‘integrity’ will continue to have little or no association.
  • ‘Newspeak’, so named by George Orwell in his once-again best-selling novel, 1984, will continue, but under the new name of ‘alternative facts’.

One would hope, in vain, that perhaps Mr. Trump’s intention to launch World War III would cause him at least to ignore domestic policy, and perhaps leave things alone at home. But no, he has not been idle on the homefront. His brand new Secretary of Education, one Betsy Devos, who donated tens of millions of dollars to his campaign, does not support public education.  His nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, finally, in January of this year, conceded that human activity plays ‘some’ role in climate change. The executive director of the Sierra Club, Michael Burne, said that appointing Mr. Pruitt to the EPA is “like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires”.  Mr. Trump has accused Judge James Robart, who overturned Mr. Trump’s travel ban, as inviting terrorists into the U.S., and referred to him as a ‘so-called’ judge, despite the fact that he was appointed by a Republican president, George Bush.

Since the primaries ended last year, resulting in the nominations of Donald Trump and former Senator Hillary Clinton, this writer has been in despair for the U.S. and the world. The candidates were far different, but each terrible in their own, unique ways. There were similarities, of course: both were wealthy, white, old and had very questionable backgrounds. Both grovelled at the repulsive Israeli altar. But from there, they each travelled down different roads, neither of which would be of any use to the 99%.

And now we see the damage that Mr. Trump is perpetrating upon the country and the rest of the world. One would like to see cooler heads prevail, but there are none in Washington, D.C. We can only hope that the damage caused by the Trump administration will not be too great to be reversed in four years.

 

 

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Of Republicrats and Third Parties

It has been said that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. Apparently, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wishes to fool all of the people, at least those who were once his loyal devotees, all of the time. This writer received an enthusiastic email from some organization talking about the next steps in Mr. Sanders ‘revolution’, and requesting that this writer hold a house party to watch a speech to be given by the senator, as part of the initiation of a new organization called ‘Our Revolution’.

Well, there is certainly something revolting about all this, but it has nothing to do with a social change.

Mr. Sanders, that avowed socialist with a long and undistinguished career in what passes in the U.S. for public service (well-paid ‘service’, that is), lost all credibility with any but his most blindly loyal followers when, after months of railing against everything that Hillary Clinton stands for, even to the point of calling her unfit to be president, he put on a happy face and gave her a glowing endorsement at the Democratic Convention. Does this sound to the reader like a man of integrity? Does endorsing Miss Wall Street 2016 have that ring of revolutionary fervor? Does such glowing support of the Princess of Israel sound like part of revolutionary change

Methinks not. No, his support for Mrs. Clinton, and his forthcoming address about ‘Our Revolution’, seem to be the work of a career politician who wants to bask in whatever remains of the adulation of his naive and enthusiastic youthful followers, while at the same time enjoying all the perquisites of ‘the good old boys’ club’. The only thing he sacrifices along the way (in addition, of course, to self-respect, but who in elected office has that anyway?), is credibility. Oh, and integrity. And honesty. Well, maybe he does make many sacrifices to enjoy both the prestige of change agent and maintainer of the status quo. But really, does anyone do it better than he?

Let’s look for a moment to the dismal sight on the right wing of this rather repulsive bird known as the Republocratic Party. While some of the Republican elected officials are running as fast as possible, like rats from a sinking ship, from their candidate, billionaire Donald Trump, others are grabbing whatever life-preservers they can find, as they attempt to ‘put Party first’ and support their repugnant candidate. So what if he insults every non-white, non-male, non-Christian group on the planet? Let’s see: women, mothers, Muslims, gays, poor people, Mexicans, Blacks; the list is really rather long. But, say the GOP bigwigs, we must put Party first, apparently before justice, equality and common decency, but who needs those old things anyway?

We are told that Mrs. Clinton holds an 8 – 10 point lead over Mr. Trump in current polls. Now, if one were to look just at Mr. Trump, one would wonder why his opponent’s lead isn’t 30 or 40 or more points in size. But, on the other hand, if one were to look only at Mrs. Clinton, one would wonder how bad her opponent would have to be, for her to be leading.

To hear the corporate-owned media tell it, this is the choice facing the U.S. voter today: two candidates so out of touch with most of the United States as to be laughable, if it weren’t so tragic. But allow this writer to offer a slight glimmer of hope, a possible ray of sunshine within ever-darkening clouds, and advise the reader of something he/she will not hear from MSNBC and its various corporate cohorts: there are dozens of third-party candidates running!

Now, for many years, this writer thought that a vote for a third party candidate was a throwaway, accomplishing nothing and possibly allowing the greater of the two ‘evil’ candidates to be elected. Isn’t it better, he argued, to vote for the ‘lesser evil’?

Well, he is singing a different song this time around, possibly because, much as he studies the issues and the candidates, he sees no ‘lesser’ evil. The U.S. and the world will be subjected to either a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump presidency, and that’s like choosing between Satan and Bael; they are the same individual with different names.

So what can be accomplished by voting for a third-party candidate? Certainly, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Gloria La Riva and the other dozens running have no chance of ever seeing the inside of the White House unless they pay their fee and enter with the tour guide. But there are at least three good reasons for not voting for either the Republican or Democratic candidate:

1/ It enables the voter to express complete dissatisfaction with both the candidates, and the nominating process (which is particularly undemocratic in the Democratic Party, a fact that burned Mr. Sanders, but that he seems very willing to forgive and forget). An increasing number of votes for third-party candidates threatens the power of the GOP and Democrats, who will stop at nothing to hold onto that power. If they come to realize that they will lose it unless they change, they will eventually change; being relegated to inconsequence is the worst nightmare of all U.S. elected officials. However, as the GOP has proven after its three electoral losses in the last four presidential elections, that lesson doesn’t come quickly. And one is naïve indeed if one thinks the Democrats will be quick to adjust to changing voter sentiment. But it will happen.

2/ Voting for a third-party candidate enables the voter to enthusiastically select a candidate. No more thinking, “well this one is bad, and that one is terrible, so I guess I’ll vote for the bad one to minimize the damage”. The election of either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump will be equally disastrous: voters should select someone they would actually like to see as president.

3/ The voter who votes for a third-party candidate avoids being a party to whatever disasters occur after Inauguration Day of 2017. And the disasters will come, with either an irresponsible buffoon having his finger on the nuclear button, or a cold and calculating war-monger, seeking to readjust the world to her own and Israel’s twisted ways of thinking.

Does this writer sound cynical? Does it seem strange that he does not wish to continue President Obama’s legacy, as Mrs. Clinton has vowed to do? Yes, there will be more wars, more poverty, more injustice under a new Clinton administration, continuing Mr. Obama’s barbaric policies of drone warfare and support for nations with atrocious human rights records, like Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Or perhaps the reader is puzzled that, disliking Mrs. Clinton so much, this writer doesn’t throw his support behind the obnoxious, egotistical windbag the Republicans are running. No, since he understands that Blacks, women, Muslims, poor people, gays, etc. in this country, and everyone abroad, regardless of the government under which they live, are entitled to basic human dignity and self-determination, he cannot pull the lever for Mr. Trump.

So what is he to do, but take his own advice and vote for a third-party candidate. For him, that means pulling the lever (actually, marking the paper, since he lives in Canada and votes by absentee ballot), beside the name of Gloria La Riva. If one wants to talk about a revolution, it is Ms. La Riva, and not the ineffectual and hypocritical Mr. Sanders, that one should be studying. By so voting, he will, as mentioned above, express dissatisfaction with all things Republican and Democrat; vote for someone he is enthusiastic about, and not have to explain, when the death toll from U.S. wars in the Middle East and who knows where else skyrockets, how dead people under a Democratic administration are, somehow, not as tragic as under a Republican administration.

The upcoming election is a tragicomedy in many ways, but, ultimately, the laughter will cease, and only the tragedy will remain. This writer will not be a part of it.

Originally published on Counterpunch.

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An open letter to Elie Wiesel, from Omar Ramahi

You claim to belong to the Judaic tradition of 3500 years old. The facts show that you have no connection not only to the Judaic tradition but to humanity in all its good shades.

Your claim that Hamas uses human shields in Gaza is purely sinister.

Not a single free roaming photographer or reporter in Gaza could substantiate your wicked claim.

On the contrary, the practice of using human shields was invented by the very Israeli defense forces during their quashing of the Palestinian intifadas.

Mr. Wiesel, are women and children queueing for food at the UN shelter human shields? Your definition for human shields is not that shared by humanity. Perhaps you implied that being a Palestinian by itself is a human shield; a shield against the grand plan of an apartheid state that nourishes itself by injustice and land theft. Your human shield argument is unshielding your inhumanity and expressing a betrayal of the Judaic tradition and the Torah that you claim to hold most high. Cannot your humanity give you a slight courage to condemn but only one massacre at the numerous UN shelters in Gaza; shelters housing the weak, elderly, women and children already displaced by the ethnic cleansing from the Israeli self-proclaimed 3 km buffer zone in Gaza (effectively depriving Gazans of almost half of their territory)?

Mr. Wiesel, if such savagery did not move you, you have lost your Jewishness and humanity.

Mr. Wiesel, your sinister claim implies that Palestinians don’t value life. For your information, Palestinians not only value life but know its infinite value and cherish it. Only the person who is deprived of something knows its value. Please search the folk songs of Palestinians (if you believe they have or have had culture) and reflect on the strength of family connection and community amongst Palestinians. On your next trip to Israel, please take a 5 minute trip into one of the refugee camps inside the West Bank to learn more about the Palestinians and their communities.

Mr. Wiesel, your evil claim that Palestinians sacrifice their loved ones is a disgrace beyond measure.

Mr. Wiesel: My heart twitches with pain more from the likes of you and all those who are accomplices to this genocide including the monarchs of the Middle East and the tyrant of Egypt who emboldened the only pariah of the World, i.e., Israel, to wage this genocide against the defenseless Palestinians and to seal the borders and confine 1.8 Million Palestinians to an inferno courtesy of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Mr. Wiesel: Please don’t hide behind the nauseating mantra of Israel right to self defense. Leave mantras for those politicians whose moral calculus succumbed to short-lived political gains. Please rest assured that I too believe in Israel’s right to defend itself. Israel has the right to defend itself, but what does defense mean? Does defense implies the following:[i]

Destruction of 10080 houses (1556 fully destroyed; 8,424 partially damaged.
1.Partial destruction of 24 health centers (hospitals and medical clinics).
2.167 schools shelled, bringing the number of affected students to 9100.
3.6 universities destroyed, bringing the number of affected students to 100,000.
4.Overall economic losses stand at US$1590 million.
5.Overall direct economic losses now stand at US$1290 million.
6.Overall indirect economic losses now stand at US$300 million.
7.Destruction of 20 charities.
8.Total number of displaced Palestinians stands at 450,000.
9.The total number of civilians displaced after Israeli warnings to evacuate their homes now stands at 310,000.
10.The total number of civilians displaced due to bombing and destruction of their homes now stands at 165,000.
11.Eight water pumping and sewage stations have been bombed and destroyed in Gaza, affecting 700,000 Palestinians.
12.118 mosques have been shelled (81 partially damaged; 37 fully destroyed).
13.15 money exchange shops were destroyed, in addition to post offices and banks.
14.52 fishing boats were bombed and destroyed.
15.Number of explosive shells fired on Gaza: 60,129.
16.Number of shells fired by Israeli warships: 1,560.
17.Number of shells fired by Israeli warplanes: 6,993.
18.Number of shells fired by Israeli armored tanks: 37,531

Mr. Wiesel, if all of this is in the name of defense, then what would Israel’s offense look like?

Mr. Wiesel, please have the moral rectitude and courage to seek the truth. The truth is no substitute for the evil and immoral propaganda of an occupation army.

Mr. Wiesel, it was Israel that started this war not Hamas and not the other people of Gaza that did not elect Hamas to be their representative. The Abrahamic religions came to uphold truth not myth. If you claim to be part of the Judaic tradition, then seek the truth before you level your wicked and sinister claims. Only if you are interested in the truth, please find out exactly how this war started? Yes, the archives are available. On June 30th, Israel conducted 34 strikes against Gaza with devastating effect and mayhem. Despite being sanitized from the political discourse, those facts can be found in the archives of the BBC news service amongst others[ii]. On July 1, 2014, the NY Times, in what appears to be coordination with Israel, did not mention this “insignificant” story for a reason. Hamas, in retaliation, started shelling targets in Israel. Hamas shelling that followed the savagery of the 34 Israeli strikes was, of course, prominently featured by the NY Times and the constellation of media outlets that receive their directives from Israeli operatives.

Mr. Wiesel, an immoral enterprise cannot be defended and it is not too late to preserve your humanity and distance yourself from it. Muster the courage and take a trip to Gaza to find the truth, not the deceptive sinister claims of the army that kills babies indiscriminately. Take a trip to the occupied West Bank and witness the land theft (i.e., settlements) first hand and the apartheid roads for the exclusive use of Jews. If you are worried about your safety, no problem, google has all the facts, but the courage to see facts emanates from our humanity.

By now, The Palestinians have lost close to 1900 of their loved ones and more than 396 children in addition to the pulverization of the livelihood of hundreds of thousands, but I assure you, they never lost their humanity. If you are too sensitive to see mingled bodies and chopped and charred limbs, please go to www.humanizepalestine.com to see those plucked from their prime by the incendiary 2000 lb bombs and smart missiles of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Your claim of Palestinians using their children as human shields hints at a sub-human nature of Palestinians. Your implication that a father or a mother would sacrifice their own son or daughter to protect them is indecent and evil; as if Palestinians have moral values different from the rest of the world. Your claim is no less sinister than that of the arch architect of the Gaza genocide, Netanyahu, who claimed “Hamas wants to pile up ‘telegenically dead Palestinians’[iii]. The culture of hate within Israel is championed by Dov Lior[iv] (Israeli rabbi), Yochanan Gordon[v] (Israeli columnist and writer), and Ayelet Shaked[vi] (Israeli lawmaker and Knesset member) amongst others who fuel the dehumanization of the Palestinians in the only shining democracy of the Middle East.

Mr. Wiesel, it is most likely the perception of Palestinians as subhuman that gives an Israeli soldier the thrill to bomb defenseless Palestinian children and have a comfortable sleep at night. Mr. Wiesel, don’t be an accomplice to a culture that has distanced itself from the decency of the Judaic tradition and is intoxicated with the rapture of power and might.

Mr. Wiesel, it is not too late to redeem yourself. Don’t speak in the name of Judaism or in the name of the 3500 years of Jewish tradition. I know quite well good Jews all over the world don’t identify with your disturbing effort to cover up the crimes of Israel in Gaza. Your claims make you a polarizing figure.

Mr. Wiesel, don’t hide behind the 3500 year old Judaic tradition. If you do, you will then be as good as the ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq that hide behind the Qur’an and Islam to justify their barbarism. The only difference is the severity of the barbarism that both of you are justifying.

Mr. Wiesel, it is not too late to redeem yourself and distance yourself from the perpetrators of the genocide in Gaza, from baby killers disguised in military fatigues.

Mr. Wiesel, if your stomach can handle it, please see the photo below (intentionally placed on a separate page in case it is too gruesome for your sensitive feelings) and take a firsthand appreciation of the true human shield used by the heroic Palestinians in defense of their loved ones[vii]. The concrete slabs of the building those perished souls took refuge under were not sufficient to shield this child from the devastating consequences of the smart bombs of the Israeli Defense Forces. The only shield the defenseless Palestinians used to protect their children was their naked flesh. The naked flesh was the only human shield used against the Israeli inferno.

Mr. Wiesel, instead of championing the bravery and honor of the Palestinian victims, you choose to dishonor them with your sinister claims.

Indeed, the truth is the first casualty of war. Let us not make it the last one.

Truly yours,

Omar Ramahi

August 5, 2014

Source: http://benswann.com/warning-graphic-the-children-of-gaza-in-pictures/

[i] http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/politics/politico/8369-statistics-on-the-israeli-offensive-against-gaza

[ii] https://archive.org/details/KQED_20140701_213000_BBC_World_News_America#start/240/end/300

[iii] http://forward.com/articles/202436/netanyahu-hamas-wants-to-pile-up-telegenically/

[iv] http://www.jta.org/2014/07/24/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/west-bank-rabbi-dov-lior-jewish-law-permits-destruction-of-gaza

[v] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/gaza-strip-palestinian-genocide-permissible-writer-yochanan-gordon-launches-twitter-defence-1459397

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

[vii] http://benswann.com/warning-graphic-the-children-of-gaza-in-pictures/

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Israeli Missteps Take a Toll

Published on Counterpunch on July 31, 2015

Israeli Missteps Take a Toll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel’s Siege On Gaza Is Worse Than You Think

Printed by MintPress on July 22, 2015.

Israel’s Siege On Gaza Is Worse Than You Think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Printed by MintPress on July 22, 2015.

Israel’s Siege On Gaza Is Worse Than You Think

 

 

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