Category Archives: Israel

Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections

Well, the mid-term elections are over, but the fallout from them, the constant verbal diarrhea from newscasters, pundits and other self-proclaimed experts, continues.

And what are they saying? For many of them on whatever passes for ‘leftist’ in the U.S. today (there is really no such thing in the two major parties or the so-called ‘mainstream’ news media), the glee is overwhelming. Democrats won control of the House and now, finally, we are told, much needed brakes will be applied to the speeding Donald Trump train wreck-in-the-making.

Ho hum. Is there really any cause for thinking people in the U.S., or anywhere in the world, for that matter, to suddenly think that the U.S. has begun to climb out of its long decline? Does any reasonable person actually think that Democrats controlling the House of Representatives will change anything?

Let’s look at some things that should change.

* War: the U.S. should stop bombing every nation it is now bombing; it should stop supporting Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people, and Saudi Arabia’s genocide of the Yemeni people. It should immediately withdraw from Afghanistan.

Is this going to happen, now that the Democrats control one house of Congress? Will any of them even speak about these issues? Why do that, when doing so might annoy powerful lobby groups?  Such actions would require knowledge, compassion, an understanding of history, a commitment to the people who they purport to represent. Does any of this sound like the characteristics of U.S. politicians? Hardly!

* Environment: With Trump having no problems whatsoever with polluted water and air, and allowing mining and logging to take place in national parks, it would seem that the Democrats could take aim at these issues. After all, it is their children who must breath this air and drink this water. Oh wait, in the exclusive enclaves in which the members of the oligarch reside, such mundane issues are of no concern. They don’t live near factories, spewing their poisons into the air. The water that they drink, and that fills their swimming pools, is always from the most pristine of sources. So what if their constituents don’t have these same advantages? They simply need to work harder, and then they, too, will be able to join the 1%. Of course, how one is going to work harder than some people in the middle- and poverty-classes currently work, with multiple jobs just to make ends meet, is never quite explained.

* International agreements. Trump has proudly disgraced the United States, and proven again (if any additional proof was necessary) that agreements entered into by the U.S. are meaningless. The Paris Climate Accord was the first that Trump violated. He followed that up with pulling out of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and by reissuing sanctions against Iran, despite the fact that the entire international community recognizes that Iran has fully complied with the agreement. Even Saudi Arabia and Apartheid Israel, the only two countries on the planet that praised Trump’s decision, don’t deny that Iran is compliant. Perhaps the newly-empowered Democrats in the House might start by demanding that Trump honor this commitment. But no, Iran is the current bugaboo, so that isn’t going to happen, either. Please feel free to review the information stated above about knowledge and an understanding of history, and consider again how these traits are lacking in Congress.

* Taxes. During the first two years of Trumps increasingly disastrous administration, the U.S.’s upper crust, the members of the 1%, which includes the president himself, his wealthy supporters and most of the members of Congress, received a very generous tax cut. Prior to the mid-term elections, there was talk coming from the White House that such a cut for what’s left of the middle-class would be introduced ‘soon’. Of course, ‘soon’ is a relative word, which could mean anything from tomorrow to when hell freezes over. In this context, the latter meaning is the one we can all use.

Will the Democrats tackle this issue? Will they throw a bone to the people who actually vote for them? No, we must be very careful not to do anything that might cause the wealthy to feel some economic pinch; better to let the middle-class carry the burden. Once they are able to make huge donations to the campaign coffers of their own (or others; it hardly matters to whom the money goes, as long as some politician gets it), then, perhaps, they will receive some tax relief.

We must now ask: with the Democrats soon to control the House of Representatives, what, exactly, will they do? Well, they have made their plans clear. They will demand that Trump release his tax returns, something that weighs heavily, this writer is sure, on the minds of people attempting to make ends meet. They will investigate whether or not Trump broke the law by paying hush money to his erstwhile mistress, Stormy Daniels (among others). No doubt citizens across the U.S. have been busy writing their elected officials (this writer absolutely refuses to call them representatives), demanding to know the answer to this question, and telling them that, while they try not to go bankrupt paying for college education, their number one priority, the issue that Congress must tackle, before addressing the crumbling infrastructure, low-performing school, the opioid epidemic, or crippling taxes, is to determine where the funding came for Trump to silence that particular woman.

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency pushed the U.S. through some strange portal, where the bizarre becomes the mundane, truth is fiction and the reality you see before you is denied. The country had long since been hovering at that portal, but Trump dove through it, taking Congress with him. A willing Democratic Party closed its eyes and took the plunge, too.

Within just a few short months, we must all endure the announcements of various Democrats that they have decided to take their level of ‘service’ to the nation to the next level, and seek the presidency in 2020. These dynamic agents of change (?) include former Vice President Joe Biden, an elderly white man who inspires absolutely no one, and none other than Hillary Clinton, she of the long and sullied resume and sufficient baggage to sink a freighter. Various other names are bandied about, and all of them are cut from the same mold: barely different from the Republicans, perhaps a tad PEP (Progressive Except for Palestine), but mostly male and entirely white.

And why should it be different? Those potential candidates live very well in their ivory towers, and the system is rigged so none of the little people can ever even dream of affording a political campaign.

And so the pattern continues: lots of talk, no action, and increasing suffering at home and abroad. Welcome to the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Militarism, Military, Palestine, Political Musings, U.S., U.S. Politics

Candidates, Palestine and Pro-Israel Lobby Money

It is not unusual for this writer to receive solicitations for campaign contributions from Democratic candidates across the country. The fact that he lives in Canada, and is registered in Florida (his last U.S. place of residence), is of no concern to candidates with their hands out. When receiving such emails, or when hearing about other ‘progressive’ candidates, he checks online to learn if they are truly progressive, or are PEP  – Progressive Except for Palestine.

One such candidate, House member Krysten Sinema, was recently elected to represent Arizona in the Senate. In researching her background, this writer found a ‘position paper’ from 2009 that parrots many of the statements he’s heard from other PEP officials. We will look at a few of them in detail. While this ‘position paper’ is several years old, the candidate has worked hard since then to hone her racist, Zionist credentials.

As we look at these statements, let’s keep in the back of our minds that fact that, during the 2017 – 2018 elections cycle, Sinema received $233,667.00 in donations from pro-Israel lobbies. In the two years prior, her take was  a ‘mere’ $61,725.00.

  • “The United States and Israel have been allies for more than 60 years, and this relationship, born of common values, must continue to be strong. Our friendship is rooted in our mutual respect for democratic values, human rights and religious freedom.”

It is a marvel that any thinking person can speak these words, let alone believe them. Democracy, unlike what the U.S. government officials would have us all believe, is far more than periodic voting. But even by that superficial litmus test, both countries fail. In both Israel and the U.S., voter suppression works to maintain the status quo. In both countries, there is one ethnic group that is favored and privileged above all others. In the U.S., it is whites of European descent. In Israel, it is Zionist Jews. In the U.S., people of African descent are more likely to receive harsher prison sentences for the same crimes committed by their white peers; they are far more likely to be shot by white police officers. In Israel, people of Arab or African descent are brutally treated. Palestinians can be arrested without charge and held indefinitely with no access to lawyers, or even family. And like the U.S., in Israel, Palestinians or people of African descent receive far more severe penalties for crimes than their Jewish counterparts.

Israel is continually criticized by the international community for its human rights violations against Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The U.S. vetoes nearly all United Nations resolutions critical of Israel, while it finances its crimes.

The U.S. also supports Saudi Arabia, despite its atrocious human rights record.

Additionally, the U.S. tortures political prisoners at Guantanamo, and in ‘rendition’ sites around the world.

In the U.S., the favored religious status is Christian or Jewish; Muslims need not apply. Mosques surrounded by armed protesters during religious services barely register with the citizenry. One can only imagine how much blood would flow should armed Muslims ever surround a church or synagogue during worship services, and all of it would be from Muslim bodies.

Based on all this, Sinema may be right in saying the nations have shared values.

  • “While I had read about the conflict between Israel and Hamas, it was only in Sderot that I saw first hand the danger in which many Israelis live each day. I will never forget the bomb shelter that was built at the site of a children’s playground after children had been killed by Hamas rockets.”

Is Sinema totally unaware of the danger in which all Palestinians live each day? Is she unaware of the brutality of checkpoints in the West Bank, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip? Is she completely ignorant of the brutal harassment that occurs on a daily basis at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem? Is she blind to home demolitions, arrests without cause, assaults on and murders of unarmed men, women and children by IDF soldiers and illegal settlers? Does she not  know that since 2000, while 1,242 Israelis have been killed in conflicts with Palestinians, at least 9,510 Palestinians have been killed? Does she not know that this number includes 134 Israeli children and 2,167 Palestinian children? If she doesn’t know, she is too uninformed to be part of the U.S. Congress. If she does know, her racism makes her unfit for government ‘service’.

  • “I believe that Israel has the right to defend herself from her neighbors and from terrorist organizations.” One wonders if the illustrious Sinema also believes that a rapist has the right to defend himself when the woman he is raping fights back. The logic is the same in both situations. Israel brutally occupies Palestine, and according to international law, Palestine has the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. Israel doesn’t ‘defend’ itself from Palestine; it simply increases the brutality of the occupation.
  • “I also believe that the best path to long-term peace for Israel is a two-state solution – one a secure Jewish state of Israel and the other, an independent, demilitarized Palestine.”

Does she not believe in a secure Palestinian state? And why, oh why, would any country, especially one adjacent to a nation that has spent seventy years trying to destroy it, be ‘demilitarized’? Does not Palestine have a right to defend itself from its neighbors and from terrorist organizations, such as the IDF?

  • “…lasting peace will only emerge from direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.” No, Ms. Sinema, this is not how “lasting peace” will emerge. If Israel is forced by the international community to adhere to international law, there will be peace. This means retreating to the pre-1967 borders, and ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

We will take a moment to state, once again, that negotiations can only be successful when each party wants something the other has, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes whatever it wants from Palestine with complete impunity. Why wouldn’t Israel say it’s willing to negotiate? It can ‘negotiate’ all it wants while it simply steals land from Palestine.

Sinema’s statement goes on, but time, along with this writer’s ability to read such garbage, are both limited. But it is clear that Sinema is reading a script from her pro-Israel owners.

She is certainly not the only one. While she ranks fourth in donations from pro-Israel lobbies during the 2017 – 2018 campaign season, Texas’s own PEP candidate, Beta O’Rourke, ranks number one, with a whopping $390,982.00.

There is a great hue and cry among the self-righteous Congressional hypocrites on both sides of the aisle that Russia, perhaps, attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election. Yet when pro-Israel lobbies spend millions and millions of dollars to elect candidates who will work for Israel’s best interest, these same people are silent. Prior to the 2016 Democratic convention, true progressives (the few that remain in the Democratic Party) attempted to remove the provision that the Democrats recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In its most un-Democratic way, the Party kept this provision, thus pleasing its Israeli owners.

Until any major party becomes truly progressive, this writer’s donations and votes will go to third-party candidates who believe in human rights and international law. He expects to be donating to, and voting for, third-party candidates for a long time to come.

Originally published by The Palestine News Network.

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Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Military, Palestine, Palestine, Political Musings, U.S. Politics, Violence

The Hypocrisy of the United States, Cuba Edition

One can only marvel at the blatant, outrageous hypocrisy of the United States. This is on clear display in many areas: proclaiming support for self-determination while financing the oppression of the Palestinians; citing international law when it suits its needs, but violating international law, such as in the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and stating that ‘all men are created equal’, as U.S. police officers gun down unarmed people of African descent. Multiple examples abound.

The government’s officials do nothing to hide this hypocrisy; rather, they seem to seek opportunities to flaunt it.

The most recent opportunity came when the U.S. called a special meeting of the United Nations to spotlight, it said, Cuba’s political prisoners. According to the U.S., Cuba has imprisoned 130 political prisoners. The U.S. called this a “blatant affront” to basic democratic freedoms.

Over the course of several years, nearly 800 of the U.S.’s political prisoners have been jailed in the U.S.’s Cuban base, Guantanamo Bay. Currently, about 55 are housed there. These prisoners are often jailed for years, without charge or access to family or legal assistance, and are tortured.

One such shocking case was the incarceration and torture of Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, arrested in Afghanistan at the age of 15 after having been badly injured by U.S. soldiers (please note that child soldiers cannot, according to international law, be arrested). After being tortured in Afghanistan, he spent 10 years in the U.S.’s Cuban-based torture chamber (yes, Canada was complicit in these crimes, and compensated Mr. Khadr with $10 million dollars, far less than he should have received).

We will look at a few of the statements the U.S. made prior to and after the U.N. meeting on Cuba. What was said during the meeting is hard to discern, since Cuban diplomats shouted over the U.S. speakers, disrupting them constantly.

The first quotation manifests in just thirty-two words the hypocrisy that is so emblematic of the United States.

  • “Holding the Cuban regime responsible for its human rights violations and supporting the Cuban people’s aspirations to live in freedom are key components of President Trump’s National Security Presidential Memorandum of 2017.”

Trump and the U.S. government are very selective in who they hold “responsible for its human rights violations”, and whose “aspirations to live in freedom” they support. Israel and Saudi Arabia are two of the planet’s most brutal violators of human rights, yet the U.S. supports them completely, with the U.S. providing more foreign aid to Israel than it gives to all other nations combined. The United Nations has issued more resolutions critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians than it has of any other nation, and that number would be higher if the U.S. didn’t generally veto them.

As this is being written, Palestinians demonstrating for the right of return, a right guaranteed under international law, are being slaughtered by Israel in the Gaza Strip. More Palestinians are losing their homes in the West Bank so that Israel can build illegal settlements on Palestinian land that only Israelis can live in. Yet the U.S. is proclaiming its support for the people of Cuba to “live in freedom”.

We should also point out the Cubans can leave Cuba at will; they can travel for business, pleasure, education or any other reason, with no restrictions by the government. Palestinians in the West Bank are forbidden by Israel from visiting the Gaza Strip, let alone leave the country altogether, and those in Gaza can’t visit the West Bank. Why doesn’t Trump’s ‘National Security Presidential Memorandum of 2017’ apply to the Palestinians?

  • A State Department statement regarding the Cuba-focused U.N. meeting proclaimed that the 130 political prisoners allegedly held by Cuba are “…”an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the regime and represent a blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support.”

There are so many things in this statement that demonstrate U.S. hypocrisy. We will attempt to sort them all out.

If having 130 political prisoners is a sign of “the repressive nature” and a “blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States” supports, what, then, is the incarceration of 55 political prisoners of the U.S? Is 55 too low a number? Is it only when the number reaches, say, 130, that it is “…an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the regime and represent(s) a blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support”?

And we must remember that that number, 55, is just those in Guantanamo. There are numerous other political prisoners in the U.S. Chelsea Manning, pardoned by President Barack Obama, was imprisoned for exposing U.S. crimes; she was sentenced to 35 years, and spent seven incarcerated, must of in solitary confinement. Edward Snowden fled the U.S. to avoid becoming a political prisoner. His ‘crime’, too, was exposing U.S. crimes.

And what about Mumia Abu Jamal? Convicted of the killing of a police officer in Philadelphia in 1981, a crime for which the evidence of his guilt is limited, at best, he has spent nearly 36 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement.

And then there is Leonard Peltier, an activist in the American Indian Movement. Since its founding, the U.S. has had nothing but disdain for the ‘Indians’ (indigenous population of the U.S.), and silencing a ‘trouble-maker’ like Peltier, someone who actually advocated for the indigenous population, wasn’t hard to do. He was convicted of killing two FBI agents. During his appeal, the government admitted that it had no evidence connecting him with the crime. The FBI withheld evidence that would have exonerated him. He has been imprisoned for nearly 40 years.

The U.S. is never a fan of people advocating for social change, and will reach its deadly tentacles around the world to prevent any people’s movement from succeeding. Simon Trinidad, also known as Ricardo Palmera, is one such activist. He was a negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). During a negotiation session in Ecuador, he was arrested, extradited to the U.S. and charged with drug trafficking. On his fourth trial (the government was unable to get a conviction on the first three), he was found guilty.

Several members of the Black Panther Party, arrested during the 1960s and 1070s, remain incarcerated in U.S. prisons. Their crime was attempting to obtain equal rights for U.S. citizens of African descent, another minority group which the U.S. government holds in contempt.

This is not an exhaustive list; these names, and the unnamed 55 in the Guantanamo Bay torture center, are just a few. The U.S. also uses infamous ‘rendition sites’; it kidnaps political opponents and sends them to different countries around the world to be tortured.

Certainly, there are countries with worse human rights records than the U.S. But there are many, many whose human rights practices are far superior. It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. to criticize any other nation for any alleged human rights violations, when it supports Israel and Saudi Arabia, and holds countless U.S. political prisoners in its own jail cells.

It is unlikely that this will change soon. Trump, through his own behaviors and statements, has made racism, misogyny and repression acceptable. Much of his base supports these ugly sentiments, and the Republican Party has accepted this as the new normal. Things on the Democratic Party side aren’t much better, when the government which purports to be a democracy is, in fact, an oligarchy.

It is important for people around the world to oppose the U.S. and support Palestine, Cuba, Iran and other nations victimized by the imperial United States.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Filed under Cuba, Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Militarism, Military, U.S. Politics

The Hypocrisy of Trump on Iran

As United States President Donald Trump slowly descends into madness in front of the entire world, he seems determined to destroy Iran in the process. This would keep intact the U.S. government’s age-old policy of destroying countries that dare to defy it in any way, regardless of the toll in human suffering that that causes.

We’ll look at a few of the statements made by Trump and his various minions, and then compare them to that illusive concept that he seems to be completely unaware of: reality.

  • S. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas ‘tweeted’ this: “The U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with the courageous Iranian people protesting their corrupt regime.”

Apparently, according to the august Mr. Cotton, standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with people means issuing brutal sanctions that cause untold suffering.

Government officials say that sanctions are benign, that they only target the government.

However, the U.S. has been highly critical of an organization called ‘Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order’ (EIKO). When EIKO was established, the Ayatollah said this: “I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country; prepare this organization for this purpose.” By targeting EIKO, the U.S. is intentionally targeting the innocent people of Iran.

In this regard, author David Swanson said this: “The U.S. does not present sanctions as tools of murder and cruelty, but that’s what they are. The Russian and Iranian people are already suffering under U.S. sanctions, the Iranians most severely. But both take pride in and find resolve in the struggle, just as do people under military attack.” Two points are worth considering here: 1) sanctions hurt the common man and woman more than they do any government, and 2) the Iranian people have a fierce pride in their nation, and will not succumb to U.S. blackmail.

And let’s pause for a moment and consider Cotton’s idea of Iran’s ‘corrupt’ regime. Was it not elected in free and democratic elections? Did the Iranian government not work smoothly with the previous U.S. administration, several other nations and the European Union to develop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the U.S., under Trump, violated?

If Cotton wants to discuss ‘corrupt’ regimes, he’d be better served to start at home. Did not Trump assume office after losing the popular vote by 3,000,000 votes? Is not the Trump administration involved in numerous scandals reflecting the president’s own personal corruption, as well as that of several of his appointees? Has not the U.S. government supported terrorist groups in Syria? If Cotton believes that Iran is corrupt and the U.S. isn’t, he has an odd opinion of a ‘corrupt regime, indeed!

  • Trump himself seems to govern by ‘tweet’. On July 24, he ‘tweeted’ the following in response to a ‘tweet’ from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who, unlike Trump, was elected with the majority vote: “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” (Please note that the upper-case letters are Trump’s, not this writer’s).

Trump is hardly one to be talking about ‘demented words of violence and death’. The U.S. is bombing several countries, continues its brutality in Afghanistan, and is threatening Iran.

And what was it that Rouhani said that was so terribly offensive? Exactly this: Americans “must understand that war with Iran is the mother of all wars and peace with Iran is the mother of all peace.” These words seem to invite the U.S. to make its own selection: start a deadly and devastating war with Iran, or reach out in peace for trade and mutual security. Trump, obviously, is far more interested in the former.

  • The U.S.’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, said this: “President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”

Let’s look at another country that does things ‘to the negative’ and suffers no consequences. Israel occupies the West Bank of Palestine in violation of international law; it blockades the Gaza Strip in violation of international law; it targets medics and members of the press, in violation of international law. During its periodic bombing campaigns in Gaza, it targets schools, places of worship, residential neighborhoods and United Nations refugee centers, all in violation of international law. It arrests and holds without charge men, women and children,  all in violation of international law. Why does Israel not “pay a price like few countries have ever before”? Instead, it gets more financial aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined. Could the vast amounts of money that pro-Israel lobbies contribute to U.S. government officials possibly be the cause of this?

And should we mention Saudi Arabia? Women are stoned for adultery, and public executions are common. Its human rights record is as bad as Israel’s, and it is run by a crown prince, rather than a democratically-elected leader, but the U.S. says nothing critical of it.

Additionally, the U.S. is backing the terrorist group, Mujahedeed-e-Khalq (MEK). This group is external to Iran, and its stated goal is the overthrow of the Iranian government. Perhaps Trump wants to replicate the ‘success’ of former U.S. President George W. Bush, who overthrew the stable government of Iraq, thus causing the deaths of at least a million people (some estimates are much higher), the displacement of at least two million more, and who never cared about the chaos he left behind that remains today. This is what Trump wants for Iran.

With the U.S. violating the internationally-accepted JCPOA, which was endorsed by the United Nations, the country has reimposed sanctions on Iran. Diplomatically, this is a problem for the other nations that are part of the JCPOA, since they all wish to remain in the agreement, but Trump has threatened them with sanctions if they continue to trade with Iran. In Iran, the sanctions damage the economy, which is Trump’s goal; he hopes, naively, that the Iranian people will blame their government, rather than the real culprit – the United States – for these problems.

What is behind Trump’s hostility to Iran? Prior to the signing of the JCPOA, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the U.S. Congress, urging that body to disapprove of the agreement. He is the leader of one of the only two countries on the planet that endorsed Trump’s violation of international law in his withdrawal from the JCPOA (Saudi Arabia was the other country that supported Trump’s decision). Trump has surrounded himself with Zionists: his incompetent and corrupt son-in-law, Jared Kushner; John Bolton, and his vice-president, Mike Pence, to name only a few. These are the people who are in Trump’s inner circle, and whose advice and counsel he seems to take at face value. These are the people who support the concept of Israel as a nation-state for the Jews, which by definition makes it apartheid. These are the people who disdain international law, and want to continue ‘negotiations’ that only buy time for Israel to steal more and more Palestinian land. And these are the people who want Israel to have complete hegemony in the Middle East; its main rival is Iran, so in their twisted, Zionist minds, Iran must be destroyed. The amount of suffering that would cause is never factored into their deadly equations.

With a president as unstable and erratic as Trump, it’s impossible to predict with any accuracy what he will do next. But hostility toward Iran is one thing if it is just words; any attack on that nation would cause more trouble and problems than Trump can possibly imagine. Iran is a powerful country in its own right, but is also allied with Russia, and any aggression towards Iran will bring the strength of the Russian military into play. This is the Pandora’s box that Trump is threatening to open.

Originally published by The Balkan Post.

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Filed under Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Political Musings, U.S. Politics

Pity the Democrats and Republicans

It is a rare occasion when one can only pity both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The GOP (Generally Opposed to Progress) has hitched its rather dilapidated wagon to a racist, sexist, narcissistic man-child of a star who has only the most tenuous grasp on reality. But it is not them we are here to discuss today. It is the Democrats, the Party that, had it been a person, would never have been voted most likely to succeed upon graduation from high school.

Currently, one would think that the Democrats would be poised for great success. Mid-term elections are approaching; the president, Donald Trump, has record-breaking low approval scores, and there is dissatisfaction with him from coast to coast. Now, one might think, is the time for the Democrats to clearly articulate their platform, allowing the populace to know exactly where the party stands, and what it will do to achieve its goals. This might include such popular items as sensible gun-control; recognition of Palestine’s human-rights struggles and Israel’s violations of international law; income equality, gender equality, and an end to institutionalized racism, among other things. These, according to public opinion polls, are topics that resonate with voters who mainly identify as Democratic.

But no! Horror of horrors! Best, according to the Party leaders, to lay low, and allow dissatisfaction with the Republicans to drive voters into the arms of the Democratic Party. Maintain the status quo, don’t rock the boat, steady as she goes, and adhere to every other tired out cliché that means don’t show any backbone. So what if voters enthusiastically evicted a ten-term, good-old-boy Congress member from New York, in favor of a socialist Democrat! Who cares that a large swath of the Party still feels the deep wounds of betrayal from the Party’s manipulation of delegates to give the 2016 presidential nomination to the candidate who is corporate America incarnate, Hillary Clinton, instead of the (somewhat) more progressive Bernie Sanders! The power brokers, such as they are, in the Democratic Party are not willing to surrender their positions, and are terrified to risk what they have by showing anything related to statesmanship. Those currently in power have been elected and re-elected despite their namby-pamby positions, or non-positions, on the current issues of the day. Why do anything differently now?

Well, we can answer that question, although the people who really need to hear the answer won’t bother to pay any attention. We’ll look at a few factors that one would think would cause the Party that claims to be progressive (you can stop laughing now) to take careful note.

  • Following a long series of mass shootings, high school students in Florida finally said ‘enough’. Several of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre travelled around the country, saying that if the current Congress won’t act, a new Congress must be installed. Millions of people in this age cohort will be eligible to vote for the first time in 2018. Study after study shows that they are overwhelmingly to the left of where the Democratic Party is today. They probably won’t stay home, but they may seek third-party candidates, so they can vote for someone they actually believe in, rather than the slightly lesser of two evils. But if Democrats renew calls for sensible gun control, including the banning of semi-automatic weapons, they may find these new voters flocking to the polls to vote for them.
  • Israeli government officials are having apoplexy over what they correctly see as an increasing disconnect between Jewish-Americans and the racist, apartheid Jewish state of Israel. In the aforementioned 14th Congressional district of New York, twenty-year incumbent Joe Crowley, financed in part by AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) went down to a crushing defeat at the hands of newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been highly critical of Israel. Might not some other candidates want to take a page from her playbook, and speak out for human rights and international law? Or are even those topics too controversial for Democrats to address?
  • Polls indicate that most voters aren’t thrilled with the newly-enacted tax reform (Surprise! Surprise!), which was an early Christmas present to the rich. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan showed how out-of-touch he was after the tax bill became law, when he ‘tweeted’ this: “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week… she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for a year.” So while this secretary received a whopping $78.00 annual raise, the richest 1% of the nation’s population receive about 34% of the total benefits from the multi-billion dollar tax reform. A platform by the Democrats to really reform taxes would probably resonate, even with people who are $78.00 richer as a result of the GOP version.
  • Trump and Company are beating the war drums for ‘regime change’ of the democratically-elected government of Iran. Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) against the wishes and advice of nearly the entire international community, and his own military advisors. Wouldn’t a plank in the Democratic platform that says that Democrats will work to reinstate U.S. involvement in the JCPOA, and attempt to prevent chaos in yet another Middle Eastern country, possibly have wide appeal? Yes, U.S. citizens, inexplicably, seem to love their wars, but a new breed of voter is on the horizon, and will be pulling levers in voting booths in just three short months. They may be a bit less enthused about sending U.S. soldiers to die for Israel, whose influence was a main factor in Trump’s decision to abandon the JCPOA.
  • The Republicans have made good on their promise to deprive millions of people of health care. Democrats who will unflinchingly condemn those actions, and vow to reinstate the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), or something better, may find unexpected popularity.
  • Young people often graduate from universities and colleges in the U.S. with crippling debt. Even if the free tuition advocated by Ocasio-Cortez and others isn’t possible at present (it is, but this writer doesn’t see the Democratic Party ever going that far), couldn’t interest rates be lowered? Why is it necessary for lenders to make huge profits from the efforts of the next generation to become educated? And couldn’t there be some kind of debt forgiveness program? Even 25% would be a windfall to many people.

These are just a few of the many areas in which the Democrats could differentiate themselves from the Republicans. Will they do it? Will the Party unite, look at not only what the people want, but also what is morally right, and stand up for those principles? When pigs fly. Government officials today (this writer refuses to refer to them as ‘representatives’, since they represent only special interests and anything that will benefit them personally, and not the voting populace) are only concerned with keeping their high-paying jobs with almost unlimited benefits. The idea of public service, working for the greater good, or sacrificing for those who are less fortunate are alien concepts to them.

It is possible that the Democratic Party will take control of one or both houses of Congress as a result of the November elections. If that happens, not much will change. The NRA (National Rifle Association), AIPAC, various military lobbies and others will still be the ones actually in control. The U.S. voters will have participated once again in what government officials proudly and disingenuously point to as a hallmark of U.S. democracy, but what is in reality an exercise in futility. With each election, the names may change, but all the injustice, domestically and internationally, continues.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Presidential Candidates 2020: a Preview of the Democratic Contenders

Apparently, two years out isn’t too early to start speculating on who the hapless Democrats may run for president in 2020. Let’s remember that in the last seven elections, they have only been able to elect two presidents (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), despite only losing the popular vote once (George Bush’s second term, and the legitimacy of that is not something we will explore right now). Whoever they run may in two years may win the popular vote, but still not move into the White House. This is democracy, U.S. style.

So who are the candidates currently on the horizon? Please take a moment to prepare yourselves emotionally, since the picture this writer is about to paint is not a pretty one. In fact, it is downright terrifying.

  • Bernie Sanders. Yes, the darling of whatever remains of the leftist part of the Democratic Party still sees Sanders as the savior. The ‘Bernistas’ received a shot in the arm with the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the New York’s 14th district primary in June, when the much-feared word ‘socialism’ began its rehabilitation.

What does Bernie have going against him? For one thing, by the time the 2020 election rolls around, he will be 79 years old. Secondly, it will be difficult for some people to forget his enthusiastic endorsement of the woman who cheated him out of the nomination in 2016. It’s not as if there were no other candidates he could have endorsed. Gloria La Riva, who represented the Party for Socialism and Liberation, comes to mind. Her platform was one that anyone of intelligence and compassion would support.

  • Joe Biden. Now there’s a name to bring excitement to any dedicated Democrat. Don’t the words ‘Joe Biden’ conjure up change, dynamism and charisma? Can’t the reader imagine young people throwing themselves enthusiastically behind a ticket led by the former vice president? No, this writer can’t, either. If the party wants to once again shoot itself in the foot, nominating Biden might be just the ticket.

We will also mention that the former vice president will be a few weeks shy of his 78th birthday when some small percent of eligible voters next cast a presidential ballot. This is not to imply that a 78-year-old can’t be energic, sharp as a whip and ready to run the U.S; but that doesn’t describe Biden.

  • Hillary Clinton. You were warned; a terrifying picture was about to unfold to your view. Yes, there are rumors abounding now that Clinton, former First Lady, U.S. senator and Secretary of State, will once again toss her tiara into the ring for another go-round with Donald Trump. If the Democratic Party really wants to commit suicide, surely there are less painful ways of doing so. Clinton lost the election (granted, she won the popular vote by over 3 million votes; see note above about U.S-style democracy) to one of the least qualified, most dangerous candidates ever nominated for president, and now she may actually think she has a chance of beating him. The election of Trump was never an endorsement of his policies; his approval rating has rarely gone above 40%, and never above 50%. No, his election was not an endorsement of Trump, but a startling repudiation of Clinton. Her blatant greed, blind ambition, disdain for the poor and less fortunate, her ties to Wall Street and her questionable ethics all led large swaths of the population to vote for the odious Trump.

Why, one might reasonably ask, would the Democrats want to nominate someone who so un-democratically manipulated the delegates in 2016 to wrest the nomination from Bernie Sanders? Does the word ‘democracy’ mean nothing to the Democrats?

On the plus side, of these three potential candidates, Clinton is the most ‘youthful’. She will turn a mere 73 a few weeks before the next election. Does anyone remember a time, perhaps back in the days of George McGovern (only 50 when he ran for president), when the Democrats were the party of the young people? Has that entire age cohort now been dismissed from consideration?

  • Elizabeth Warren. The junior senator from Massachusetts is forever saying she isn’t interested in the presidency. We’ll see. She gets publicity every time Trump notices her, since he insists, in his juvenile way, on calling her ‘Pocahontas’. She did give a very good impression when questioning bankers following the bailout during the administration of Barack Obama, and she certainly put several of Trump’s Cabinet appointees on the hot seat during their appearances before the senate, but none of that has really resulted in very much. All form; no substance. And can one ever forget, in 2014, when Apartheid Israel was bombing Gaza, and she was asked her opinion on the matter, she actually ran away from the reporter! Later, apparently after seeing that pro-Israel lobbies donated $115,203.00 to her campaign, she endorsed that genocidal activity. But to give her the minimal credit she may be due, she has been critical of Israeli actions against unarmed Palestinians demonstrating at the border.

And just to keep things consistent, Warren will be 71 on the next presidential election day.

It is still very early days. No one has actually declared for the nomination yet, and these four, and who knows how many others, may rise like a phoenix, and then flame out, adding to the debris that always litters the campaign trail. This writer, unfortunately, can think of no Democrat whose name he can suggest; being an elected member of the House or Senate in the U.S. automatically means that one has sold one’s soul to the highest corporate or lobby bidder. This is nothing new; as Matthew said in the New Testament, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.  Congressional members have shown that their ‘treasure’ is the money they get for their campaigns, and these are not the $5.00 and $10.00 donations that some misguided citizens occasionally send them. During her muddied career, Clinton received $2,473.367 from pro-Israeli lobbies. That’s quite a treasure, and there can be no doubt about where it leads her heart.

What is to be done? Surely, Trump must be prevented from another term in office, but what are, or will be, the alternatives? Probably, on the Democratic side, another old or aging white man or woman who is bought and paid for by corporations and lobby groups.

As mentioned earlier, the world is still more than two years away from the quadrennial circus known as U.S. presidential elections; it is probably about six months away from the first candidates to declare their candidacy. Is it too early for this writer to encourage readers to look to third-party candidates? The futility of voting for the lesser of two evils was brought home to him clearly in 2016, when there didn’t seem to be one. So he found the candidacy of Ms. La Riva, and voted for her.

While the outcome of any U.S. election probably doesn’t impact this writer as much as it does other U.S. citizens (he fled to Canada after the 2004 election; things were that bad then. He can’t imagine how fast he’d have left if he’d still been in the U.S. in 2016!), the leader of a war-mongering, nuclear-armed nation is of concern to everyone on the planet. If enough people take a stand, and say a resounding ‘no’ to both major parties, perhaps, just perhaps, there is a chance for change. The probability is small, but the consequences of not acting are too great.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Israel Enshrines Apartheid

Remarkably, there are still those on the planet, many of them members of the United States Congress, who believe that Israel is not an apartheid state. Why they can believe such a fantasy is a mystery, unless one considers that they are somehow befuddled by the amount of money pro-Israeli lobbies contribute to their election campaigns. But let us take a few minutes to see what apartheid actually means, and if it is, indeed, fair to apply that ugly label to Israel.

We will accept the definition of apartheid as stated by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. While the definition is detailed and lengthy, we will look only at a few of the key provisions.

Basically, apartheid consists of “… inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” We really need to no farther; based solely on this one phrase, Israel is an apartheid regime.

But the Convention goes into specifics, and so shall we. The following are just some of the things that typify an apartheid regime.

  • “Murder of members of a racial group or groups”. Israeli soldiers and settlers kill Palestinian men, women and children indiscriminately, and with nearly complete impunity. Since 2000, nearly 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. In that same time, about 1,200 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. These numbers include about 120 Israeli children, but at least 2,200 Palestinian children. For example, in July of 2015, settlers living illegally in the West Bank firebombed a Palestinian home, killing three people. An 18-month old toddler was burned alive; his brother spent nearly a year in the hospital. The perpetrator received a 10-month sentence.
  • “Arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups.” Palestinians living in the West Bank are subject to home raids at any time of the day or night. Israeli soldiers break in, ransack the house, steal belongings and arrest any males over the age of twelve. Often there are no charges issued, and those arrested can be detained for years without charge.
  • “Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.” The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, which is gaining traction worldwide, has come to the attention of the Israeli government. Those who support it are forbidden from entering Israel, and churches, businesses and labor unions around the world who withdraw from doing business with Israel because of its apartheid practices are condemned by Israeli government officials.

All this is certainly bad enough, but Israel’s leaders were not content to just wear the ugly badge of apartheid; they wanted to make it official. On July 19, the government passed a law declaring that Israel is ‘the nation state of the Jewish people’. It makes Hebrew the only official language, downgrading Arabic to the position of ‘having a special status’ in Israel.

With Israel now officially the nation-state of the Jewish people, what happens to the Arabs and people of African descent who reside there? Many of the Arabs, or their families, it must be remembered, have been there since before Israel ever existed, and they now find themselves in foreign and hostile territory.

What might this mean in practical application? The Israeli Minister for Social Equality said that the law could assist Israel’s efforts to deport asylum seekers from Africa. Such efforts have been struck down by the Supreme Court, but the new law carries roughly the same weight that an amendment to the U.S. constitution has, so future efforts may be seen as legal.

For Palestinians, representing about 20% of Israel’s population, who demand equal rights, the new law simply tells them ‘no’. They are not Jewish, and have no business living in the Jewish nation-state. Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint List, said that Israel “… has passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us (Arabs) that we will always be second-class citizens.”

Even Benny Begin, the son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, criticized the bill before abstaining from voting. “This is not a decision I expected from the Likud leadership,” he said, referring to the party that his father founded.

In the United States, which is slowly evolving to see Israel as the perpetrator and Palestine as the victim, Jewish groups expressed disapproval. The American Jewish Committee said that the law “puts at risk the commitment of Israel’s founders to build a country that is both Jewish and democratic.”

Jeremy Ben Ami, president of J Street, another U.S., pro-Israel group, said that the bill sends “… a message to the Arab community, the LGBT community and other minorities in Israel, that they are not and never will be equal citizens.”

We will return now to our original question: how is it possible that anyone can believe that Israel isn’t an apartheid state? Not convinced? Let’s look at a few more facts on the ground.

  • Israel builds roads in the West Bank that only Israelis can drive on. If a new Israeli road crosses an existing road that Palestinians use, Palestinian are not able to cross the new road.
  • Palestinians are subject to different laws than Israelis.
  • If a Palestinian is accused of a crime, his home, and the homes of his relatives, will be bulldozed. This never happens to Israelis accused of crimes.

All of this describes a brutal, cruel, rogue, apartheid regime, and it all describes Israel. U.S. money and support can’t hide the facts any more, despite their past success in doing so.

What is to be done? Why isn’t apartheid in Israel criticized, sanctioned and shunned as it was a generation ago in South Africa? The only difference is the power of pro-Israel lobbies, which cause U.S. politicians to overlook human rights, international law and basic common decency. This power is reflected in the corporate-owned news media, which seldom reports any crimes against the Palestinians committed by Israel, and ignores the dismal, horrific conditions in which Israel forces Palestinians to live.

Social media has gone a long way toward changing this, by enabling people to see what’s happening without depending on the evening news. Efforts by Facebook and Twitter to censor news of Palestine must be opposed, and new channels of information must be built.

Apartheid was defeated in South Africa; it must be defeated in Israel, too. The lives of millions of Palestinians depend on it.

Originally published in RPFront.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Lies about Palestine from the United States

Just last week, an unholy quartet, driven by the ugly racism known as Zionism, published an opinion piece on the pro-Israel ‘news’ site, CNN. This group included the U.S.’s clown-like ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley; the rabidly racist U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman; the incompetent and unqualified ‘senior advisor’ to President Trump, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and finally, to round it all out, Jason Greenblatt, the ‘special representative for international negotiations’.

The title of this piece was quite provocative: “For Gaza peace, tell the truth about Hamas.” We will dissect a few of the most interesting statements from this article, and comment on them.

·         “Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza….” The esteemed writers seem to forget that Hamas ‘controls’ Gaza, because it was voted in, during elections that the international community said were democratic. The U.S. and some other nations have designated Hamas a ‘terrorist’ organization, although they say nothing about IDF violence which causes suffering and death far beyond anything Hamas is capable of, even if that were its goal.

Also, to say that Hamas ‘controls’ Gaza is a blatant lie. It is Israel that controls Gaza, blockading it by land, sea and air, preventing much-needed supplies, including medicines and building equipment, from entering. At present, Israel will not allow cooking oil to be imported into Gaza, causing hundreds of thousands of people to be forced to cook over open fires.

·         Hamas “…has been inciting the violence at the Israeli boundary fence for months….” It does seem that Haley and Company have not been acquainted with those inconvenient things called ‘facts’. Peaceful demonstrations at the border of Israel have been met with sniper fire, wherein hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including clearly marked medics and members of the press, have been killed. These killings, in case anyone is unaware, are considered war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Why don’t Haley and her cohorts comment on that?

Also, Palestinians never breached the border; they were demonstrating on Palestinian land; they were shot while standing in their own country.

·         “…using Palestinian civilians as human shields.” This is simply untrue; there is no evidence whatsoever to support this charge.

·         “And Hamas and other terror groups have fired more than 100 rockets….” We have already commented on these politicians’ designation of Hamas as a terrorist group. But regarding those ‘rockets’: Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an ardent critic of Israel, refers to them as ‘enhanced fireworks’. Calling them ‘rockets’ serves a purpose for both sides: Palestinians know that something is being done on their behalf, and Israel can ‘defend’ itself against rocket fire.

Also, it is worth noting that in less than 60 days in 2014, Israel fired more rockets into Palestine than Palestine had fired into Israel in the previous 14 years.

·          “…and sent untold numbers of flaming kites, some displaying swastikas, into Israel in the past month, hoping to kill as many Israeli civilians and destroy as much property as possible.” Flaming kites! Imagine! And all Israel has is the most advanced weaponry in the world, some if it illegal under international law, which it routinely uses against the Palestinians.

Perhaps Haley and her minions have forgotten that, according to international law, an occupied people has the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. The sending of flaming kites is within the legal right of the Palestinians.

But if they have forgotten about international law, perhaps we could remind them that it is also a violation of international law to for the occupier to move residents of the occupier’s nation permanently onto the occupied land. Over half a million illegal settlers are now living on land stolen from the Palestinians, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that not one of them will ever be removed.

 

So, perhaps we need an article entitled ‘For Gaza peace, tell the truth about Israel’. And what is that truth?

·         Israel occupies the West Bank, Jerusalem and blockades the Gaza Strip in violation of international law.

·         The people in Gaza live in near-starvation conditions, because Israel refuses to allow them to import sufficient food.

·         In the West Bank, Israel has constructed hundreds of illegal check points, arbitrarily opened and closed, making what should be a short commute an hours-long ordeal for Palestinians. Palestinians have been denied timely medical care, because they were blocked from crossing a checkpoint established in their own land. Babies have been born at check points because of this, with some of them dying because they were forbidden to cross to obtain acutely needed treatment.

·         In the West Bank, there are well-maintained roads that are for the exclusive use of Israelis; Palestinian are not allowed to drive on them. If a new Israeli road crosses over a Palestinian road, Palestinians are not allowed to cross the new intersection. This, in common language, is known as ‘apartheid’.

The list goes on.

Let us take a minute to talk about the role of Greenblatt, the ‘special representative for international negotiations’.  Negotiations between Israel and Palestine, brokered for decades by the United States, have been worse than worthless. They have enabled the U.S. to say that Israel is willing to sit at the table, but Palestine’s leaders are not being reasonable. It must be remembered that negotiations can only occur between two parties, each of which has something the other wants, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. The U.S. allows Israel to take whatever it wants from Palestine with complete impunity.

Additionally, negotiations are not necessary. All that is required is for Israel to adhere to international law. If a man robs a bank and is then caught by the police, he is not asked to negotiate with the manager of the bank regarding home much of the stolen money to return. He must return it all, and pay the penalties for his crime. Israel must be required by the international community to vacate the West Bank and remove the blockade of the Gaza Strip. There is nothing to negotiate.

There have been reports that Trump will soon release his ‘deal of the century’ regarding Palestine and Israel. The few aspects of it that have been leaked to the press indicate that it provides Israel with everything it wants, and Palestine with nothing it wants. Currently, Israel is tightening its already brutal and deadly siege on the Gaza Strip, in an apparent effort to make things so difficult there that Palestine’s leaders will agree to anything. It is unlikely that even the weak, spineless traitor Mahmoud Abbas, the ‘leader’ of Fatah in the West Bank, would agree to this farce; there is no way the people of Palestine ever would.

Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi has said: “The Palestinians are the only people on earth required to guarantee the security of the occupier, while Israel is the only country that demands protection from its victims.” This bizarre philosophy is fully embraced by the mighty United States.

But Haley, Greenblatt, Kushner and Friedman can write all the nonsense they want; international condemnation of Israel is ever-increasing, as more people see the reality of the situation, rather than accepting the lies the governments of the U.S. and Israel insist on perpetrating. The suffering of the Palestinian people continues, but, like in South Africa a generation ago, apartheid will be defeated, and Palestine will be free.

 

Originally published by the USJournal.

 

 

 

 

 

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Has It Really Come to This?

As a United States citizen who fled the country when George Bush (a great statesman compared to the orange buffoon now in the White House) was elected president in 2004, this writer has since observed conditions in the land of his nativity from the relative comfort and safety of his adopted home in Canada. To say that he is puzzled would be to understate matters.

Let us look at just a few of the items causing his bewilderment.

  • President Donald Trump embraces racism, and has never, from the start of his campaign for the presidency, attempted to hide that fact. Indeed, he has broadcast it proudly, from insulting Mexican immigrants, to attempting to ban Muslims from entering the country, to saying that, when violence broke out at a racist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that there were people to blame on all sides.
  • Trump makes up things as he goes along, and not just in the category of trivia. In that category, he proclaimed proudly that his inauguration was viewed by more people than any other presidential inauguration in history, despite the fact that that was a blatant falsehood. But he also says that he lost the popular vote due to voter fraud (no evidence), denied making misogynist statements he was videotaped making, brags about accomplishing more in one year than all his predecessors did in their entire terms, with the possible exception of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and calls every news item he doesn’t like ‘fake news’.
  • He denounces U.S. intelligence agencies (more than worthy of denunciation, this writer might add), not based on evidence, although there is plenty available, but because that’s his gut feeling.
  • Trump has stated that the free press is an enemy of democracy.
  • He criticized football players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism in the U.S. One might think that, 1) shining a light on racism would be a good thing; 2) the president of the United States might want to take seriously such charges, and 3) the president might have more important considerations than what happens at football games.
  • One hesitates to criticize a member of Trump’s family, but First Lady Melania Trump, whose sartorial choices are observed the world over, went to visit children in U.S. ‘tender age facilities’, where children and toddlers who were cruelly ripped from their parents’ arms by her husband’s henchmen are stored like so much cattle, wearing a coat saying “I really don’t care; do you?” To whom is this acceptable?
  • Lobbies run the government. This includes pro-Israel lobbies, which are so powerful as to get U.S. elected officials to overlook the most shocking violations of international law and human rights that exist on the planet today.
  • A special investigation is underway to explore possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, yet there have been no Congressional or special investigations to explore U.S. meddling in elections around the world, meddling that has cost millions of lives.
  • Opinion polls that repeatedly show support or opposition to something are ignored, if certain powerful lobby groups find them displeasing. For example, surveys continually indicate that an overwhelming majority of citizens support sensible gun laws, including banning semi-automatic weapons, but the NRA (National Rifle Association) will not tolerate any such thing. And the NRA is one of the lobby groups that is very generous to the members of Congress that it has purchased.
  • Congress accepts, with only the most minimal grumbling, all of the above.
  • Trump’s approval rating continues to hover around 40%, with that number much higher among Republicans. What is wrong with these people?
  • And to top it all off, these very members of Congress, who ignore the will of the people, sell themselves to the highest bidder, and kiss up to the abominable president, all announce at every possible occasion that U.S. ‘democracy’ is the envy of the world.

This writer doesn’t know exactly when he fell down the rabbit hole, but it seems he’s drinking tea with Alice while the Mad Hatter runs the show.

With the mid-term elections, and control of the House of Representatives and the Senate possibly hanging in the balance, fast approaching, various candidates have obtained this writer’s email address, and are constantly imploring him to send money, in order to defeat Republicans. Sometimes they send him a lengthy survey; after dutifully answering the questions (probably in ways unexpected by the sender), he reaches the end, and learns that, in order for him to be able to send in his completed questionnaire, he must donate to the Party. This makes him most suspicious about how interested they really are in his views, as opposed to his money. They receive neither.

Yet seldom do they state what they will do; they seem to assume that registered Democrats (this writer hasn’t yet bothered to register with the Socialist Party; he enjoys seeing the stupid things Democratic leaders and candidates say to him in their solicitation letters) see the GOP as evil incarnate, from which only the angelic Democrats can save the country. Sadly for them, this writer doesn’t adhere to this view.

Trump has fallen into some disfavor even with Republican officials, due to what is seen as complete capitulation to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is darkly suggest that perhaps Putin ‘has something’ on Trump, that the great orange one doesn’t want exposed. What on earth, we might ask, could that possibly be? For a man whose public behavior would humiliate the most delusionally- narcissistic individuals among us, but who seems to bask and glory in it, what could possibly coerce him to behave in any way against his own wishes?

Can anyone wonder why this writer views the currently happenings in the U.S with horror-stricken amazement? Is there some logical explanation that he’s overlooking?

This is how Trump would ‘make America great again’, although the U.S. never achieved anything near the mythical greatness that he and his minions claim to want to replicate. That so-called ‘greatness’ was based on genocide, slavery, racism and unparalleled death and worldwide injustice. Members of both parties only recoil in horror at such atrocities when perpetrated by the other party, if they object at all.

Much of the world’s leaders seem only interested in money and power, to the detriment of much of the world’s population. It will take more than farcical elections in the U.S. to change that tragic situation.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Trump’s Proposed ‘Deal of the Century’ Will Only Prolong Palestinian Suffering

United States President Donald Trump, who has no bigger fan than himself, is frequently heard to discuss ‘deals’. He states, and probably believes, that he is the best deal-maker of all time. His book, The Art of the Deal, further proclaims his alleged deal-making abilities.

However, when it comes to actual deals, the evidence to support his self-declared greatness simply doesn’t exist. He criticizes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as the ‘worst deal’ of all time, despite the differing opinions of his military advisors, and all but one of the U.S.’s allies. His violation of that agreement, which also violated international law, is not any concern of his. He brags that he will make a better deal, although he has never explained why he thinks the Iranian government would trust the U.S. to keep any agreement now.

Since his successful campaign for the White House, he has said that he will make the ‘deal of the century’, ending the Palestine-Israel ‘conflict’. One views any such statements from Trump with suspicion, considering that some of his biggest campaign financiers are dedicated Zionists, and he has given responsibility for this ‘deal’ to his obnoxious and ill-qualified son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has investments in illegal Israeli settlements, and is a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

After teasing the world that he was working on such a deal, details have now been leaked. It seems, from this preliminary view, that Netanyahu himself could have devised the plan, since it gives Israel everything and Palestine nothing.

Before we look at some of the details, we’ll review a few provisions of international law as they relate directly to Israel and Palestine.

The international community recognizes Palestine’s and Israel’s borders as those that were established by the United Nations in 1947. The immorality, unfairness and criminality of the decision to partition Palestine will not be discussed here.
Citizens of the occupier’s country cannot be moved permanently into the occupied nation. Over 500,000 illegal settlers now live in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Netanyahu has stated that not one will ever be required to depart.
Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of Palestine. This was reiterated by an overwhelming vote of the U.N. General Assembly not three months ago.
The occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip, have all been declared illegal by international law.

Now, on to some of the details of Trump’s proposed ‘deal of the century’, and what it would mean for Palestine.

Palestine would be granted ‘limited’ sovereignty over about one-half of the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. The rest would be under the control of Israel, which would result in maintaining the status quo. Under the dubious leadership of the traitor Mahmoud Abbas, Israel controls the entire West Bank with checkpoints, house raids, kidnapping and murder. Under Trump’s deal, nothing would change.
The Palestinian capital would be located in a suburb of Jerusalem, Abu Dis. Palestinians believe, and rightly so, that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. There is no way this proposal will ever be acceptable to them.
Hamas would be required to disarm. The West Bank disarmed a decade ago, and that has resulted in untold suffering for the Palestinians, as they have been shot, arrested without charge, imprisoned for long periods of time, brutally harassed and oppressed in every way imaginable. They have seen their land stolen to make room for Israel-only residences and roads. Should Hamas disarm in the Gaza Strip, the result there would be the same.
There would be no contiguous nation of Palestine; the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would be separated by Israel. As it is today, the ‘deal of the century’ would still prevent Palestinians in the West Bank from ever visiting family or friends in Gaza, and vice-versa.
To summarize, Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ would give Israel everything it wants, and Palestine nothing it wants. Palestine would be a separated nation, without the means to defend itself, and with only partial sovereignty. The annexation of the entire nation of Palestine, which has been slowly happening for decades, would be accelerated.

Since it is blatantly obvious that there is no possible way Palestine, even under the treasonous leadership of Abbas, would accept this agreement, why is it being made? There can only be one purpose for the introduction of such a one-sided deal, one that is consistent with U.S. policy towards Palestine for decades. Once this deal is officially offered and rejected, the U.S. and Israel will say that the Palestinian government and its people are not interested in peace, they only want the destruction of Israel, they aren’t willing to negotiate, etc., etc. The corporate-owned media will repeat these lies, and lies told often enough are often believed.

People around the world who support Palestine are faced with a challenging situation. International condemnation of Israel is ever-growing as its constant atrocities are brought to light. However, with some social media outlets, including Facebook, now censoring news of these atrocities, supporters of justice, human rights and international law must increase their efforts. Israel must not be allowed to continue its U.S.-financed oppression of the Palestinian people.

There is, however, real progress being made. Last week, a bill passed the Irish parliament’s upper house that would ban Israeli products produced in the occupied territories from being sold in Ireland. In the U.S., the General Convention of the Episcopal Church moved to divest from companies that are complicit in Israel violations of international law. Also in the U.S., a pro-Palestinian political newcomer, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez defeated an incumbent Israeli puppet in a primary election in a New York City district last month. Due to the fact that far more Democrats than Republicans are registered in that district, it is likely that Ocasio-Cortez will go to Congress in January.

Yet for all this, nothing has changed for the better for the Palestinians; if anything, conditions continue to deteriorate. Trump’s proposed ‘deal of the century’ will only prolong their suffering.

There is much work to be done, and those of us outside of Palestine who support international law, justice and human rights, must redouble our efforts.

Originally published by AHTribune.

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Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Palestine, U.S., U.S. Politics