Category Archives: Apartheid

Tulsi Gabbard: the New Democratic ‘Savior’

The grossly misnamed Democratic Party has a brand new savior. Yes, with former Senator Hillary Clinton having been vanquished, and her ardent cheerleader, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, being ‘old news’, one Tulsi Gabbard, Representative from the state of Hawaii, has ridden in on her white stallion to save the day.

Ms. Gabbard gained the attention of the Democrats when she dared criticize President Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria, saying that without hard evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was, indeed, responsible for the alleged chemical attack that killed several Syrian citizens, there should be no retaliation. It is puzzling that Ms. Gabbard seemed to be almost alone in this assertion, since it would seem to be common sense that before punishing anyone for anything, it should be known that that person was responsible for whatever deed is being punished for. And why U.S. government officials feel the need to punish any international entity for anything is a topic for a different essay.

But this position has launched Ms. Gabbard’s new career in what passes for the progressive wing of the party, as a leader in the Democratic Party, and a potential contender for the White House.

Sadly, like many Democrats, Ms. Gabbard is ‘PEP’: Progressive except for Palestine. She has said that she believes Palestine and Israel must negotiate the terms of peace, and supports an independent, demitiliarized Palestine. A few quotations from her official website are instructive:

“I know how important our enduring alliance with Israel is. My vote upholds my commitment to maintaining and strengthening this alliance, as well as my long-held position that the most viable path to peace between Israel and Palestine can be found through both sides negotiating a two-state solution.

“Ultimately, a negotiated solution must come from Israelis and Palestinians themselves, and can only happen when both parties are committed to peace, where they alone determine the terms of the settlement.  I co-sponsored H.Res.23 which reaffirms the U.S. commitment to Israel, and a negotiated settlement leading to a sustainable two-state solution that re-affirms Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state and establishes a demilitarized democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to support bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine in order to bring an end to this enduring conflict.”

As we dissect these few sentences, we must remember that between November, 2014 and November, 2016, the illustrious Ms. Gabbard received $21,975 from pro-Israeli lobbies. This is a mere pittance when compared to the contributions of some of her colleagues, with Illinois Representative Bradley Scott Schneider being the big winner, with a windfall of $300,932 during that same time period. But that grand prize is one that Ms. Gabbard, if she plays her Zionist cards right, can obtain, or even exceed.

+ “I know how important our enduring alliance with Israel is.” Ms. Gabbard may know it, but would someone, anyone, please enlighten this writer? Why should the U.S. have any alliance with an apartheid state, one that spits in its eye and then demands, and receives, billions of dollars in aid?

+ “…the most viable path to peace between Israel and Palestine can be found through both sides negotiating a two-state solution.” Again, this writer needs to be enlightened. If I am in ‘negotiations’ with another party, and I am able to take from that party whatever I want, whenever I want, and give nothing in return, what would be the advantage to me in negotiating? Oh, I might proclaim to whatever idiotic entity is encouraging negotiations that I am willing to sit down with the other party, without preconditions (meaning I can continue taking whatever I want as we ‘negotiate’), and then actually do so, but it will have no meaning. I will never honestly negotiate, since doing so won’t be in my best interest.

+ Gabbard reaffirms “Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state.” That is a two-pronged sword, and we will try to prevent being stabbed by either one.

Like most Democrats, Ms. Gabbard does not seem to understand the root words from which the term originates. Basically, it means ‘citizen rule’, and implies equality. In a democracy, there are not separate rules for different ethnic and religious groups, as there are in Israel. Yet she is willing to spout the happy mantras that have served the party for so long, despite the fact that they have long since their luster among the populace.

She further affirms Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Again, the meaning of that term is unclear. The only reasonable definition contradicts the idea of a democracy. If Israel is to be a Jewish state, than non-Jews living there will not have the same rights, as is true today.

The concept of a ‘Jewish, democratic state’ is a contradiction in terms. For generations, the U.S. was, in effect, a ‘White European, democratic state’, meaning that all laws favored the predominately white population, and everyone else was a second-class citizen. Democracy? This writer thinks not.

+ Gabbard further wants to “establish a demilitarized democratic Palestinian state”. How is it possible for anyone to utter those words with a straight face? Set aside for a moment the fact that an independent Palestine will have a mortal enemy at its border, one that has been actively working on its destruction for decades. Leave out for just a minute the fact that that enemy has an extremely powerful military, and is backed by the strongest and most violent nation on the planet. Even without those considerations, why should any country be prevented by any other country from having the means to defend its land and citizens?

All of this indicates that Ms. Gabbard is either ignorant of international law, or cares nothing for it. International law states clearly, and this has been reiterated by numerous United Nations resolutions, that the occupation of Palestine by Israel is illegal. This, apparently, means nothing to Ms. Gabbard.

It’s also worth noting, that the celebrated Representative from Hawaii also condemns the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement.

And this is the new savior; this is the ‘new breed’ of ‘progressive’ Democrat who will carry the mantle of the war-mongering former President Barack Obama; former standard-bearer, the war-mongering Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the war-mongering Democrats.

This is what ‘progressive’ has come to mean in Democratic Party circles. The party has long been nothing but a cosmetically-different version of the Republican Party, with opposition to Republican policies only on display when the GOP is in power; the same policies, with few exceptions, are promoted when the Democrats are in power, and one constant is the bowing at the Israeli altar and the accompanying complete disdain for the human rights struggles of the Palestinian people. And with that, of course, is an equal disregard for international law.

As long as the government and the corporate-owned media are able to maintain their stranglehold on what passes for the two-party system in the U.S., nothing will change. Politicians will do the bidding of the lobbies that support them, ignoring the will of the people. Suffering in the U.S. and globally will be ignored, as long as the U.S.’s elected officials are able to keep their low-challenging, high-paying jobs.

To say that a third party movement, a real one not beholden to any outside interests but with the good of the people in mind, is long overdue, is a classic understatement.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Leave a Comment

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

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.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Apartheid, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Palestine, Uncategorized

Kerry, Netanyahu and the Settlements

Following the recent double-whammy against Israel, the first being the United Nations resolution condemning and demanding a stop to all settlement activity, and the second being United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech slamming Israeli policy, Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu seems beside himself in fury.  Mr. Kerry, he lamented shortly after the secretary’s speech, “obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. He then made this incredible statement: “No one wants peace more than the people of Israel”. Well, there you are.

Has it really come to this? Has reality really disappeared from the international radar? The leader of a wealthy, prominent nation, one that receives more foreign aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined, actually spouts such nonsense, and is not be laughed off the international stage. Well, since Donald Trump is president-elect of the U.S., this writer supposes he has answered his own questions.

Mr. Netanyahu also said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to condemning what he called Palestinian terrorism, and accused the secretary of “attacking the only democracy in the Middle East”.

The speech contained other pearls of twisted wisdom, but time and space prevent a thorough study of each of them. But let’s do our own fact-checking on the few mentioned herein, and see what we might be able to learn.

  • “No one want peace more than the people of Israel”.  Let’s see now. Israelis evict Palestinians from their homes for a variety of reasons: to live in them themselves; to destroy them to make room for Israeli-only ‘communities’ (a new word being bandied about to sanitize illegal settlements); to create roads that non-Israelis can’t even cross over, let alone drive on; to extend the apartheid wall. Israeli settlers commit crimes, including murder, against Palestinians, with nearly complete impunity, often protected by Israeli soldiers, who themselves commit unspeakable crimes against Palestinians, again with nearly complete impunity.

Israelis are free to carry deadly weapons with them wherever they go; non-Israelis are not.

Somehow, this does not sound to this writer to be the actions of people who want peace as badly as the Prime Murderer would have us all believe.

  • Netanyahu said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to Palestinian terrorism. The fact that the secretary said anything about so-called ‘terrorism’ committed by the Palestinians was just an appeasement to Israel. Mr. Kerry should know that, under international law, an occupied people have the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. He should also know that the so-called ‘rockets’ that Hamas occasionally fires into Gaza are, in the words of scholar Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken critic of Israel, nothing more than enhanced fireworks. These ‘rockets’ hardly compare to the deadly weapons the U.S. provides Israel to kill Palestinian men, women and children. And let’s be reminded that, in the summer of 2014, Israel fired more and far more deadly rockets into the Gaza Strip than Hamas had fired into Israel in the previous 14 years.

Mr. Netanyahu seems to have a very unusual definition of terrorism. One wonders if he would consider it terrorism if Palestinian soldiers routinely broke into the homes of Israelis in the middle of the night, ransacked the homes and arrested all the males in them over the age of 10. This writer feels that he would. Yet Israeli soldiers commit these crimes on a daily basis against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Would the Israeli Prime Murderer think it an act of terrorism, if Palestinians drove bulldozers up to the home of an Israeli family, and advised them to leave immediately, because their house was going to be demolished? Israel does this to Palestinians hundreds of times a year.

If Palestinians went to Israeli reservoirs, on which Israeli families relied for drinking water, and contaminated them with dead chickens and human feces, would the Prime Murderer feel that was an act of terrorism? Would he feel so if Palestinians simply destroyed those reservoirs? Israelis do this to Palestinians on a regular basis.

If Palestinians, in specially-equipped trucks, drove to a neighborhood elementary school, and sprayed sewage all over the school, adjacent residential buildings, and any people who couldn’t run out of the way quickly enough, would he object to that as terrorism? Palestinians suffer under this treatment from Israelis.

So, perhaps, in the twisted little mind of Mr. Netanyahu, it is only Israelis who can be victimized; after all, he will readily tell you, remember the Holocaust! Never again! Oh, that means ‘never again’ to Israelis; such crimes against others are just fine.

  • Kerry, according to the Prime Murderer, attacked “the only democracy in the Middle East”. One key element of democracy is this: “Guarantee of basic Human Rights to every individual person vis-à-vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-à-vis any social groups (especially religious institutions) and vis-à-vis other persons.” We have already mentioned roads that only Israelis can drive on. Also, non-Israelis in the judicial system have a separate set of rules. For people living under occupation, this includes arrest without charge; indefinite detention; no access to lawyers or family; lack of medical treatment, among others. Israelis, of course, cannot be arrested without charge, or held indefinitely. They have immediate and unfettered access to lawyers and family, and any medical needs they may have are fulfilled.

Another key element is freedom of speech and press. Israel glories in this freedom, as long as no one says anything critical of the state.

Democracy, indeed!

We have, perhaps, saved the best for last. Mr. Netanyahu said that Mr, Kerry:

  • “Obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. The Prime Murderer sounds like the bratty child in the school yard who, when asked why he struck another child, says “because he hit me back”. Palestine, with no army, navy or air force is occupied and oppressed by one of the most powerful nations in the world, back by the most powerful. Mr. Netanyahu says that Palestine refuses to recognize the Jewish state of Israel (how that concept squares with the idea of democracy has never been adequately explained to this writer), and that is key to the conflict. Yet Israel is slowly, although with increasing speed, annexing all of Palestine, with the ultimate goal of annihilating it, wiping it from existence, and replacing it with Israel.

With the election of the clown-like Mr. Trump as president of the U.S., there will no longer be any pretense that the U.S. is a neutral peace broker in the Middle East. Mr. Trump has said that Israel can build all the settlements it wants, and his political appointees are all in favor of destroying Palestine, as demanded by the wealthy and generous Israeli lobbies, AIPAC (Apartheid Israeli Political Affairs Committee) chief among them. Yet the recent vote in the U.N. Security Council shows international support for Palestine. Perhaps, just perhaps, with Mr. Trump as president, the rest of the world will recognize that it must act for the Palestinian people. Mr. Trump’s election, although an overall disaster for the world, may have a silver lining, if it motivates the global community to act for justice in Palestine.

Originally published on Counterpunch on January 6, 2017

Leave a Comment

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

Palestine, the World, and Resolution 2334

Well, the sturm und drang caused by the passage of United Nations Resolution 2334, condemning Israeli settlements, is like the shot heard ‘round the world. From the apartheid nation of Israel, to the bought-and-paid-for-by-Israeli-lobbies halls of Congress, the cries of ‘foul’ are being heard loudly.  It is, indeed, as Macbeth might have said, much ‘sound and fury’, but it would be a mistake to say it signifies nothing.  However, what is signifies is not exactly what those shouting the loudest intended.

Let us look first at some of the provisions of the resolution. It demands, without any way of mandating adherence, that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”. Further, it states that the establishment of the settlements have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

This is nothing new; all settlement activity outside of the U.N. – decreed 1947 borders have always been considered illegal by the international community. The United States has always vetoed similar resolutions. In 2011, then Ambassador Susan Rice, when vetoing one such resolution, said that ‘…we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace. “ She further stated that the U.S. felt that the U.N. was not the place to resolve these differences, but that that should be accomplished through negotiations.

Such negotiations have been ongoing, off and on, for decades, and all that has been accomplished is the further theft of Palestinian land, mass arrests of Palestinian men, women and children, and the deaths of thousands of Palestinians. Once again, allow this writer to state 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. Palestine wants a nation of its own, with secure borders. But it has nothing that Israel cannot take from it with complete impunity.

So, the U.N. Security Council, with 14 members voting in favor and the U.S. abstaining, passed this resolution. Israeli Prime Murder Benjamin Netanyahu has reduced ties with most of the nations among those 14 with which Israel has diplomatic relations.  He has harshly criticized the U.S., although this writer has missed any news about refusing a dime of the $4 billion the U.S. gives Israel each year. Mr. Netanyahu looks forward to dealing with an ego as big as his own, when Donald Trump, of all people, becomes president of the United States in a few weeks. We’ll all look forward to seeing how that goes.

Senator Lindsay Graham (R- SC), has demanded the defunding of the United Nations, as a result of this vote. He let loose with these pearls of wisdom: “The Obama-Kerry foreign policy has gone from naïve and foolish to flat-out reckless. With friends like these, Israel doesn’t need any enemies. I anticipate this vote will create a backlash in Congress against the United Nations. The organization is increasingly viewed as anti-Semitic and seems to have lost all sense of proportionality.”

So, in the good senator’s view, endorsing international law and human rights is ‘naïve and foolish and flat-out reckless’. One wonders if his view of the situation might be just a tad distorted by the $516,715 that pro-Israeli lobbies have donated to his campaigns, $101,850 of it this year alone.

But he is not alone in his condemnation. Texas Republican Ted Cruz said this: “These acts are shameful. They are designed to secure a legacy, and indeed they have: history will record and the world will fully understand Obama and Kerry as relentless enemies of Israel.” One really has to wonder why the president would pledge $40 billion dollars to his ‘enemy’ over a ten-year period.

But Mr. Cruz, too, has been the beneficiary of Israel lobby largesse. In 2016, this amounted to a whopping $309,281.  Is it any wonder he is in an uproar about criticism of this golden goose?

It’s not just Republicans who are in such dismay. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer ‘tweeted’ this, following the vote: “Extremely frustrating, disappointing & confounding that the Administration has failed to veto the UN resolution.” Mr. Schumer’s 2016 take from Israeli lobbies was $386,901.  His career total is $1,179,800. So it is not surprising that he is ‘frustrated, disappointed and confounded’.

Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton was equally disquieted. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, he described Palestine as an “…imaginary state with zero economic viability.” He seems not to recognize that the reason Palestine has ‘zero economic viability’ is partly the result of the Israeli occupation that this resolution condemned. The other part of Palestine’s economic problems is the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

He also said that passage of Resolution 2334 is “… a hunting license to ostracize Israel from the international economic system, exposing it and its citizens to incalculable personal and financial risk”. Well, when the United Nations condemns the actions of any nation, it is certainly a reasonable step for other nations to ostracize that nation from the international economic system. And does he not consider the ‘incalculable personal and financial risks’ to which Palestinians are exposed on a daily basis, and have been for decades?

Mr. Netanyahu and his bestie, Mr. Trump, proclaim that a new era in Israel-US relations will begin on January 21. Yet ‘undoing’ a U.N. resolution is next to impossible, and based on the fact that 14 members of the Security Council voted in favor of Resolution 2334, there does not seem to be much appetite to even try.

The Israeli Prime Murderer is all in an uproar, accusing the U.S. of colluding with Palestine to pass the resolution. Oh, that the U.S. would collude with Palestine to accomplish anything positive for that beleaguered nation! Yet he himself pressured Egypt, which was originally scheduled to introduce the legislation, successfully preventing it from doing so. Apparently, collusion is fine if Israel does it.

So what does it all signify? Nations around the world can now take steps against Israel. There can be national economic boycotts, and the various laws passed in the U.S. and some European countries banning the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement, now have no legal leg to stand on, if they ever did. Talk of the illegality of settlements can be included in any negotiations on any topic that other nations have with Israel. Agreements about weapons sales, academic exchanges, business partnerships, etc., all can tie in restrictions, due to Israeli’s illegal settlement activities.

So let the U.S. Congress defund the United Nations. Ignore Mr. Netanyahu’s tantrums against nations that endorse human rights and international law. This resolution is, of course, only a step in the long march towards the freedom of the Palestinian people, but it is a significant and necessary one. Other nations must now act; history is on the side of justice, and justice will prevail.

Originally published on Counterpunch on December 30, 2016

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel

The Press and Palestine

That most illustrious of all publications, the New York Post, sounded a dire warning this week, announcing that Israel can no longer count on the unqualified support of the Democratic Party. In true, Zionist fashion, the rag said that the recent election “… could be the last US presidential election that Israelis don’t have to watch with existential dread”.

Well, we all know that just about everything is an existential threat to apartheid Israel, from the Iran nuclear deal, that regulates that nation’s nuclear advancement, to criticism by the world soccer organization.  And that is just one of the gems available in the article. As this writer is wont to do, he will look at a few more, in some detail.

  • Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, potentially the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is, apparently, not admired by The Post. The article says this: “Ellison ‘has organized letters urging pressure on Israel, and was an advocate of drawing lessons from the UN Goldstone Report following the 2009 Gaza War’.”

Does this seem bizarre? Should not lessons be learned from a report issued by the United Nations? The Post mentions, of course, that Richard Goldstone eventually backtracked on some aspects of the report, but didn’t mention the political pressure he was under to do so.

  • “On a trip to Israel last summer, Ellison posted a photo of a sign in Hebron declaring Israel to be an apartheid state and land thief.”

Well, let’s see: ‘Israeli only’ roads, many of them that non-Israelis can’t even cross, let alone drive on; separate laws for Israelis and non-Israelis, with punishment for similar crimes being lenient for Israelis, and extremely harsh for everyone else; military protection of Israelis while in the act of committing crimes against non-Israelis; fostering of hatred, from elementary school on up, of anyone not Israeli. Sounds like apartheid to this writer.

And what about land theft? Well, forcing people to vacate houses they own, with no recompense or possible redress, taking the land and building new residences there that only Israelis can occupy, sounds like both land theft and apartheid. So what point, one asks, was The Post trying to make?

  • Mr. Ellison apparently adds insult to injury. The article states:  “He has also called for Israel to end the blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip — despite the fact that Gaza-based terrorists have launched over 11,000 rocket attacks on Israeli civilians since Israel withdrew from the strip in 2005”.

But the article doesn’t mention the fact that during 52 days in the summer of 2014, Israel fired more rockets into the Gaza Strip that had been fired into Israel in the previous 14 years. Nor does it comment on the strength of the Palestinian ‘rockets’. Dr. Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an ardent supporter of Palestinian rights, calls those ‘rockets’, “enhanced fireworks”. Israel, on the other hand, has the most powerful, deadly weaponry on the planet today, provided by the United States.

  • “Israel discovered that Hamas had built a vast system of underground tunnels from Gaza to Israel in preparation for mass terror attacks.”

With the brutal blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel, such dangerous items as crayons and pasta have been prevented from entering Gaza. The tunnels have been a means of bringing supplies into the area.

It must also be remembered that an oppressed people, according to the United Nations, has both the right and the responsibility to resist the oppressor. Palestine has no army, no navy and no air force. Israel has the fourth most powerful military machine in the world, back by the most powerful. If one wants to discuss ‘mass terror attacks’, one might consider the 2014 Israeli bombing of schools, hospitals, UN refugee centers, houses of worship and press vehicles and buildings, that killed over 2,000 Palestinians, including over 500 children, as young a infancy.

  • The article also states the following, which seems to cause great dismay to The Post’s editors: “According to the Pew Research Center, Democrats sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians by a 43-29 margin — but that’s far closer than just a few years ago. And among liberal Democrats, it flips: Liberals prefer the Palestinians by a 40-33 margin’. And further: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders “…had massive support among young liberals, who are increasingly hostile to Israel”.

The fish wrapper bemoans this trend, but somehow neglects to explore why it might be. Could some of those issues mentioned above – harsh discrimination in Israel against all non-Israelis, apartheid laws, violence against defenseless people, etc.  – perhaps have something to do with this growing hostility to Israel?

The new Republican administration is almost gleeful in its disdain for the human rights struggles of the Palestinian people, and the anticipated political appointees are all Israeli cheerleaders. Hopefully, Mr. Ellison and other progressives will be able to at least prevent the complete annexation of the West Bank by Israel, and stall another aerial bombardment. In two years, it is likely that the Democrats will regain control of Congress, and while one can hardly expect them to be champions of human rights (they are only champions of their own bottom lines), at least things may revert to the conditions currently existing under President Barack Obama. And, as more progressives gain office, which will hopefully occur now that the Clinton dynasty has finally been aborted, there may be a glimmer of hope for Palestine once more. That is, of course, assuming that the damage to that country can be minimized for the next two years. That, sadly, is not a sure thing by any means.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Apartheid, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Media, Palestine

‘Newspeak’, the U.S. and Palestine

In George Orwell’s prophetic novel, 1984, we are introduced to ‘Newspeak’, which can be described as speech or writing that uses words in such a way as to change their meaning, with the intent of persuading people to think a certain way. Often, the goal is to make it appear that black is white; that war is peace, or that corruption is honesty.

Mr. Orwell himself spoke of political speech, perhaps a subset of Newspeak, saying that, in our time, political speech and writing are largely used in the defense of the indefensible.

Let’s see how ‘Newspeak’ has been utilized in describing the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Rarely a day goes by that some Israeli politician isn’t screaming about an existential threat to that rogue nation. The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, which includes churches, labor unions and universities voting to divest from Israeli holdings; scholars refusing to take part in academic projects with Israel, and entertainers refusing to perform there, along with the ‘rank and file’ boycotting Israeli products, is decried as an ‘existential threat’. Criticism by any nation of illegal settlements is seen as an ‘existential threat’. Palestinian resistance, that of a poorly armed, starved, occupied and blockaded population, is seen as an existential threat. The list is really endless.

The United States government, of course, owned by the Israeli lobby AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee), buys right into this, with billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money going to Israel, and laws being passed in various states banning the boycotting of Israel. How any elected official thinks such a law will ever stand up to a court challenge, and how they think such a law can be enforced, is beyond the understanding of this writer. But they all agree that these and other criticisms of Israel threaten the very existence of that country.

Now, it must be remembered that Palestine has no army, navy or air force. Its imports are severely restricted, and its exports, thanks to the occupation and blockade, are almost non-existent. Israel continually ‘confiscates’ (read: steals) Palestinian land to build huge new housing developments, all in violation of international law. Palestine faces a very real existential threat, but is seen as threatening Israel. This is certainly Newspeak.

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator, summed up this example of Newspeak clearly. “We are the only people on earth asked to guarantee the security of our occupier, while Israel is the only country that calls for defense from its victims”.

Newspeak does not only inhabit the halls of Congress, where that august body constantly sends billions of dollars to Israel, despite its violations of international law, and in violation of U.S. law, which predicates foreign aid on adherence to basic human rights, standards which Israel doesn’t even come close to meeting. It isn’t restricted to State Houses, where governors sign into law restrictive measures in clear violation of the Constitution. No, it even lives in the White House. When Israel was bombing the Gaza Strip in 2014, President Barack Obama said that “if someone attacked my daughters in their home, I would retaliate, too”. Newspeak at its best! He simply ignored the reality that Israeli terrorists are constantly attacking Palestinians in their homes in the West Bank; the night raids, when males as young as ten years old are dragged out of their beds and thrown into police vehicles, as their anguished mothers attempt unsuccessfully to protect them, somehow don’t count as ‘attacking children in their homes’. The bombing of the illegally blockaded Gaza Strip, where, when Mr. Obama issued that statement, nearly 300 children had been killed in their homes, somehow doesn’t count. All that counts is the fabrications that are created to please apartheid Israel.

Israel’s general excuse for bombing Gaza is ‘rocket’ fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Dr. Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and a strong proponent of Palestinian rights, calls these rockets, ‘enhanced fireworks’. The bombs from Israel, provided by the United States and including the most sophisticated, deadly weaponry on the planet, cannot be seen as ‘enhanced fireworks’. But in the Newspeak of Israel and the U.S., those ‘rockets’ from Gaza justify the carpet-bombing of homes, hospitals, mosques, press offices, and United Nations refugee centers.

It is also worth noting that in the summer of 2014, the number of bombs that Israel dropped on Gaza exceeded the number of so-called rockets that Gaza had fired into Israel in the previous fourteen years. Yet in the Newspeak of Israel and the U.S., and, of course, the corporate media, those ineffectual ‘rockets’ justified the killing of over 2000 Palestinians, nearly a quarter of whom were children, some as young as one month old.

Israel, we are told, is in great danger from Palestinian rockets. Yet the U.S. has provided Israel with the ‘Iron Dome’, which intercepts most of the rockets before they ever reach the ground. Palestine, of course, is defenseless against Israeli bombs. More Newspeak.

In many countries, an assailant with a knife is disarmed in a variety of ways. In the U.S. and Israel, being armed isn’t necessary to be threatening. In both nations, unarmed people are routinely killed by what is euphemistically called ‘law enforcement (more Newspeak), with the perpetrators being immune from prosecution. In the U.S., unarmed black men are fair game for any police office with an itchy trigger finger, and in Israel, any Palestinian, male or female, from children to the elderly, is fair game for IDF (Israeli Defense Forces; Israel’s state terrorists), if they are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. And minutes earlier, that might not have been the wrong place; it’s all up to the whim of the Israeli terrorists controlling the area.

Israel is now arresting and prosecuting anyone in Israel or Palestine who posts anything on social media critical of Israel. Big Brother is certainly alive and well in Israel. And it wasn’t so long ago that whistleblowers disclosed how the U.S. government was spying on millions of its own citizens.

In this election year, the U.S. is faced with two candidates who are fluent in Newspeak. Democrat Hillary Clinton declares her dedication to the 99%, when all her actions favor the super-rich. Republican Donald Trump proclaims the threat of Islam, a peaceful religion, the radical element of which is no more representative of it than the so-called Religious Right in the U.S. is of Christianity. And one of them will be the next president of the most powerful imperial nation in recent history.

Like Oceania in 1984, constantly fighting either Eastasia or Eurasia, the U.S. will wage deadly war in the Middle East and wherever else it invents an enemy. And like the people in Mr. Orwell’s Oceania, U.S. citizens will cheer with each death of an innocent victim, and take great pride in the might of their nation. They will boast of U.S. military strength; will ‘stand with Israel’, despite its unspeakable crimes against humanity, and will, in their own ways, proclaim their love for Big Brother.

In 2016, Mr. Orwell’s 1984 has arrived.

 

Originally published in Counterpunch.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel

Israel Lines Its Pockets With Palestinian Aid — And The US Helps Israel Keep It That Way

From severely limited water supplies to a blockade on even the most basic supplies, Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine has destroyed even the most basic infrastructure Palestinians need to survive, forcing residents of Gaza and the West Bank to struggle through a humanitarian disaster.

This was intensified in 2014 during Israel’s most recent genocidal attack on the Gaza Strip, which left over 2,000 Palestinians dead and over 100,000 homeless. During that onslaught, Operation Protective Edge, Israel deliberately targeted Gaza’s infrastructure, destroying factories and plants that posed no threat to the occupation.

In September 2015, The United Nations’ Roberto Valent estimated that, at the current rate, it will take 30 years to rebuild Gaza, not to mention the estimated $7.8 billion required to fund those efforts.

Now, just two years later, the unemployment rate in Palestine has neared an astronomical 27 percent, and Oxfam International operates a food voucher program that assists 71,000 people in Gaza alone.

And while the chief reason for Palestinian suffering is the brutal, illegal occupation of Israel there are a number of other compounding factors found in the deeply corrupt Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.

In March, Mondoweiss reported that Mr. Abbas refused an opportunity to construct new electricity lines that would have supported the power sector in Gaza, where residents have electricity for just a few hours each day.

Ongoing “security cooperation” between Israel and the PA is another example of Mr. Abbas’ complicity in Palestinian suffering. There is also strong evidence that the PA shares information with Israel to prevent armed resistance to the occupation.

This complicity and corruption in Mr. Abbas’ PA plays into another major roadblock on Palestine’s path to recovery: International funds meant for reconstruction efforts in Gaza and other forms of humanitarian aid are routinely diluted by Israel.

 

Israel: A sieve for aid money intended for Palestine

Last month, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which regularly polls Palestinians on a range of issues, including their perception of corruption within the PA, reported that 80 percent perceive corruption and 52 percent view the PA as a burden.

An April report by Haaretz highlighted Palestinians’ long-standing grievances with the puppet government headed by Mr. Abbas and controlled by Israel and the United States:

“Outright theft of public funds, receiving of bribes and other favors in return for services, hugely inflated salaries and favors paid to senior NGO officials and high-level political interference in the replacement of senior civil servants.”

Monies donated to various NGOs operating in Palestine do not always reach their ultimate destination. This generally occurs for one of two reasons: corruption within the Palestinian government or theft by the Israeli government.

Over a five-year period, Rafiq al-Natsheh, chairman of the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission, recovered $70 million in state money which officials used to strike profitable deals abroad. While Al-Natsheh said tens of millions are still missing, he also refuted allegations that the missing monies total into the hundreds of millions. So the issue of corruption within Palestine, under the watchful eyes of the spineless Mr. Abbas, is significant, but it still isn’t the biggest component of the problem.

The main challenge to funding the needs of the Palestinians is caused by Israel. That apartheid nation demands that all aid to Palestine go through Israel. Therefore, such things as taxes, transportation costs and many other “fees” reduce the amount of aid that actually reaches Palestine, while enriching the occupiers.

And this causes international donations to decrease. Reuters reported in February:

“Over the past five years, direct support to the Palestinian budget from the EU and others has fallen from around $1.3 billion a year to less than $700 million, with the decline attributed in large part to frustration over money not being spent where it was intended or not being fully accounted for.”

It is interesting that while money “not being spent where it was intended or not being fully accounted for” is cause for the European Union and other entities to draw back their support, the model is not the same for the U.S. In the final report of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, which reviewed monies ostensibly spent for the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan following the United States’ devastation of those countries, it is estimated that between $31 billion and $60 billion had been lost to fraud and waste. However, U.S. money still flows to Iraq.

Indeed, the occupation of Palestine is a lucrative arrangement for Israel. Mondoweiss reported in March that Israel periodically tests new weaponry, usually provided by the U.S., on Palestinians. Then, after the testing is done, leaving thousands of innocent Palestinians dead or maimed, the weapons are ready to be sold on the international market.

 

Aid subversion and unfulfilled pledges

Since all aid to Palestine must go through Israel, as the Mondoweiss report highlighted, this provides endless opportunities for “aid subversion” or “aid diversion.” That is why studies indicate that 72 percent of that money remains in Israel, never benefitting Palestinians.

Another related issue is the lack of pledge fulfillment. After the 2014 Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the “Cairo Conference on Palestine – Reconstructing Gaza” was held on Oct. 14, 2014. Several nations pledged $5 billion — including $3.5 billion intended specifically for Gaza — to support the reconstruction of the more than 200,000 homes and businesses destroyed or damaged by Israel. Yet, as of March this year, less than half of the pledged monies had been sent.

Donations were to be made available between 2014 and 2017, but even allowing for the donations being sent periodically, rather than all at once, they are still behind. The following table shows the pledges, monies sent and shortfall from four Arab nations as of April, the most recent date for which this information is available:

aid graph

If one looks at the $232 million that has already been sent, far short of the nearly $2 billion pledged by these four nations, and considers that Israel skims at least 70 percent off that total, the amount actually received by Palestine is less than $70 million.

One of the international arguments against universal recognition of Palestine is that it cannot be self-sustaining. Yet as Al-Jazeera reported in April:

“The Palestinian Authority is being deprived of $285m in revenues annually, the World Bank reported, attributing these losses to arrangements outlined by the Paris Protocol, the Oslo Accord-era agreement that determined the economic relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The report further states that Israel is withholding $669 million in Palestinian revenue. Certainly, the influx of this money would greatly stimulate the Palestinian economy.

 

The 8th most powerful country in the world gets more US aid than Palestine

Israel is ranked as the eighth most powerful country in the world. Yet it still receives billions of dollars in foreign aid from the U.S. each year.

For fiscal year 2017, the U.S. has pledged $364 million to Palestine. Compare that to the proposal for foreign aid to Israel for 2017, which currently stands at $3.1 billion but could rise to as much as $4 billion. So the U.S. will give Palestine less than 10 percent of what it gives to the eighth most powerful country in the world.

And while the amount given to Israel is ever-increasing, the same is not true for Palestine. In October 2015, the U.S. reduced the $370 million promised to Palestine (less than what is pledged for 2017) to $290 million in order to send a “message” to that country in response to stabbing attacks in Jerusalem. Yet Israel kills hundreds of innocent Palestinians annually, and it continues to enjoy aid boosts from Washington.

Does it not appear that perhaps the international deck is stacked against Palestine? The U.S. sends it a fraction of what it sends to Israel, and Israel steals most of it anyway.

There can be no question that Mr. Abbas is far more beneficial to the U.S. and Israel than he is to Palestine, nor can it be questioned that the U.S. enables Israel’s apartheid regime. With billions required to rebuild Gaza, pledged donations only trickling in, Mr. Abbas cooperating with Israel, and the occupation continuing, the situation for Palestinians is dire.

Only when the rest of the world chooses to oppose the gross injustices that those two nations perpetrate on Palestine, will the Palestinians find peace and justice.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Palestine will not be a free and independent during his time in office, yet worldwide protest and condemnation appear to make it harder and harder for him to keep that promise.

 Originally published by MintPressNews.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights

The First Amendment, BDS and Third Party Candidates

It seems sometimes that, like Alice, we have all tumbled down a rabbit hole and entered a bizarre new universe. However, Mr. Carroll could never have invented anything as peculiar as what is seen in United States politics and governance.

For reasons that only politicians and the lobbies who own them can completely understand, Israel, that brutal, apartheid nation, comes first and foremost in what passes for the minds of elected officials. It is reported that New Jersey is the latest in a string of states that is passing anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) laws. This, of course, will require endless hours of effort by some unfortunate bureaucrat to compile lists of organizations that support the boycott of Israel. Was it so long ago that other bureaucrats compiled lists of Communist ‘sympathizers’? We all know how well that turned out.

But anyway, why should politicians who bask in the largess of Israeli lobbies care about the First Amendment? That old thing! Let’s take a look at what is says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The Supreme Court over the years has expanded this to include states; it isn’t just Congress that is so forbidden. In 1982, in the case of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) vs. Clairborne Hardware Co., the Court found that “the nonviolent elements of a boycott are entitled to the protection of the First Amendment”.

Now, what might the governing bodies of New Jersey, New York and nine other states that have passed anti-BDS legislation learn from this? The purpose of the BDS movement, as indicated on its webpage, is clear: in 2005, “Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognized in full compliance with international law”. It would appear that all of these actions fall into the ‘non-violent’ category that the Supreme Court says is protected by the First Amendment.

During the long, drawn out, bitter campaign for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations, which was only a forerunner to what promises to be an unparalleled circus of a campaign between Tweedle-Dum (Republican Donald Trump) and Tweedle-Dee (Democrat Hillary Clinton), most of the candidates from both parties made the obligatory visit to the AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) altar in Washington, D.C. in March of this year. There, they decried Palestinian resistance to the occupation, resistance that is sanctioned by the United Nations, and praised Israeli ‘restraint’, that only killed 500 innocent children in less than two months in the summer of 2014. They spoke of the strength of Israeli ‘democracy’, where there are separate laws for Jewish Israelis, and non-Jewish Israelis. They talked of Israel as the U.S.’s only ‘friend’ in the Middle East, a friendship that the U.S. purchases with more foreign aid than is given to all other countries combined. Such groveling by men and women who would ‘lead’ the United States is nothing less than repulsive to watch.

Fortunately, the U.S. voter isn’t limited to the two representatives of the Republicratic Party. Choices abound, although the corporate-owned media (fascism, anyone?) would have us all believe otherwise. The candidacy of Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) has been mentioned by this writer previously, but is worth noting again, as she is one of the third-party candidates who does not feel compelled to kiss the unholy ring of Israel.

A few phrases from the PSL webpage are telling:

* The “campaign stands in full solidarity with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign…”

* “The BDS movement demands that Israel: End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantles the Wall; recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.  It fights for an end to Israeli apartheid.”

We learn from this some important differences between Ms. La Riva and Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. First, unlike her rivals, Ms. La Riva respects human rights. Second, she recognizes and respects international law. She understands the role of boycotting in bringing about change. Unlike the Republican and Democratic candidates, she recognizes apartheid when she sees it. Finally, she supports worldwide efforts to bring justice to the Palestinians, after decades of oppression.

But Ms. La Riva doesn’t stop there; she fully exposes the elephant (or perhaps, the donkey) in the room:

“Both of the presumptive major capitalist party candidates, Trump and Clinton, have expressed full support for Israel, outrageously painting Israel as ‘victim’ and the Palestinians as ‘aggressor,’ in keeping with the Israeli narrative that is constantly regurgitated by the corporate media here.”

As 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.” Ms. La Riva seems to recognize that odd fact, and is willing to do something about it.

It is unlikely that a third-party candidate will be victorious in the 2016 presidential election farce, where the major competitors are highly disliked by large swaths of the electorate, which will seek in vain to find the lesser of two evils. But this situation, where the 99% must choose between two members of the 1%, can begin to die this year, if increasing numbers of people decide to pull a lever for a candidate other than those of either the GOP or Democratic Party. If voters consider such things as human rights, international law, and justice, they will be unable to vote for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. There are excellent alternatives, and Ms. La Riva is one of them.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Leave a Comment

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

A Perfect Couple: Sanders and Clinton

Much to the surprise of absolutely no one but his most ardent fans, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has sold his soul and endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Only time will tell what he received in return: a position in a Clinton Cabinet, or perhaps a prestigious assignment in the senate. One hopes he held out for more than a meaningless plank in the Democratic Party platform which, when combined with all the other meaningless planks, makes for a meaningless platform. More on that later. But this is all business as usual when the kingmakers are hard at work, plying their craft.

There was talk in the last several days about overtures the Green Party had made to Mr. Sanders, with the gross exaggeration that likely Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had offered to step aside to enable him to head the ticket. Dr. Stein herself issued a clarification, saying that while the party had reached out to the senator, there were a variety of issues that would need to have been discussed if there was any partnership to be established. She also said that, unlike the Democratic Party, the delegates to the Green Party convention would determine the nominee; it wasn’t hers to give away.

Mr. Sanders’ statement endorsing his former opponent is puzzling indeed. The constraints of time and space prevent a thorough analysis, but we will look at a few key points, and attempt to make sense of them.

“Together, we have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution continues.”

I think not. Certainly, many people jumped on the Sanders bandwagon, hoping for such changes as a higher minimum wage and an end to astronomical student debt. But, while these are certainly desirable, they do not a revolution make. A good place to start a revolution might be to end war and international militarism, but the good senator had no intention of doing any such thing.

“Together, we continue the fight to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the one percent….”

Senator Sanders would have us believe that Mrs. Clinton, a woman with an estimated fortune of $45 million, is going to fight for the 99%. This is a woman who never met a corporate lobby she didn’t love. Perhaps Mr. Sanders thinks that his devoted followers will buy whatever it is he chooses to sell, so he decided to bring out the snake oil.

“It is easy to forget where we were seven and a half years ago when President Obama came into office. As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

Curiouser and Curiouser! Does Mr. Sanders forget that the woman whose praises he is now singing earned nearly $700,000 for three, yes three, speeches to Goldman Sachs? Does he expect anyone to believe that she will oppose corporate advantages in order to fight for the common worker? Favors, in the amount of fees and campaign donations, have been granted, and will certainly be called in during a Hillary Clinton administration.

Mrs. Clinton “…knows that it is absurd that middle-class Americans are paying an effective tax rate higher than hedge fund millionaires, and that there are corporations in this country making billions in profit while they pay no federal income taxes in a given year because of loopholes their lobbyists created.”

Please see comment, above.

During this puzzling speech, Mr. Sanders referred to the Democratic Platform, and said this: “… we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.” ‘Progressive’ is such an appealing term to pass around and make liberals feel good. And while this writer risks boring the reader with endless bullet points, he reviewed a draft of the platform, and would like to point out just two of the ‘progressive’ aspects of it:

“Democrats will also address the detrimental role Iran plays in the region and will robustly enforce and, if necessary, strengthen non-nuclear sanctions. Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. It violates the human rights of its population, denies the Holocaust, vows to eliminate Israel, and has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East.”

Iran is not the ‘leading state sponsor of terrorism; by any and all accounts, that dubious distinction belongs to the United States, which ‘has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East’.

“We will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

“Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement. Palestinians should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and dignity.”

Now, this paragraph deserves our close attention, so the writer will dissect it, like a scientist in a lab.

“We will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The U.S. has been unsuccessful in this endeavor or generations, and will continue to be as long as the government is bought and paid for by Israeli lobbies. And it is likely that the U.S. has no interest in ending this ‘conflict’.

“…negotiated directly by the parties…”

As this writer has pointed out previously,  negotiations can only take place between two parties, each of which has something the other wants, and that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes what it wants from Palestine with complete impunity. There can be no negotiations.

Additionally, does the Democratic Party have no respect for international law? Israel is in violation of that law by its illegal occupation of the West Bank, and blockade of Gaza. Why would anyone suggest negotiations?

Such negotiations are supposed to “…guarantee Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provide the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.” Shouldn’t any plan also guarantee Palestine’s future as a ‘secure and democratic state with recognized borders’?

“Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement. Palestinians should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and dignity”

Do not Palestinians deserve ‘security, recognition and a normal life free from terror and incitement’?

So much for Mr. Sanders’ ‘progressive’ platform.

Difficult as it is to say anything positive about the Republican Party, at least its voters thought ‘outside of the box’ this year. There was no decent candidate running, so rather than choosing some tired career politician, they selected a billionaire racist, homophobic, Islamophopic misogynist. The Democrats played by their rigged rulebook, and are about to nominate the quintessential Washington insider.

Is there a lesser evil between these two? Hardly! Each, in his or her own way, will cause untold suffering at home and abroad; do nothing to assist those who are struggling; enrich their friends and associates, and leave a trail of blood and carnage in their wake.

On July 12, this writer had the opportunity of interviewing Gloria La Riva, the presidential nominee of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. He strongly encourages the reader to review her policy recommendations, which, unlike the Democratic Party platform, are filled with practical, common sense solutions to the complex problems facing the country and the world.

Never has the time been better than now to vote third party.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

Leave a Comment

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

In Just Seven Years, It Became Ok For American Academics To Openly Criticize Israel

KITCHENER, Ontario — (Analysis) When Prof. Steven Salaita was denied a tenured position he’d been offered at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, due to his public criticism of Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, it made international headlines and kicked off a firestorm.

Thousands of academics around the world started a boycott against the university. Available positions for professorships at Urbana-Champagne went begging, when qualified candidates hesitated to apply, for open positions. And the prestigious American Association of University Professors censured the school — an unusual move, and one reserved for the most egregious of violations.

Before the dust settled, the school had spent over a million dollars in legal fees.

A brief summary of the entire situation may be helpful: Mr. Salaita was a tenured professor at Virginia Tech when he was offered a tenured position in the American Indian Studies program at UIUC. He and his wife quit their jobs and sold their home in preparation for their move to Illinois. Shortly thereafter, Israel began bombing the Gaza Strip and Mr. Salaita expressed his displeasure via social media. Under pressure from wealthy donors, the school’s chancellor, Phyllis Wise, advised Mr. Salaita that the school would not move forward with approving his appointment.

It must be recognized that the meeting to “approve” (read: rubber-stamp) this appointment was not scheduled until after the start of classes. Mr. Salaita, like countless professors before him, would start his teaching responsibilities before this final approval was made. But that didn’t stop Ms. Wise from saying that he really had no offer, a move that brought down the wrath of the academic community on previously-respected UIUC.

In the end, in order to save the money that endless litigation would have cost, the school agreed to pay Mr. Salaita a settlement of $875,000.

Just seven years earlier…

Things were not always so positive for someone denied tenure due to his or her positions on human rights, particularly where Israel and Palestine are concerned.

In 2007, author Norman Finkelstein, a professor at DePaul University in Chicago, was denied tenure. The son of Holocaust survivors, Mr. Finkelstein is an outspoken critic of Israel, and has spoken and written extensively about Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. Nine years ago, such criticism of Israel was inexcusable in the United States. 

Alan Dershowitz, a fellow professor and an avowed Zionist, whose own books extolling Israel Mr. Finkelstein had publicly criticized, lobbied extensively against granting tenure to Mr. Finkelstein. Ultimately, Mr. Dershowitz’s efforts proved successful.

At the same time tenure was denied to Mr. Finkelstein, Prof. Mehrene Larudee, a strong supporter of Finkelstein, was also denied tenure, despite the unanimous support of her department, the Personnel Committee and the dean.

There was some backlash. Students protested and staged a hunger strike in support of Mr. Finkelstein and Ms. Larudee. The Illinois Conference of the American Association of University Professors, an arm of the association that would censure the UIUC seven years later, wrote to the university’s president, saying: “It is entirely illegitimate for a university to deny tenure to a professor out of fear that his published research … might hurt a college’s reputation.” The letter continued, asserting that the association has explicitly rejected “collegiality” as an appropriate criterion for evaluating faculty members.

In the case of Salaita, the issue of “collegiality” was not raised; “civility” had taken its place.

 

What made the difference?

One might reasonably ask what made the difference. Why, in 2006, would criticism of Israel cost a professor his livelihood, with little more than a ripple of protest, but less than a decade later, the same basic situation made international headlines, cost a school over a million dollars, and sullied its reputation?

One cannot too readily dismiss the impact of social media. In 2006, Facebook and Twitter were still in their infancy. By 2014, when Israel was carpet-bombing the Gaza Strip, targeting homes, U.N. refugee centers, mosques, hospitals and press vehicles, there were well over 1 billion Facebook users, with 757 million of them using the site daily. Twitter, although dwarfed by Facebook, had approximately 288 million active users by the end of 2014.

These and other social media sites provide a potential worldwide audience to anyone with a camera and Internet connectivity. The old narrative of Israel as the victim of Palestinian aggression no longer holds water, as long as people on the ground are posting photos of the horrendous suffering caused by Israel. The “rocket fire” that Israel so fears — and that it claims it must kill thousands of people in order to prevent — is trifling compared to its response. Palestine, with no army, navy or air force to speak of, blockaded and occupied, is able to cobble together an occasional missile which Mr. Finkelstein has described as “enhanced fireworks.”

For example, in 2014, videos of Israelis sitting in comfortable lawn chairs, watching Gaza being bombed, were widely shared. Publicity about this was not favorable, and such behavior by Israelis further eroded the general support that Israel had enjoyed in the U.S.

It should not be surprising that such a sea change occurred in the academic environment between the time of Mr. Finkelstein’s persecution and that of Mr. Salaita. University campuses are alive with strong human rights activists, many of whom are involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The decision of so many academics to boycott UIUC, and of the AAUP to censure it, is merely reflective of the changing times and attitudes.

This is not going to end soon. The minor skirmishes, represented by campus votes on BDS, as well as the major battles, such as Mr. Salaita’s dismissal from UIUC, will only increase in number and intensity. Today, Jewish students who support Zionism will sometimes state that they feel “unsafe” on campus after a successful BDS vote. Yet from the comfort of their luxurious dorms, they don’t consider how “unsafe” the men, women and children of Palestine feel — and actually are — amid the brutal, ongoing Israeli occupation.

The Zionist narrative is strong. Jewish children grow up being taught of the Jewish homeland, but once out of the family confines, they often begin to see things differently. As Israeli government officials decry the BDS movement, they warn darkly that Jewish students who support Palestine and oppose Israel’s occupation of that country are the future leaders of the world. This, of course, does not bode well for Israel or Zionism.

The Salaita situation wasn’t, in and of itself, a watershed moment. It was simply the manifestation of the growing, worldwide recognition of apartheid in Israel. Much of the world has long seen Israel for what it is, and they’ve officially recognized the state of Palestine. The U.S., as was the case with apartheid South Africa a generation ago, is always late to support human rights if doing so could impact either its bottom line or its powerbase. And Israel lobbies are extremely generous to the U.S. lawmakers who toe the line.

While they bode well for the future of Palestine and its people, these new realizations do nothing to change the tragic facts on the ground today. But as the global ostracization of Israel grows, Palestinian freedom becomes inevitable. Those who believe in human rights, dignity and self-determination will continue to speak, write, vote, and otherwise act for those who can do little for themselves. Their efforts will not cease until Palestine is free.

Originally published by MintPressNews.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Palestine