Category Archives: BDS

Palestine and Israeli Recognition

Palestine’s weak, spineless, traitorous leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has secured a vote to rescind Palestinian recognition of Israel. It was only a year ago that he declared an end to ‘security cooperation’ (read: Palestinian complicity in Israel’s oppression of the West Bank), and then proceeded with business as usual. The decision on Israeli recognition will probably be the same.

Some members of the international community, which once in a great while notices the abject suffering of the Palestinians (not that it cares to do much about it), and recognizes that Israel is in violation of numerous international laws, provided some tepid reaction, ranging from ‘unhelpful’ (France) to ‘completely understandable’ (Russia).

There are a variety of questions this latest, non-binding ‘decision’ raises, and we will look at a few of them.

  • Why did Palestine ever recognize its brutal occupier without demanding the same concession from Israel? Doing so gives some legitimacy to the occupation, and of all the countries that shouldn’t in any way imply that, Palestine is at the top of the list. Of course, since the U.S. has for decades called the shots, supported Israel and oppressed Palestine, it’s likely that Palestine had little choice in the matter.
  • Why wouldn’t a country be able to withdraw its recognition of another country? Circumstances change, and while it may not be something that can be done easily or quickly, when one nation is in serious violation of international law, over a period of decades, has an apartheid system of government and refuses to be a part of any international monitoring of its nuclear capability, other nations would seem to have good reason to withdraw their official recognition.
  • Why is Mahmoud Abbas still in the picture? Palestine is years past the time for scheduled elections, which would surely put the aged, traitorous, incompetent Israeli puppet out to pasture. The U.S., of course, while it hypocritically proclaims its support for the self-determination of people everywhere, works to prevent such an election, since Hamas would, in all likelihood, win in a landslide. And if not Hamas, some other party that won’t toe the U.S.-Israel line. The victorious party would be one that, for the first time in years, has the needs and desires of the Palestinians at heart, rather than one that would kowtow to the demands of Palestine’s brutal occupier and its cruel enabler.

Preventing foreign elections, if their outcome cannot be pre-determined to be in the U.S.’s favor, is not something with which the U.S. government has no experience. Once very specific case in point will suffice to demonstrate this fact.

In 1954, as the French were attempting, quite unsuccessfully, to hang on to Vietnam as a colony, the Geneva Accords agreement was signed that divided Vietnam into a Communist north, and a non-Communist south. The Accords provided for elections to be held in 1956, which would have been a referendum on reunification. These elections were boycotted by the south, at the urging of the U.S. In the memoirs of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he wrote that if the elections had been held in 1956, “Ho Chi Minh (the Communist leader of the North), would have gotten 80 percent of the vote.” Allowing people to determine their own leadership is only permitted if the U.S. likes that leadership.

The U.S.’s stated support for the will of the people has always been a myth. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson said that “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.” Wilson’s Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, was deeply troubled by such statements. “In his private notes he wrote that it (the concept of self-determination) was loaded with dynamite, might breed disorder, discontent and rebellion. His neat, logical mind saw it leading the President into strange contradictions. ‘Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically committed?’”

Palestinians in the West Bank, unarmed and unprotected, know that when Palestinian law enforcement officers are not on the scene, they can expect IDF terrorists to invade their homes, business, mosques and schools, arresting and terrorizing anyone they encounter, and killing innocent, defenseless men, women and children. This is known, in the peculiar parlance of Israel and Abbas, as ‘security cooperation’. Palestinians can’t throw stones, but Israelis can shoot to kill.

This is the policy that, a year ago, Abbas said he would no longer respect. Much like U.S. politicians, his words are meaningless; Palestinians in the West Bank continue to be harassed, killed, demoralized, held without charge for months or years at a time, regardless of age, all with the willing assistance of their so-called leader. Any election in Palestine would bring an end to this ‘security cooperation’.

The moves that Abbas says he’ll make, but doesn’t, could be game-changers for the Palestinians. If Fatah’s law enforcement personnel spent their time opposing Israel, rather than working with it, the civil disobedience would quickly reach a boiling point that the international community would have to address. If he withdraws recognition of Israel, even the very threat of doing so may motivate other nations to agree to recognize Palestine, if it maintains recognition of the apartheid state.

But these are moves that would benefit the Palestinian people, and Abbas has proved repeatedly, over a period of several years, that that is the least of his concerns.

What comes next? With the U.S. tightening the screws on the coffin of Palestine, and Israel busy digging the grave, one looks in vain for significant help from the leaders of the international community. The greatest hope lies with the rank-and-file members of that community, the people who are ever expanding the boycott, divestment and sanctioning (BDS movement) of Israel. The U.S. and other countries futilely attempt to outlaw such actions (in the U.S. completely disregarding the Constitution), while Israel spends millions of dollars to counteract the economic and reputational consequences of BDS.

Unfortunately, in the near-term, this changes nothing for the Palestinians; in Gaza, they are still locked in the world’s largest open-air prison, and in the West Bank, they continue to suffer from the brutal actions of IDF terrorists and settler terrorists. People of conscience and humanity the world over must increase their efforts; the very existence of the nation of Palestine depends on it.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Israel Has Played Trump as a Complete Fool

On December 6, United States President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy, defied international law, and ignored the advice of virtually all its allies by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In 1995, bowing to pressure from pro-Israel lobby groups in the U.S., the U.S. Congress voted to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but included a provision that the president could waive that move every six months. Each president since then has done so; Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama all cited national security interests to waive the provision.

During Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he promised to implement this move, and now he can proclaim that he has kept a campaign promise. He did not say that the national security concerns his predecessors noted have been reduced in any way; he merely recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump has often proclaimed himself the ultimate deal-maker. Since Israel’s leaders have desperately craved this recognition of Jerusalem as its capital for decades, one might think that the ‘ultimate deal-maker’ could have obtained quite a bit in return for this move. Trump could have demanded an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip. He could have said there would be no recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until all the 500,000+ illegal settlers living on Palestinian land vacated it. Trump could have withheld recognition until all the checkpoints in the West Bank were disbanded. He could have demanded that Israel respect the pre-1967, internationally-recognized borders.

But the ‘ultimate deal maker’ did none of these things. David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator, had a different view. He said that, perhaps, “This might be the case where Trump applies a little honey now to show the Israelis he’s the most pro-Israel president ever, and then applies a little vinegar later.” With such beliefs, it is no wonder Miller failed as a negotiator. We will provide him with a brief history lesson.

In 1987, U.S Secretary of State George Shultz presented a three-point plan to resolve the underlying issues. The points were as follows:

1) The convening of an international conference;

2) A six-month negotiating period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and

3) A date of December, 1988 for the start of talks between Israel and Palestine for the final resolution of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir rejected this plan immediately, claiming, most bizarrely, that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel, and accelerating the delivery of seventy-five F-16 fighter jets. This, ostensibly, was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”[1]

So any thought that Trump was applying ‘honey’ now, and would apply ‘vinegar’ later, would be laughable, were it not so stupid.

This might be compared to Fatah requesting that Hamas surrender its weapons, with the expectation that Israel will ‘do the right thing’. Fatah has no weapons, and Israeli soldiers and settlers brutalize Palestinians with impunity. The entire history of Israel is one of brutality, savagery, injustice, murder and genocide. Its history with the United States is one of constantly taking, and giving nothing in return. That Israel has played Trump as a complete fool cannot be disputed.

What does this action mean in terms of international law? After the 1967 war, Israel annexed the entire city of Jerusalem, an action which the United Nations promptly declared null and void. All of the international community, with the exception of Israel, respected that U.N. declaration, until December 6 of this year, when Trump defied it. Trump has shown his contempt for international law before, most recently when he refused, despite all evidence supporting it, to certify that Iran was in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement sanctioned by the U.N.

Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Russia, the Vatican, Turkey, Germany, France, the U.K, China, Indonesia, Pakistan are just some of the nations whose leaders have condemned Trump’s latest international misstep. The European Union and the United Nations have done the same. With the obvious exception of Israel, no country has spoken in support of it.

Domestically, even Jewish groups oppose Trump’s decision. The head of the largest organization of Reformed Jews in the U.S., Rabbi Rick Jacobs, issued the following statement just prior to Trump’s announcement:  “While we share the President’s belief that the US Embassy should… be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process. We urge the President to do everything in his power to move forward with efforts to bring true peace to the region and take no unilateral steps.”

J-Street, another U.S., pro-Israel organization, also opposed the move. J-Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that “the effect of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem prior to a negotiated agreement will be to anger key Arab allies, foment regional instability and undermine nascent U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the larger conflict. The administration should also note that only a small minority of Jewish Americans – just 20 percent – support unilaterally moving the embassy.”

Apparently, none of these considerations were important to Trump. He had promised repeatedly during the campaign to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and he has been unable to deliver on some of his other promises, most notably depriving millions of people of health care, something supported, oddly, by his base. This latest move is intended to keep his base – evangelical Christians and wealthy donors – happy.

Although Trump only became president due to the peculiar U.S. Electoral College, and despite losing the popular vote by 3 million votes, he continues to believe he is qualified to be president, and is highly popular. He has stated repeatedly that he only lost the popular vote because of voter fraud. Yet there is no evidence to support this. He dismisses polls indicating that less than 40% of the populace approves of the job he is doing.  He has stated that he has accomplished more in less than a year in office than any other president, with the exception of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, Trump concedes, had a major depression to deal with. He makes this statement despite the fact that no major or significant legislation has been passed since he became president.

Many of Trump’s decisions have been met with domestic and international opposition: his travel ban on Muslims; withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement; decertifying of the JCPOA. But the opposition to his latest disastrous decision seems stronger and more unified than has previously been seen.

Finally, the U.S. can no longer proclaim that it is an honest broker between the Palestinians and Israelis; all such pretense has now been exposed for the lie that it is. It is long past time for another nation to assume that role, and genuinely work for a peaceful resolution, which can be easily accomplished by forcing Israel to adhere to international law. If that is an outcome of Trump’s decision, than some good will come of it.

[1] Suleiman, Michael W., ed. U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton. Page 31.

 

 

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

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

Daesh Defeat in Iraq and Syria Means Beginning of the End for Saudi Arabia and Israel

After years of suffering and violence, Iraq and Syria now seem to be rid of Daesh, sometimes referred to as ISIS or ISIL, thanks mainly to the efforts of Iran. On Tuesday, November 21, Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani sent Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei a congratulatory message on Daesh’s defeat in these countries, and thanked him for his leadership.

Although his own work with the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) was key to this victory, Major General Soleimani also praised the armed forces of Syria and Iraq, their governments and people, in their determination to expel foreign terrorists from their countries.

While this is a great victory for peace in these war-torn countries, it is not news that is welcomed in every corner of the world. When one looks at Daesh’s founding and financing, one sees why some nations are bitterly disappointed with Major General Soleimani’s news.

A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, Yasmina Haifi, ‘tweeted’ the following in August, 2014: “ISIS (Daesh) has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name.”

The following month, a research scholar at Harvard University, Garikai Chengu, said that Daesh “is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region.”

And herein we have the answer to many questions: the U.S. desperately wants to ‘counter Iran’s growing influence in the region’.

For decades, Israel was the Middle East’s strongest nation. Relying on $4 billion annually from the United States, it violated international law and human rights with complete impunity; it oppressed the Palestinians and stole their land, assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists, and practiced its particularly brutal version of apartheid within its ever-expanding, illegal borders.

Yet with hapless U.S. support, it slowly overstepped its bounds. Urging the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the U.S. Congress that ‘enormous benefits’ would accrue if Saddam Hussein were overthrown. In the power vacuum that that immoral and illegal invasion caused, Iran stepped in and built new ties with Iraq, which the U.S. and Israel had not anticipated.

When Israel decided that Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad must go, so that a weaker government that would bow to Israel’s demands could be installed, it didn’t anticipate Iranian and Russian support for Syria. The U.S. accommodated Israel’s demands by calling for ‘regime change’ in Syria, and supported, with arms and training, what it called ‘moderate rebels’, who were, in actuality, brutal foreign forces with no respect for human dignity, or human life. The suffering these U.S.-supported terrorists caused is beyond description.

With Iran’s influence demonstrated in Syria, to the point that U.S.-supported forces were defeated, Israel looked to block Iran’s growing geopolitical strength, by supporting the drive for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq. This, too, failed.

Perhaps the biggest tactical mistake that apartheid Israel and the oligarchy known as the United States made was underestimating the IRGC. U.S. forces quickly vanquished Iraq a decade ago; Syrian forces, on their own, would have been no match for the terrorists being supported by the U.S. Without this powerful assistance, it’s likely that Daesh would have overrun Syria, and it, like Libya and Iraq, would be in ruins, leaving Israel hegemony with little competition in the Middle East. That racist nation would then have been able to annex all of Palestine, completing the genocide it began in 1948, and which has continued to this day.

Alas for Israel, this was not meant to be! Iran, a nation that believes in self-determination and peace (Iran has not invaded another country since 1798), came to the assistance of its ally, Syria. Thus, Daesh, and Israel’s dreams for uncontested power in the Middle East, were destroyed.

Political affiliations can be unusual. It has now been reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia have been in contact to determine how best to confront Iran. Israel and Saudi Arabia have two of the most dismal human rights records in the entire Middle East; Israel is a brutal occupier, and Saudi Arabia is slaughtering Yemenis, including men, women and children, even as this is written. In Saudi Arabia, a decree was issued in September of this year, allowing women to drive; this new law is to be implemented by June 24, 2018. This very basic right is revolutionary in the oppressive nation of Saudi Arabia. In July, when this writer visited Iran, he saw as many women driving as men. Women cannot vote in Saudi Arabia; women in Iran have had that right since 1963.

It is not surprising that two nations with no interest in human rights would become allied to try to hold onto their fading power. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for the Middle East and the rest of the world, there are many factors weighing against them:

  • The U.S. government is in complete disarray. While the money flow to Israel continues unabated, the current government seems unable to formulate any cohesive policy on almost anything, foreign or domestic. This is a good thing, since its policies in the past have always supported brutal dictators against the human rights of the majority.
  • Israel’s isolation from the world community continues to increase. The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement continues to negatively impact Israel’s economy, academics, athletics and reputation. The alarm that the BDS movement has caused in Israel and the United States is evidence of its strength.
  • Russian power leans toward Iran, and away from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Russian officials are scheduled to meet with officials from Turkey and Iran on November 22, to discuss Syria. The U.S. has not been invited. Russia’s and Iran’s leaders apparently see no reason to involve the U.S.; the situation simply doesn’t concern the U.S. Relations between the U.S. and Russia today are at their worst point since the end of the Cold War.
  • The strength of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In numbers, strategic ability and experience, the IRGC has no peer in the Middle East. Israel has nuclear weapons, but it is unlikely that any of its allies, including the United States, would support their use in a war with Iran. And while Israeli society may be slowly imploding under the weight of its own injustices, even Israel’s leaders must recognize that the use of nuclear weapons would cause a murder-suicide of historic proportions: they may destroy their target nation, but there are too many other nations that are nuclear-armed that would retaliate in kind. A nuclear attack on any other nation by Israel would mean the end of Israel. That fact hardly escapes its leaders.
  • Saudi Arabia’s leaders will not formally ally with Israel unless there is a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, assuring an independent Palestinian state. Israel has no interest in accomplishing this, which will hamper its ability to work with Saudi Arabia. Even if Saudi Arabia’s leaders drop that requirement, which is not unlikely, the other issues mentioned herein are too big for Israel and Saudi Arabia to overcome.

With decreasing interference from the U.S., Syria and Iraq will rebuild, supported by Iran and Russia. U.S.-supported terrorists have been defeated there; people have begun to return to their homes, and in time, they will return to a degree of normalcy. Israel’s next move to re-establish hegemony on the international stage is anyone’s guess, but much of the world has grown tired of its barbarity and violation of international law. As its power and influence fade, and Iran’s grows, the Middle East can hope for a more peaceful future.

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Political Corruption and the U.S. Government

It is almost astounding what the United States populace is willing to tolerate in those that call the shots and make the rules by which they – the plebeian populace – must live. The rule-makers, of course, are exempt from such concerns, but recoil in horror if anyone not a member of the 1% violates them. They are even willing to condemn others of their own class, for violations they, themselves, are guilty of.

The list is nearly endless.

This writer, a charter member of the 99%, with no aspirations to leave it, and no possibility of doing so anyway, must respect and live by certain laws. For example, if he wants to build an addition onto his house, and the local zoning board nixes the plan, he cannot grease the palm of a zoning board member, in order to get a different ruling. Such behavior would result in his arrest, and any of a variety of penalties, not to mention life-long damage to his reputation.

This is not so for members of Congress. Israel wants to ignore international law? Just have Israeli lobbies, the Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) chief among them, donate large sums to Congress members’ campaigns. What does it get in return? Laws preventing the boycott of Israel (forget about the fact that such boycotts are protected by the Constitution; who needs that old thing when campaigns need to be financed?); protection from accountability in the United Nations for war crimes; $4 billion of taxpayer money annually, and a blind eye to the horrific human rights violations committed against the Palestinians.

The gun industry doesn’t want any regulations, whatsoever? Just get the National Rifle Association (NRA) to add their buckets of money to those of AIPAC. In return, anyone, even people who are legally blind, and people who are not allowed on U.S. airplanes because of suspected terrorist ties or activities, can purchase any gun or multiple guns that they choose. This includes semi-automatic weapons, designed to kill many people very quickly. Want to take your gun into a church? No problem!  Kill an unarmed person because you felt ‘threatened’? You have a right to protect yourself! Also, if someone is injured because of a faulty gun, he/she cannot sue the gun manufacturer. There are more laws in the U.S. regulating the manufacture of Teddy bears, than there are of guns.

For us little people, we must respect the personal boundaries of people to whom we may be physically attracted, but only marginally acquainted. Not so for the movers and shakers of the U.S; President Donald Trump has said that, if one is a celebrity, one can do anything they want to any unsuspecting woman who happens to pass by. Democratic Senator Al Franken took pictures of himself, grinning like the idiot that he is, fondling a sleeping woman. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, when in his thirties, trolled malls and high school football games, seeking teenage girls. Former Republican Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, a married, family-values arch-conservative, encouraged his mistress to have an abortion, while he championed the ‘pro-life’ movement. He did, however, resign as a result.

War and Peace.

If one were to ask the average person on the street if war is a good thing, one would probably be told that it is a ‘necessary evil’, and that the U.S. only wages war for the good of the U.S. and the world (no, that doesn’t make any sense, but U.S. politicians are ace snake-oil salespeople). One would probably find that such persons don’t believe U.S. government officials only seek power and wealth for themselves and their already-wealthy cronies, and don’t care about the soldiers they send to kill and die, or the innocent victims in faraway nations. These lemmings-like citizens will not listen to stories of neglect of injured veterans, or consider the possibility that the U.S. government is lying to them (see: weapons of mass destruction; Iraq), but will always show up for Veterans’ Day parades, equipped with a flag to wave and a handkerchief with which to wipe away the tears that begin to flow as the national anthem is played. They will say it is sad that children die, but, they will be quick to add, that is the fault of the victim nation, not the mighty U.S.

Political Prisoners.

Somehow, inexplicitly, the U.S. citizenry seems content that their vaunted ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ operates a torture chamber in Cuba, and utilizes the services of various other nations to house and torture other U.S. political prisoners, including U.S. citizens. The fact that many have been released and exonerated after years of unspeakable torture is not something that concerns them; the U.S., they will say, only tortures people for the good of society. So there.

And didn’t the aged Republican Senator from Arizona, John McCain, during his failed campaign for the presidency in 2008, say that there are some ‘really bad people’ in Guantanamo? As long as he decrees it to be so, what are things like due process? Who cares about the right to an attorney? They are ‘bad people’, as judged by McCain. That is all that is important to know.

It’s bad enough that the inmates are running the asylum, but why must the rest of the inmates tolerate it all? The answer, one supposes, is clear: they have lost sight, thanks to government officials, of who really has the power. They have successfully been made to believe that the power lies in Congress, the courts and the presidency, the three branches of government that activist Dahlia Wasfi correctly refers to as terrorist cells. Yet it is the populace who could, at the very least, vote en masse to rid the country of its current government officials. It is the populace who could take to the streets in numbers so large that there aren’t sufficient police to arrest them all, or cells to hold them. And if they did, it is possible that some of the police would join them. If the National Guard were called out, many Guard members might also join them. It is the populace who could refuse to pay taxes, swarm Congressional offices with their demands, refuse (males who are 18 years of age) to register for the draft, withdraw their money from banks that support terrorism, or hold a nationwide workers strike. This last action would, at least temporarily, cripple the economy, hurting the oligarchs exactly where it most matters to them.

In the 1960s, the phrase ‘Power to the People’ was often chanted at rallies protesting the U.S. war in Vietnam. But the people have always had the power; they simply choose not to use it.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Kakistoligargacy

United States President Donald Trump, following a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, said he believes him when Putin claims that the Russian government didn’t interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. This belief in Russian innocence is not shared by U.S. intelligence services. Mr. Putin, certainly, has his own agenda. U.S. intelligence agencies also have their own agendas. Which agenda is better for the U.S. and the world is open to discussion, but this writer would trust Putin with his life before he’d ever trust the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or any of its corrupt affiliates.

Congress members, especially those saintly Democrats, are horrified at even the suggestion of foreign meddling in the U.S. elections. This, they proclaim, wringing their hands in righteous indignation, threatens the very essence of democracy. The U.S., that beacon of all that is good and just, supports democracy around the world, and serves, they say, as an example for the rest of the world. Any violation of this revered, sacred democracy by outside influences causes the angels in heaven to weep.

Not so fast. There are many, MANY ways in which this all smacks of hypocrisy. It also shows the contempt with which elected officials hold the intelligence of the average U.S. citizen, especially those relatively few who actually vote. We will leave for another day any discussion of whether or not that contempt is justified.

How, the reader may ask, does this arrogant, superior attitude manifest hypocrisy? Read on, Reader!

  • In a democracy, the candidate with the most votes wins the election. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore garnered about 500,000 more votes than George Bush, but Bush became president. As a result, the U.S. became involved in two unjust, illegal and immoral wars (all wars, of course, are immoral), one of which continues to this day. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about 3 million, yet Donald Trump became president. Whether or not she was the lesser of two evils is difficult to say, but in a functioning democracy, she’d be president.
  • Support for democracy abroad means supporting the will of people in individual nations. It does not mean financing and training terrorists attempting to overthrow democratically-elected governments, and invading foreign nations. The U.S. has done exactly that in many countries, including, but not limited to 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, Tibet, Turkey and Vietnam. Today is supports terrorists in Syria, and seeks ‘regime change’ in Iran. One can easily imagine the outcry if Iran’s government leaders declared their support for regime change in the U.S.
  • The U.S. has ‘brokered’ meaningless negotiations between Palestine and Israel for decades, all the while supporting Israel financially, and protecting it in the United Nations from accountability for its crimes. A true democracy would either treat both parties the same, or, if favoring one party, would step back from any involvement in such negotiations.
  • In a democracy, all the people who satisfy the minimum requirements for voting, would be able to do so. But with a history of poll taxes, and current requirements in some states for picture identification, more eligible voters are being disenfranchised, a disproportionate number of Black voters being victimized in this way.

If the U.S. isn’t a democracy, what is it? Not a meritocracy; people in government don’t get promoted because of how well they have performed their current job (if that were the case, no one in government, ever, would be promoted).

Let’s consider the possibility that it’s an oligarchy. Elections require millions of campaign dollars, and the most successful candidates (see: Donald Trump) have personal fortunes of their own to spend. Over 50% of the members of Congress are millionaires. Members of Trumps’ cabinet have more money that one-third of the rest of the population of the United States. Can any of these people really represent their constituents? Do they even want to?

The other options is a kakistocracy, in which the worst and most incompetent people are running the country. ‘Nuff said.

Perhaps a new term is required, and this writer is happy to provide it: Kakistoligargacy. This new term indicates that the most wealthy and corrupt people are running the show.

In U.S. society today, when racism is fashionable, sexual harassment and assault are seen as privileges of the elite, the middle calls is seen only as a source of tax revenue, and the poor are to be ignored, perhaps the idea of a kakistoligargacy can be accepted. Imagine any of the U.S.’s leaders from either side of the aisle, standing in front of a crowd on the Fourth of July, extolling the glories of the greatest kakistoligargacy in the world! He or she will proclaim that U.S. kakistoligargacy is the model for aspiring kakistoligargacies around the planet. It is, he/she will proudly say, the envy of every other kakistoligargacy that exists.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t sound too far-fetched. The unmitigated nonsense that spews forth from the mouths of U.S. officials now is no more daft or imbecilic than the idea that they could brag about kakistoligargacy.

The new Republican tax reform program has been unveiled, and it certainly supports the idea that the U.S. is a kakistoligargacy. It includes lower taxes on the storing and staffing of private jets; large cuts in the taxes of the highest earners, and the estate tax, which applies only to estates exceeding $5.49 million, would be increased to only estates exceeding $10 million, and would be eliminated completely in six years.

The tax reform proposals benefit the rich: oligarchy in action. They hurt the middle class and ignore the poor: kakistocracy. A marriage made somewhere other than in heaven, and resulting in kakistoligargacy.

Trump faces little opposition among members of Congress, simply because there is little for them to oppose: his policies benefit them and their corrupt cronies. Yet a basic economic principle of capitalism is that there must be a strong middle-class for a society to succeed. Although this writer would be glad to see capitalism ride off into the sunset, never to be seen again, a more orderly transition, one that avoids the inevitable chaos the U.S. is heading for, is to be desired. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before the kakistoligarchs experience the impacts of their policies. Until then, they will continue to make money, come what may.

This is not a phenomenon of the current Republican president; he is merely its latest incarnation. Look at the last several GOP candidates for president: Mitt Romney (net worth between $190 and $250 million); John McCain (a mere $21 million, but his wife has a net worth of at least $100 million); George W. Bush ($11 – $29 million at the time of his election); Bob Dole ($7.7 million at the time of the 1996 election, in which he was defeated); George H.W. Bush ($23 million). These are supposed to be the ‘representative of the people’.

Democrat or Republican; liberal or conservative, it is all the same. The left wing and the right wing are both parts of the same kakistoligargical bird.

 

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Trump, Palestine and ‘The Deal’

On May 4, United States President Donald Trump said that the Palestine-Israel problem may not be as hard to resolve as people have thought. And, as the self-proclaimed ultimate deal-maker, he was confident he could resolve it.

Much as one hates to ever agree with the former reality-TV star who currently occupies the White House (and whose tenure may be considerably shorter than 4 years, if the chaos he engenders continues), but it is true: the resolution to the problem is clear. However, it isn’t whatever the delusional Mr. Trump may think it is. All it takes is adherence to the rule of international law.

In 1947, the newly-minted United Nations partitioned Palestine to establish Israel. This had been the plan of Zionists for at least fifty years, and the atrocities committed by Germany against the Jewish people motivated the U.N. to commit a major, ongoing atrocity against the Palestinians. The illegality and immorality of that action will not be addressed here. Suffice it to say that the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors were not keen on this plan, which displaced, in that and the next year, at least 750,000 Palestinians, and caused the deaths of at least 10,000. And the death toll has mounted drastically since then, along with the number of people brutally displaced from their homes and homeland.

So on this bloody ethnic cleansing, Israel was born.

Following the 1967 ‘war’, Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and has done so ever since, this year marking the half-century point. Although it ostensibly left the Gaza Strip in 2005, it has blockaded it since, and the U.N. considers it still occupied.

Despite its key role in the monster it created, the U.N. has issued more resolutions condemning Israeli activity than it has against any other nation.

Currently, nearly 500,000 Israelis live illegally in the West Bank. Israel routinely demolishes Palestinian homes to make room for new buildings that only Israelis can inhabit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in disdaining international law, has stated categorically that not one settler will ever be removed from the West Bank.

But the easy resolution Mr. Trump sees is not the one that actually exists. With his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move sure to bring more hostility toward the U.S. throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, international law does not seem to be anywhere on his radar. His request to Netanyahu to, perhaps, slow down on settlement building reinforces that idea. But, as the ‘ultimate deal-maker’, he is confident he can broker an agreement between the two sides.

Let’s look at a similar situation. A bank is robbed; the robber wore no mask, and made no attempt to conceal his identity as he brandished a gun, shot a few tellers, and emptied their drawers. He escaped in a police vehicle

The police are notified. They go to the robber’s house and ask him to please meet with the bank manager, to discuss how much of the money he stole, if any, could be returned to the bank. The murders of the tellers isn’t even mentioned.

The robber agrees; after all, what does he have to lose? As he sits down with the bank manager, word is received that an associate of the robber has robbed yet another bank. The bank manager leaves, seeing that the robber isn’t negotiating in good faith. The police ask the robber to please meet again, but to agree not to rob any more banks during the negotiation period. The robber refuses; he agrees only to negotiations with no pre-conditions. The police drive the robber back home.

Now, this scenario is, of course, ridiculous. When a bank is robbed, the perpetrator, if known, is arrested and the money, if found, is all returned to the bank. If anyone was killed during the robbery, the robber is also accused of murder, and tried for his or her crimes.

But in the lofty circles of international crime, such petty considerations as law, justice and fairness have no role. Israel takes what it wants from Palestine – land, natural resources, etc. – with complete impunity. Why should Israel negotiate, when in doing so, it may have to give up something? Without negotiating, it simply takes whatever it wants, and gives nothing in return.

So what if international law demands an end to both the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the occupation of the West Bank? So what if the land on which 500,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements belongs to the Palestinians from whom it was stolen? What is any of that, when the mighty U.S. finances Israeli crimes, spits on the United Nations, and holds international law in contempt? Israel and the United States are two of just a few nations that haven’t signed on to the International Criminal Court, and are, therefore, not under its jurisdiction. That makes perfect sense from their point of view: when guilty of crimes against humanity, why involve oneself in an international organization that may hold you accountable for such crimes?

So what is to be done? One looks to the U.S., that self-proclaimed beacon of freedom and democracy, in vain. With a government owned by powerful lobbies, with AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) among the most powerful, such trivialities as international law, human rights and basic human dignity have no place in the equation. Photo-ops with Netanyahu, as he accepts $4 billion annually from the U.S., are far more important that tens of thousands of homeless Palestinians, struggling to find clean water in the largest outdoor prison in the world. The monies that flow from various Israeli lobbies, AIPAC chief among them, cannot be jeopardized by such trivialities as human rights and international law. Between 2010 and 2016, those political contributions amounted to $20,193,517. When lobbies donate that much money on a consistent basis, one knows that they are getting what they paid for. And what they pay for has nothing to do with human rights.

The Trump White House is, by all accounts except his own, in total disarray, with morale low and confusion high. The current focus is on the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the now-former head of one branch of U.S. terrorism. Why he was dismissed from his job is in question; the reason seems to change from one presidential ‘tweet’ to the next. Not even his vice-president, the radical Christian-right Zionist Mike Pence, seems to have that particular story straight.

So it is unlikely that Mr. Trump will be brokering any new ‘deals’ between Palestine and its brutal occupier, Israel. What is required is a continuation of the growing people’s movement, informing the public of Israel atrocities by publicizing them on social media. Additionally, pressure must be put on elected officials (this writer does not refer to them as ‘representatives’, since that implies that they represent their constituents, not the multiple lobbies whose work they actually do) to demand that the U.S. adhere to its own laws, which prohibit financial aid to countries in violation of human rights. The continued boycott of Israel, through the ever-growing BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement, must increase.

Despite the continued Israeli barbarity against the Palestinians, all financed and supported by the U.S., Palestine will be free. That day cannot come soon enough for the suffering Palestinians.

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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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.

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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

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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

 

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‘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.

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