Category Archives: Palestine

John McCain: A Hero? Let’s Take a Closer Look

One of the United State’s sacred cows has shed this mortal coil; we will not take the time to speculate on where his next stop might be. But we are all being bombarded with accolades on the legendary, although mythical, ‘greatness’ of the dearly departed Republican senator from Arizona, John McCain.

We will attempt here to take a more unbiased look at McCain, and see 1) where all this hero worship is coming from, and 2), why it is completely undeserved.

McCain seems to have acquired his legendary ‘greatness’ by being a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five years. His plane was shot down while he was dropping bombs on innocent farmers and their families, in a country that in no way threatened the mighty U.S., and where McCain and the other hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers that were sent to terrorize Vietnam never had any business being. One might say he was a victim of U.S. imperialism, but if so, he was a willing victim. But none of this denotes heroism.

Now let us look behind the myth, at the reality. There are a number of areas worth exploring, but time and space will limit us to just a few.

  • Civil Rights:
    • When Congress was voting to make the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday, then member of the House of Representatives McCain joined 89 of his colleagues in opposing it. The bill passed by a vote of 338 to 90. When he was running for president in 2008, he stated that his position had ‘evolved’, and “We can be slow as well to give greatness its due….” But it does appear that he wasn’t slow to give political expediency its due.
    • In 2008, while the U.S. was being threatened with the possibility of a McCain presidency, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rates released its annual rating of all members of Congress. McCain scored 22%; his opponent, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, scored 100%.
  • Gay Rights:
    • The great hero opposed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, a highly-flawed law but better than what was previously codified.
    • He opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was introduced to prevent employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
    • He opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, and supported an initiative in 2006 to ban same-sex marriage in Arizona (the ban failed).
  • Human Rights:
    • He supported Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, one of the world’s most notorious violators of human rights (at that time), having killed thousands of Chilean civilians and having incarcerated tens of thousands more, all for political reasons.
    • McCain was considered a ‘great friend’ of Israel, a nation that has violated the basic human rights of the Palestinians in the most unspeakable ways for decades. He was described the same way by officials of the Saudi Arabian government, another nation noted for it abominable human rights violations.
    • He opposed efforts to close the U.S.’s Cuban-based torture center, Guantanamo Bay, thereby endorsing the use of torture.
  • Ethics:
    • This man who is being lauded as a hero was a member of the Keating Five, a scandal in which five U.S. senators were accused of intervening on behalf of Charles Keating, Jr., who was the chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was under investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. When Lincoln collapsed, over 20,000 bond holders lost all or part of their life savings, and the collapse cost the U.S. government $3.4 billion. Keating’s prior political contributions to McCain totalled at least $112,000, not including elaborate trips for McCain and his family that Keating provided at his palatial estate in the Bahamas, flying them there in his private jet. Although McCain was not charged, he was criticized by the investigating committee for using ‘poor judgment’.
    • McCain supported the illegal sale of weapons to U.S.-funded and U.S.-trained terrorist groups seeking the overthrow of the Nicaraguan government. The Iran-Contra scandal was a major blot (among others) on the administration of Ronald Reagan.
  • Hypocrisy
    • McCain once referred to the Confederate flag as ‘very offensive’, but later called it a ‘symbol of heritage’.
    • He called Jerry Falwell an ‘agent of intolerance’ in 2000, but gave the 2006 commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University.
    • He first supported an immigration policy that included guest workers and amnesty, but later said that, if elected president, he’d call out the U.S. army to close off the Mexican border.
    • McCain moved from opposing President George Bush’s ‘temporary’ tax cuts for the rich to supporting making them permanent.

We could add McCain’s opposition to health care for all U.S. citizens, and his opposition to net neutrality and a federal minimum wage. And we have him to thank for propelling that national embarssment, Sarah Palin, onto the world stage.

This writer has commented previously on the U.S.’s very successful public relations operation, the one that proclaims the nation to be a beacon of peace and security, a bastion of human rights and the envy of the world. These fairy tales aren’t believed much outside of U.S. borders, but are swallowed, hook, line and sinker, within them. That PR expertise has worked overtime to portray a corrupt, opportunistic official with a history of serial murder and support for the war crimes of others as a ‘hero’.

A quick online search for a definition of ‘hero’ results in this: “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”

How much courage does it take to fly over farm fields and drop bombs on defenseless people?

What achievements has McCain accomplished? He has helped prevent citizens from obtaining health care or marrying the person of their choice; he worked to slow the progress of civil rights for people of African descent; he supported nations guilty of the most heinous of war crimes; he enabled the torture of political prisoners.

What ‘noble qualities’ has he demonstrated? He treated himself and his family to lavish vacations in exchange for quashing a federal investigation of his benefactor. He traded in a faithful wife for a younger, more attractive version.

John McCain is dead; his family may have reason to grieve but, from this writer’s perspective, no one else does.

 

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Pity the Democrats and Republicans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by AHTribune.

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Why Palestine is the Civil Rights Issue of our Time

In the last several days, Israeli barbarity against the Palestinians has been featured in the news like never before. The U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, in violation of international law, assisted in publicizing Israel’s crimes. It’s important to understand why this change in favor of Palestine is so important, not only for Palestinians, but for human rights and international law.

In 1948, the newly-minted United Nations gave over 50% of the nation of Palestine to establish Israel. Over 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no decision in their own displacement, and no recompense. Thousands were killed.

Since that time, Israel has had no regard for Palestine’s borders, constantly stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes, displacing more Palestinians, and building illegal settlements for Israelis. International law clearly states that an occupying power cannot move its citizens permanently onto the occupied territory. Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated clearly that not one of the over 500,000 illegal settlers will ever be removed.

In the West Bank, there are roads on which only Israelis can drive. If a newly-build Israeli road crosses one used by Palestinians, the Palestinians are not permitted to even cross it.

Palestinian farmers must obtain permission from Israel to farm their own lands. That permission is often only granted after a long waiting period, after the time for planting or harvesting has passed. When farmers are able to plant on time, their crops often rot in the fields, because Israel refuses permission to harvest them.

In Israel, there is one set of laws governing Israelis, and another governing Arabs. Penalties for crimes committed by Arabs are far more severe than those for the same crimes committed by Israelis. Palestinian children who are accused of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers can spend 15 years in prison. Israeli soldiers, filmed shooting unarmed Palestinian teens in the back, face no consequences whatever.

The West Bank is full of checkpoints, staffed by Israelis and arbitrarily opened and closed. These arbitrary openings and closings turn what should be a short commute to school or work into an hours-long ordeal. Women in labor have been blocked from crossing, resulting in dozens of babies being born at checkpoints, without medical assistance. Many babies requiring medical attention have died because Israeli soldiers refuse to allow their mothers to take them through a checkpoint to a medical facility.

Israel has a powerful military, provided by the United States. Palestine has no army, no navy and no air force. The media is quick to report any ‘rockets’ fired into Israel by Palestine. Dr. Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, describes those rockets as ‘enhanced fireworks’. Calling them rockets, he says, serves a purpose for both Palestine and Israel. For Palestinians, they at least feel that their government is doing something on their behalf (please remember that, according to international law, an occupied people has the right to resist the occupation in any way possible); for Israel, calling them ‘rockets’ conjures up a picture of deadly missiles raining down on defenseless people.

The facts, however, tell their own story. In the last 18 years, 242 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. During that same time, nearly 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. These tolls include 134 Israeli children, and 2,167 Palestinian children.

Much criticism is directed toward Hamas, the democratically-elected government of the Gaza Strip. The United States has decreed this to be a terrorist organization. Yet after Hamas’ election, the government in the Gaza Strip worked to improve conditions there.

Hamas is criticized for not recognizing the existence of Israel. Yet Israel has been slowly destroying Palestine for decades. Hamas does not have the power to destroy Israel, yet by ‘appropriating’ more and more Palestinian land for Israeli-only housing, Israel is slowly destroying Palestine.

Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip since the election of Hamas. Shortly after Hamas’ electoral victory, an Israeli official describe Israel’s response: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” By restricting the amount of food that is able to be imported, and blocking Palestinian efforts to grow their own, Israel further oppresses the people of Palestine.

The Gaza Strip is blocked by air, sea and land, on all sides. Palestinians in Gaza wanting to visit friends or relatives in the West Bank, part of their own country, are not allowed to do so. Leaving the Strip for medical attention which isn’t available in Gaza, mainly due to Israeli restrictions on medical imports, is next to impossible.

These facts have been concealed by the U.S. and Israel for decades, partly due to the power of Israeli lobbies in the U.S. Yet as U.S. citizens learn the truth, sympathy for the Palestinians is growing. This is shown in a variety of ways. International condemnation of Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed Palestinians, even killing members of the press, is increasing. In the U.S. there is a sea change; not a single Democrat attended the recent opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Israel’s existence as a nation is an accepted reality, despite the fact that it is only 70 years old. Palestinians, whose country predates Biblical times, fight for that same recognition. Increasingly, the world is siding with Palestine, justice, international law and human rights.

Originally published by AHTribune.

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What’s Wrong With the United States?

Despite the myth perpetrated by United States spokespersons, the country is not, and never has been, a beacon of peace and freedom, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, or a democracy that is the envy of the word. It is, and always has been, a racist, imperialist society, an oligarchy and, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.

Today it is living up to violent, bloody truths that comprise its existence. We will look at just a few of the circumstance today that embody that violence.

The U.S. has just violated an international treaty, by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement also signed by Russia, China, England, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran. The purpose of this agreement was to regulate Iran’s nuclear ambitions (such as they are), in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed upon that country. The JCPOA was signed by the U.S under President Barack Obama, but it was not an agreement between him and the other nations; it was a binding agreement under international law. By violating it, the U.S. has send a strong message to the world that its word cannot be relied upon; has betrayed some of the country’s closest and oldest allies, and may even sanction them if they continue to do business with Iran, which each of the other signatories says they will do, since Iran is and has been in complete compliance with the agreement.

Additionally, the U.S., which has been at war for 225 years of its 242 year history, and which is currently bombing seven countries and supporting terrorist groups in Syria, accuses Iran, which has not invaded another country since 1798, of being the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. This is Orwellianism at its best.

The current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, previously oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S.’s major torture apparatus. His assistant, one Gina Haspel, who actually directed and oversaw the torture of political prisoners, and then destroyed the evidence, is just about to be confirmed by Congress to head the CIA. This tells volumes about Congress’s disregard for international law, civil rights and even common human decency.

Against the advice of nearly the entire international community, and again in violation of international law, President Donald Trump has established the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem. As this was planned, demonstrations were being held every Friday in Gaza, demanding the internationally-recognized right of return, on the border of Gaza and Israel, but on the Palestinian side. Hundreds of unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli sniper fire; thousands more have been injured. Israel has dropped endless amounts of tear gas on peaceful demonstrators. Yet Trump has said nothing, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the incompetent and clown-like Nikki Haley has blamed the Palestinians for the violence. To add to her endless stupidity, when the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. began addressing that body, she walked out!

Let’s look at all this from an international perspective. Every other nation that is a party to the JCPOA attempted to convince Trump to maintain the agreement. The only two nations on the planet that praised his decision are Saudi Arabia and Israel, two nations with human rights records that are among the most dismal in the world. Hardly the company any respectable country would want to keep.

When the shocking information of Bush-era torture was first revealed, the world recoiled in horror. President George Bush’s Attorney General determined that what the rest of the world, and international law, defined as torture was not so if the U.S. did it. This was a crock that no other nation was willing to buy.

And let’s look at the situation in Palestine. Finally, nearly the entire international community has condemned Israeli violence in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed a resolution calling for an independent investigation of that violence. One must wonder why that is: if Israel did, in face, exercise the great restraint that Haley proclaims it did, and if Israel has nothing to hide, why not have an independent investigation? Wouldn’t such an investigation exonerate Israel, and immediately silence all its critics? Perhaps the U.S., an extremely violent society itself, knows, as well as the rest of the world, that Israel is in violation of countless international laws, and even the most cursory investigation would clearly reveal and officially determine what the world already knows.

Even in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress, there seems to be more than a little disquiet about Israel’s apartheid regime. As Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, the ceremony was attended by a variety of U.S. members of Congress, yet not a single Democrat showed up. This is a seismic shift in Congress, and one that bodes well for Palestine.

While three, current atrocities that the U.S. is committing on the international stage have been discussed herein, they are not the only ones. Unarmed people of color continue to be gunned down in the streets by the racist police force, with nearly complete impunity. The U.S., with its increasing number of for-profit prisons, incarcerates its citizens at a higher rate than any other country on earth. Tax dollars feed the bloated military budget, as more and more people fall into poverty, where they find decreasing government services available to them. The government serves the needs of powerful lobbies over constituents. Political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, after studying thousands of policy decisions, said this: “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preference of the average American appears to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

This is the United States today. This is the much-touted ‘democracy’ of which its ignorant and uninformed citizens are so proud. This is the model to which, we are told, the whole world aspires.

Many lies are believed for years; the lies of the U.S. are finally being exposed, showing the nation for what it really is. As its power declines, it will go through a period where it is more dangerous than it has ever been, and this seems to be what the world is now experiencing. One hopes the trigger-happy, war-mongering U.S. doesn’t destroy the entire world as it quickly loses power, influence and international legitimacy.

Originally published by AHTribune.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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