Category Archives: Human Rights

Israel Enshrines Apartheid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published in RPFront.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Lies about Palestine from the United States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The list goes on.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Originally published by the USJournal.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ocasio-Cortez, Palestine and Occupation

A slight glimmer of hope appeared on the dismal Democratic Party horizon in June when newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated ten-term Congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s fourteenth Congressional district. Outspent but not out-maneuvered, Ocasio-Cortez won the primary in a landslide.

Unlike her AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee)-owned primary opponent, Ocasio-Cortez has been critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestine and Palestinians. For generations this has been a complete no-no within Democratic Party circles (as unqualified support for that apartheid nations remains an article of faith for the Republican Party), but the last several months have seen cracks in the Israeli veneer. Yet Ocasio-Cortez has been the strongest in her condemnation.

In an interview following her victory, Ocasio-Cortez was taken to task for referring to the situation in Palestine as an occupation. Her questioner demanded to know just what she meant. Admitting that she wasn’t an expert on the topic, she referred to the illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Well! One would think she committed the worst kind of blasphemy known to man. Zionists everywhere are condemning her use of the vile word ‘occupation’ to describe Israel’s actions in Palestine. She is being pilloried for conceding that she wasn’t an expert on every topic under the sun, unlike so many politicians who are willing to wax eloquently and endlessly on topics about which they know nothing. And this very topic, the brutal occupation of Palestine by Israel, is one on which many of them know very little, their knowledge colored by how much AIPAC donates to them, and about which they feel free to speak.

It seems that Israel and its many Zionist (read: racist) followers are now trying to deny reality; this isn’t surprising, since U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are best buds, and Trump barely has a nodding acquaintance with reality, and Netanyahu is happy to take whatever advantage he can of Trump and the U.S. It seems that now Israel is denying that it occupies Palestine.

Let us look at the situation in the context of international law. Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations states the following: “a territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.”

Now we will look at the situation in Palestine. Israel’s army controls every aspect of life in the West Bank. Palestinians have their movements restricted; they cannot farm their fields without Israel permission, go to work without Israeli permission, attend school, visit family or friends, or generally move about without Israeli permission. Palestinians are subject to arrest and detention without charge at the whim of Israel soldiers/terrorists.

The Gaza Strip, separated from the West Bank, is completely controlled by the hostile Israeli army. It is blockaded on all sides by land, sea and air. Imports and exports are heavily restricted by Israel. It is extremely rare for a resident of Gaza to be able to leave the strip, even to visit family or friends in the West Bank.

Does this not, even to the untrained eye, look like occupation?

As long as we are looking at ugly concepts, let’s chat for a moment about apartheid. The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid describes these conditions as constituting that particular crime: “… inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” We will look at some of the specifics from the International Convention, and comment on them in relation to Israel and Palestine. While this is only a partial list, a review of the complete list would only enhance one’s belief that Israel is an apartheid regime.

  • “Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of

Person.”

Israeli soldiers and settlers, living illegally on stolen Palestinian land, routinely kill Palestinians. Palestinians have been shot in the back, run over by vehicles, shot while attending the wounded or reporting on Israel’s actions. Palestinians are routinely arrested and held indefinitely, often without charge.

  • “By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental

harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to

cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Where does one start? Palestinian children report physical and sexual abuse in Israel’s prisons, where they should never be in the first place. Farmers are often only granted permission to plant or harvest crops, long after the season for planting or harvesting has passed. Palestinian homes in the West Bank are raided in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, with the houses ransacked, valuable goods within them stolen, and any and all males over the age of 12 taken in to custody.

  • “Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its

or their physical destruction in whole or in part.”

In the West Bank, Palestinians are driven from their homes to make room for illegal, Israeli-only housing settlements. In the Gaza Strip, food is restricted such that Palestinians live just above starvation. Import and export restrictions cause severe unemployment, and lack of medical supplies. Periodic bombing of the Gaza Strip leaves tens of thousands of people homeless, and Israel forbids the importing of construction materials, so Palestinians are unable to rebuild.

  • “Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or

groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country.”

Israel recently passed a law declaring it a Jewish state; proposals to ensure equal rights for others living within its borders were defeated. Arabs and people of African descent living within Jerusalem are discriminated against in housing, education and employment.

  • “The deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or

groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights

and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to

education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to

freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the

right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

Most of these have been covered earlier, but we will comment here on “the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”. Starting in March, Palestinians peacefully protested at Israel’s border, demanding the internationally-granted right of return. Hundreds of demonstrators, including medics and members of the press, have been killed by Israeli snipers.

Perhaps Ocasio-Cortez isn’t an expert on the situation in Palestine, but that need not prevent her from speaking out against the injustices that she clearly sees. Neither should it prevent anyone from opposing arbitrary arrests of men, women and children without charge; land theft; killing with impunity and the many other crimes against humanity of which Israel is guilty.

As more and more organizations, including churches, businesses and labor unions, shun dealing with Israel; as more nations take action against its crimes, and as the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement chalks up success after success, Israel and its Zionist supports are desperate to retake the narrative that they controlled for so long. It isn’t working. Truth, justice, international law and human rights have been ignored by Israel and its U.S. sponsor for too long. The ‘alternate facts’ that Trump, Netanyahu and others of their ilk would have us hear are simply no longer acceptable.

Originally published on Counterpunch.

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Has It Really Come to This?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by AHTribune.

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Iran Hawks Take Aim at Iran’s Charitable Organizations

In May of this year, the United States violated an international agreement made with Russia, China, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran when it withdrew from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The thrust of this agreement, which was certified by the United Nations, regulated Iran’s nuclear development program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against that country.

The U.S. had included domestically that the president must certify to Congress every six months that Iran was in compliance, based on the findings of U.N. inspectors. During the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, he advised Congress officially that Iran was in compliance.

During President Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he often maligned the JCPOA, calling it the ‘worst deal ever’ and vowing to withdraw from it. Despite the pleas of the other nations that are a party to the JCPOA, he finally did so, after certifying compliance during the first year of his administration.

It must be noted that Trump didn’t withdraw as a result of any violation of the terms by Iran; U.N. inspectors, and the other nations involved, all agree that Iran is in complete compliance. It is the U.S., not Iran, that has violated the terms of the agreement.

As a result, the U.S. is re-imposing the sanctions that were to have been lifted with the signing of the agreement. On June 6, 2018, a lengthy article by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on National Security, was released, entitled, Protecting America from a Bad Deal: Ending U.S. Participation in the Nuclear Agreement. In it, the writers describe how it was non-binding on the U.S., and ending it was necessary for U.S. national security.

These fictions, put into a slick presentation, do not change the fact that they are fictions. An international agreement entered into by the United States, as represented by the president, is binding. If this was a bad deal, it was only so for Iran, since the U.S. was not bound to remove the sanctions it issued, despite what the deal said. So while the other nations involved were honest and direct, the U.S., as is its custom, was not.

In proposing additional sanctions, this document once again singles out the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO). In establishing this organization, the Ayatollah said this: “I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country; prepare this organization for this purpose.”

Well, is it any wonder that a society that has an ever-increasing poor population would resent another society that seeks to help the poor? By sanctioning the EIKO, the U.S. will only succeed in doing what it does best: hurting innocent people.

The rationale behind this seems to be that if things get bad enough in Iran due to U.S. sanctions, the people of Iran will rise up against their own government. This underestimates the Iranian people; again, such behavior is typical for U.S. government officials. It is, and will continue to be, clear to the people of Iran that it is not their government that is causing them problems; rather, it is the same government that supported the brutal regime of the Shah until a popular movement overthrew him.

One paragraph from the U.S. document mentioned above is instructive:

“Regular briefings by Treasury Department officials to review potential sanctions targets, including companies owned or controlled by the IRGC and Iran’s defense industry (which represent 20 percent of the total market capitalization of the Tehran Stock Exchange) and the supreme leader’s $200-billion business conglomerate, including EIKO and the bonyads (charitable trusts) where the mullahs store their money.”

Apparently, the U.S., which is so concerned about its national security that it spends more on its military than the next eight countries combined, and which is currently bombing seven countries, and attempting to destabilize at least three others, wants to deprive Iran, a country that hasn’t invaded another country since 1798 (yes that is 220 years ago), of its means of defense. The IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, is a highly-respected military organization responsible for, among other things, protecting the nation from outside forces.

Additionally, without any supporting evidence, the article states that Iran’s Supreme Leader has a “$200 billion dollar business conglomerate”, and states that the EIKO is part of it! The EIKO is an independent charitable organization.

Finally, in just this one short paragraph, the writers say that the mullahs store their money in charitable trusts. Would not these writers perhaps want to look a little closer to home, to see the way former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, use their ‘charitable organization’ for their own purposes?

A resent ‘tweet’ by one Mark Dubowitz reads the following:

Mark Dubowitz

@mdubowitz
It’s delusional to believe there’s legitimate business with regime & its instrumentalities including Iranian financial sector, other strategic sectors dominated by the IRGC, EIKO, foundations & other malign actors. CBI governor used his central bank to finance QF!

Mark Fitzpatrick

@FitzpatrickIISS
The effort is to erase the difference between legitimate and corrupt business links, and to make all business with #Iran illegal. Economic warfare, in other words. https://twitter.com/mdubowitz/status/1000058822768189443 …

But where is his evidence? Couldn’t one say, in reference to the U.S., that “it’s delusional to believe” there’s any legitimate reason for bombing seven countries, caging children, prevented Muslims from travelling to the U.S., and a myriad of other activities? Isn’t it ‘delusional’ to spend more on the military than that of the next eight countries combined? Is there a ‘legitimate’ reason to have nearly 1,000 military bases across the globe, including several surrounding Iran?

The U.S. will continue to malign Iran and its democratically-elected government, despite the fact that the U.S. is an oligarchy, so far removed from being a democracy that it’s farcical to refer to it as such. It will attempt to destabilize Iran through interference in its internal workings; fortunately, the IRGC is strong, and will defeat such attempts. The U.S. may even invade Iran at Israel’s insistence, regardless of the disaster that that would be for Israel, the U.S. and much of the world.

But for now, the mighty U.S., a world power with declining international influence, will attempt to strong-arm its allies to mirror its own actions, and violate the JCPOA. Thus far, those allies are not in agreement, and are encouraging continued and expanded trade with Iran. For the good of Iran and the world, it is hoped that they, and not the U.S., prevail.

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Palestine, the United Nations and the Right of Return

The United Nations has been busy attempting, with little efficacy, to address Israeli violence toward Palestine. On June 1, ten members of the Security Council voted in favor of a resolution that would have helped protect Palestinians from Israeli violence, and would have criticized that violence. Four members abstained, and the United States, of course, vetoed the resolution. Later that same day, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., the incompetent and clown-like Nikki Haley, introduced legislation that would have condemned Hamas for its purported violence. The only nation that voted to support that resolution was the United States; this may have been the first time in U.N. history that a resolution was introduced in the Security Council that gained only a single vote, and that by the nation that introduced it.

On the very day that the U.S. opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, in defiance of nearly the entire international community, Israel killed at least 60 unarmed Palestinian protestors. Haley has made a variety of statements concerning the protests, which are worth examining. We will look at just a few here.

“Those who suggest the violence has anything to do with the embassy in Jerusalem is sorely mistaken….”

Palestinians have been protesting at the border since March, demanding that they be granted the internationally-recognized right of return; this means that those Palestinians who were driven from their homes at any time since the Nakba (catastrophe; the expulsion of three-quarters of a million Palestinians and the slaughter of thousands more to establish the ‘nation’ of Israel) have the legal right to return to their homes, or be compensated for the loss if the homes are no longer standing. The protestors planned to culminate their protest on the day that the U.S. violated international law and opened its embassy in Jerusalem. On that day, Israelis killed dozens and dozens of unarmed protestors. The violence perpetrated by Israel upon defenseless Palestinians is very much connected with the embassy move. The source of that violence is Israel.

“…rather it comes from people who will not accept Israel in any part of Israel.”

One must ask if Haley has absolutely no concept of reality. Does she really believe this? Does she think that Palestinians are living in freedom and prosperity, but demonstrate against Israel because they “will not accept Israel in any part of Israel”? It isn’t even that Palestinians will not accept Israel in any part of Palestine. It is that Palestinians will not accept a brutal occupation; the continuing demolition of their homes and theft of their lands. They will not accept arrests and long detentions of men, women and children without charge. They will not accept being denied access to their own farmlands for planting and harvesting; they will not accept countless checkpoints, arbitrarily opened and closed by Israeli soldier-terrorists. They will not accept rationing their water, while Israel accesses Palestinian water sources to fill their swimming pools. They will not accept electricity for only a few hours a day, because Israel has bombed their power plants.

“They light kites to cause as much destruction as possible.”

If it were possible for anyone to take Haley seriously before, surely she is now dismissed universally as an ignorant buffoon. Palestinians are lighting fire to “kites to cause as much destruction as possible.” This is in response to Israeli sharpshooters, shooting medics who are clearly marked as such. Flaming kites are in response to drones, tear gas, sniper fire and all the violence that Israel seems to take such pleasure in raining down on the Palestinians. Does Haley believe that the sight of a burning kite causes mass terror among Israeli soldiers? Does she believe that the entire city of Tel Aviv is in grave dangers, because a kite that has been set on fire approaches, or even crosses, Israel’s border?

Does she not see that Palestinians might feel terror when, in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers break into their homes at any hour of the day or night, ransack and loot them, and carry away all the males over the age of 12? Does she have no empathy or sympathy for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip whose homes are periodically bombed by Israel? Does she feel nothing for those who flee to clearly-marked United Nations refugee centers, only to be bombed there? Has she no compassion when Israeli soldiers attempt to arrest children under the age of ten?

Is she without any knowledge of international law, human rights, or even basic human decency?

The world has grown tired of all this, even if Israel and the U.S. seem to relish it. While the recent resolution passed by the General Assembly is non-binding, it does serve to further tarnish Israel’s already blackened reputation, and further isolate it, and the United States, on the world stage.

Sadly, however, the worldwide condemnation of Israel changes nothing on the ground for Palestinians. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians still live in abject poverty; they are unable to export their goods, or import much needed building and medical supplies. They continue to be shot at, and sometimes killed, and have their boats ‘confiscated’ (read: stolen), by Israeli terrorists, when fishing well within the internationally-recognized Palestinians waters. In the West Bank, they still must deal with checkpoints, brutal and often fatal harassment by illegal Israeli settlers, and all the horror that accompanies the actions of the brutal Israeli apartheid regime.

Change will only come for the Palestinians when the world’s people finally say ‘Enough!’. When those in the U.S. defeat elected officials who are owned by Israeli lobbies, and when either one of the two major political parties supports the Palestinians, or another party grows in sufficient strength to effectively do so.

The U.S. and Israel are losing influence in the world; the actions of their two heads of state, the erratic and delusional U.S. President Donald Trump, and the violent and racist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are accelerating this. Unfortunately, like a once-powerful animal that has been mortally wounded, their violence may increase in direct proportion to their waning influence. Cooler heads of state must work to prevent a worldwide catastrophe at the hands of these two rogue, violent regimes.

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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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“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie

‘Damascus Time’ is an exceptional story that takes place in current, war-ravaged Syria. A humanitarian flight, taking besieged people from the city of Palmyra to Damascus, piloted by an Iranian father and son, is hijacked by ISIS prisoners on board. What follows is a tragic story, demonstrating the barbaric cruelty of ISIS, and that organization’s equally barbaric perversion of Islam.

Although there are terrifying scenes of the carnage of war sprinkled throughout the movie, they help to set the scene, but the story is far more than a war story; it has many levels that are extremely timely today. The sometimes complicated relationship between fathers and sons, the deeply-felt need to respond to the call of duty, and the concept of sacrificing for the greater good are all interwoven in this story.

The viewer sees the fanaticism of ISIS members, who believe they are sent by God to establish a society molded after their perverse interpretation of Islam. Their irrationality is on full display throughout much of the movie.

The fear that innocent people suffer in any war is realistically portrayed, far beyond the sanitized versions that are so often a product of Hollywood. Blood, violent death and desperation all bring the viewer into the reality of war, to the extent possible for someone not directly involved.

Above all, the heroism that is sometimes demonstrated when ordinary people answer the call to accomplish extraordinary things is a defining feature of this movie.

Evidence today is far more than sufficient to indicate that the United States has supported ISIS in various parts of the world. Its motivation in doing so seems to be ultimately to protect Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, which is currently threatened by Iran’s growing power and influence.

While any individual or small group may take any religion and twist its teaching to serve some perverse goal – witness how the Christian ‘right’ glorifies money and war, and condemns such ‘evils’ as health care  – without someone financing them, they will remain a small minority without power or influence. However, backed by the wealth of the U.S., any group can become powerful, as is witnessed by the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria. Yet with the assistance of Iran and Russia, ISIS is losing ground in Syria, even as the U.S. bombs that nation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that was more likely done by U.S. – financed ISIS than the Syrian government.

‘Damascus Time’ shows what it is that the U.S. has wrought. Innocent men, women and children are suffering and dying because of the U.S.’s bizarre geopolitical goals, and there seems to be no end in sight to U.S. financing of such terrorism.

This viewer was quickly drawn in to the movie, caring about the main characters, wanting and hoping for the best for them. The rivalries between different factions of ISIS, and the unspeakable cruelty common to all of them, was brought home for him repeatedly throughout the move.

Yet it was the main character, the Iranian pilot, that drew him in most of all; a devoted husband and father-to-be, dedicated to his wife but also to assisting the suffering people in Syria, Ali could be the gentleman next door who finds himself in a unique but extremely risky position, unable to turn his back on people who needed him.

It is hoped that in the United States, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will recognize the astounding greatness of this movie, and give it its highest honor, the Academy Award for Best Picture.  That, of course, will depend on how the political wind is blowing when the nominees are selected, but this is a movie that will stay with this viewer for a long time. He hopes that it will be widely viewed, especially within the United States.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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