Category Archives: Gaza

Palestine and Other Arab Nations

            With the demonstrations that began on Land Day ongoing, and Israel continuing its brutal, illegal, inhumane repression of the Palestinians, much of the world remains silent. Even other mainly Muslim, Arab countries seem to look the other way, as another Arab country suffers at the hands of its Zionist oppressor.

This tragic and criminal situation was addressed recently by the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. He stated that “One grave danger, which is threatening the world of Islam today, is undermining the important issue of Palestine and consigning it to oblivion”.

Why is this? Why is the brutal, decades-long, criminal occupation of Palestine by the Zionist entity a threat to the world of Islam?

People and nations need to know their enemies, and Zionism has demonstrated itself to be the enemy of Islam. As the Ayatollah said: “An Islamic country has been completely occupied, not a small strip of land, city or village, but an entire country!” Not only is it occupied, but the people of Palestine are oppressed unlike any others, and have been for generations.

Where is the international outrage from these Arab countries, as the Land Day demonstrations have been disrupted by Israel, wherein at least 18 innocent, unarmed Palestinians have been killed? Palestinians are demonstrating on their own land (we will assume, for the sake of discussion, that Israel has some international legitimacy), not in Israel. Yet Zionist-entity terrorists murder them, and drop tear-gas on peaceful protestors, who are simply demanding rights guaranteed to them by international law.

But Arab nations are mostly, although not completely, silent. Most of them, to again quote the Ayatollah, “… behave, speak and act, in ways that culminate with the issue of Palestine being ignored and consigned to oblivion”. If the Zionist entity is allowed to so victimize Palestine, will it stop there? Or will Syria and Iraq be next? Will Turkey be safe?

Saudi Arabia may believe itself to be safe because of its support of the Zionist regime. Its current leader, Mohammed bin Salman, speaks disparagingly of Palestine, Iran and even the Ayatollah, while it praises Israel. Yet Israel, aligned so closely with the United States, cannot be trusted any more than the violent, brutal, terrorist regime of the U.S. can be trusted. Israel has set its sights on dominating the Middle East, and any current rapprochement with Saudi Arabia will only be temporary.

In his recent speech, the Ayatollah also said that “Palestine is the primary issue of the Islamic world”. If Palestine is allowed to be occupied out of existence, the rest of the Islamic world is not safe. Israeli government officials and spokespeople are forever proclaiming that any opposition to Israel or its racist, apartheid policies is a threat to its very existence. Yet, for decades, it has been stealing Palestinian land, bulldozing Palestinian homes to make room for the construction of Israel-only residences, stealing Palestinian natural resources, and killing innocent, unarmed Palestinian men, women and children. It is Palestine’s existence that is under threat, not Israel’s.

The actions of U.S. President Donald Trump should also alarm the leaders of all Arab, mostly Muslim nations. He has attempted to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and that may be the most benign of his hateful and hate-filled actions. In opposition to international law, and the consensus of the international community, he has declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This decision has been condemned around the world, in the seats of nearly all the governments of the world except that of Israel.

The U.S. government gives Israel $4 billion in aid every year, more than it gives to all other nations combined. This, while schools in the U.S. are crumbling, the infrastructure is failing, one major city has been without clean water for at least three years, and at least 20% of its own population lives in poverty. It’s partiality to Israel should alarm other nations in the Middle East.

Additionally, Trump is expected to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international agreement that regulates Iran’s nuclear development (not that such an agreement was ever needed; Iran’s spokespeople have always said that their nuclear development program is for peaceful purposes, unlike the nuclear development programs of the U.S. and Israel). In exchange for signing the agreement, unjust sanctions issued against Iran were lifted. Now, again in defiance of the international community, Trump is threatening to withdraw from this agreement.

Trump’s hostility to Arab nations, and to Islam, is on full display. The U.S. is bombing several, mostly-Islamic nations. Those nations being so victimized are well aware of U.S. violence and evil, as that nation’s bombs kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, mostly ‘non-combatants’. Other nations, not currently feeling the deadly impact of U.S. bombs, must understand the potential peril to themselves, as they witness all that the U.S. currently perpetrates.

The cause of Palestine is the human rights issue of this generation. Around the world, the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement grows in strength, even as the U.S. and other nations attempt to ban it (in the U.S., such a ban violates the U.S. Constitution). It is long past time for other Arab nations to follow the lead of Iran in supporting the struggles of the Palestinian people. They must look to Palestine as an example of their own future. They can control that future by assisting the Palestinian people in shedding the oppressive hand of occupation, and becoming, once again, a free and prosperous nation. If they ignore Palestine, than a future of war, occupation and genocide awaits them, all at the hands of Israel and the U.S. The choice is there; the time to act is now.

 

 

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Palestinian Land Day, 2018

The United States government is consistent in very little, but in its opposition to Palestinian rights, there is no question: it opposes every possible move. Violent actions against the brutal, illegal Israel occupation are condemned as barbaric acts of terrorism, while horrific violence perpetrated by Israel is financed and supported. Peaceful actions, such as the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, are outlawed in the U.S. (although such laws have not as yet stood up to any court challenges, and are clearly unconstitutional).

So with that dismal record of lack of support for the basic human rights of the Palestinians, it is likely that the planned Land Day events, starting on March 30, will also be condemned.

Land Day commemorates one of Israel’s many slaughters of innocent people, this one on March 30, 1976, when the announced theft of Palestinian land was met with peaceful, unarmed opposition by Palestinians. Israelis, not knowing the mean of peace, killed six unarmed Palestinians. This year, on March 30, Palestinians in Gaza will begin a six-week long event, camping near the Israeli border, and demanding the right of return. Estimates indicate that as many as 100,000 Gazans may take part, and Israeli violence is expected.

What is it that Israel has to fear? According to international law, refugees driven from their homes have a right to return, and this right was promised the Palestinians decades ago. But the concern in Israel goes beyond that. Once again, Palestinians are using peaceful means of protest, when all Israel knows is violence. It is likely that there will be more killing of innocent Palestinians in the next six weeks, as Israel sees almost anything as ‘provocation’ and an ‘existential threat’. The very existence of Palestinians is seen as both. Imagine, now, how Israeli officials will view 100,000 Palestinians, peacefully camping at its always-fluid, ever-expanding borders.

For years, Israel controlled the narrative. It was the vulnerable nation, wanting nothing more than to live in peace and harmony, and needing to continually defend itself against violent Palestinians. Any concept of equal rights for Arabs living within its borders; the recognition of the violence perpetrated against Palestinians when Israel was established; the separate, and much harsher, laws for Palestinians living in Israel; the home demolitions, murders, kidnapping and other unspeakable violence committed by Israel against Palestinians were all swept under the rug.

With the rapid-fire growth of social media, when anyone with Internet access and a camera could have a worldwide audience, control of the narrative began to slip from Israel’s bloody grasp. Around the world, people saw innocent children slaughtered by Israel soldiers on a Gaza beach. United Nations emergency centers, bombed by Israel when filled with people fleeing Israeli violence, became common knowledge. The disproportionate death toll between Palestine and Israel shocked the world.

Although most governments ignored the slaughter, their citizens did not, and that is what most concerns Israel. Study after study indicates that younger Jews have less affiliation and loyalty to Israel, and younger non-Jews increasingly support Palestine. This means that the future leaders of the world will not accept apartheid in Israel. Perhaps this is the reason that Israel has increased settlement building; the government wants to steal as much land as possible, before there is a sea change in governments.

Evidence of this is already available. Right after U. S. President Donald Trump, one of the most dangerous and incompetent leaders the world has known in generations, announced that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a resolution condemning that action was brought to the United Nations Security Council. Only the U.S., with veto power, voted against it.  The General Assembly, however, a more democratic body than the Security Council, voted 128 to 9 to condemn the U.S. decision.

Just days ago, the United Nations said that Israel must pay for damages to seven United Nations facilities damaged in the genocidal slaughter of 2014. Israel, of course, says that Hamas was responsible for that damage, despite the lack of any evidence to support that bizarre claim. The fact that the U.N. investigated, and found Israel entirely responsible, is meaningless to Israel’s government. The U.N. is seeking about $600,000, a drop in the bucket of what the U.S. gives Israel annually. In fact, the U.S. provides more than that to Israel every hour.

Even more astonishing, the almost completely unified, bipartisan Congressional support for Israel is no longer accepted as fact. The cracks in that particular wall are small, but for decades it seemed impenetrable.

And now, tens of thousands of unarmed Palestinians are going to put themselves at risk, to demand their basic human rights.  The U.N. has already cautioned Israel about targeting civilians, especially children. But Israel has shown complete contempt for anything the United Nations says, so there is little reason to think it will heed this warning.

But what will be the result if Israel decides to take its default position, which is wholesale slaughter? The U.S. will defend it, of course, saying it has the right to defend its borders against people camping near them, on their own territory. But Israel, increasingly isolated in the world community, will find little support outside of Washington, D.C.

Israel and the U.S. are both currently led by militaristic, ego-centric men with little regard for international law of even common human decency. Both face severe challenges to their leadership, due to ongoing investigations of possible criminal activity. They will be united in condemning Land Day activities, and supporting whatever violent measures Israel uses in response. But they will stand alone on the international stage, when the audience is gone, having moved to a different theater, one where human rights have a starring role. There will be no place there for Israel or the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

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Palestine and Israeli Recognition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Israel Has Played Trump as a Complete Fool

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) The convening of an international conference;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Saudi Arabia and Israel: Strange Bedfellows

Saudi Arabia and Israel: Strange Bedfellows

In the swirling, ever-changing but always-corrupt world of global political maneuverings, the jockeying for position in the Middle East is currently an area of international focus. This is caused mainly because Iran’s power and influence in that area of the world has been on the increase, much to the dismay of its bitter enemies, Saudi Arabia and Israel. And whatever displeases Israel, displeases the government of the United States, thanks to the influential Israeli lobbies operating in the U.S.

We will first look at the key players in this ongoing drama: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S.

  • Iran has not invaded another nation since 1798. It has successfully defended itself against attacks, and has assisted its allies, most recently helping the democratically-elected government of Syria against foreign forces, supported by the U.S. and Israel, attempting to overthrow the government. Iran’s human rights record could be improved, but that statement is true about most of the countries on the planet.
  • Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is currently assisting the U.S. in the barbaric destruction of Yemen. Only in the last day or so has it allowed humanitarian aid to enter that country, where millions of children face death by starvation. A law was recently passed in the Saudi kingdom that will allow women to drive; this must be fully implemented by 2019. Women in Iran, on the other hand, have been driving since 1963. In July of this year, this writer visited Iran, and was greatly impressed by the freedom and independence of the women he observed there. This level of freedom, as manifested not only by driving, but by educational and employment opportunities, is not present in Saudi Arabia.
  • Israel, established in 1947 – 1948 on the brutal ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Palestinians, and the savage murders of at least 10,000, including men, women and children, the elderly and infants not being spared, has one of the most dismal human rights records on earth. It is an apartheid regime, with separate laws, roads and neighborhoods for Palestinians. The roads and neighborhoods are far inferior to those for Israelis, and to say that the laws that are applied only to Palestinians are Draconian is a classic understatement. Unarmed Palestinian men, women and children are routinely murdered by Israeli soldiers and settlers living illegally in occupied territories, with nearly complete impunity. At least 500,000 Israeli settlers live on Palestinian land, in violation of international law.
  • The atrocities committed by Israel and Saudi Arabia are either supported and/or financed by the United States. It violates its own laws by granting aid to Israel, amounting to more than it gives all other nations combined; U.S. law states that aid cannot be given to nations that don’t meet a certain standard of human rights, a standard Israel falls far below, and aid cannot be given to undeclared nuclear nations. Domestically, the income gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is the largest of any nation in the world. Unarmed blacks are routinely shot and killed by white police officers, and any indictment for these murders is rare, with convictions even rarer. The current president was inaugurated despite losing the popular vote by more than 3,000,000 votes, mocking the very concept of democracy. Government officials appointed by the president are among the richest citizens in the country, and their policies are designed to further enrich them and their already-wealthy associates. The U.S. has been at war for over 210 years of its bloody 240-year history. Just since World War II, it is estimated that the U.S. has killed over 20,000,000 people. So while it supports the cruel, brutal regimes of foreign governments, it has not been idle in committing its own, heinous crimes.

Against this ugly background, Saudi Arabia and Israel have been holding ‘unofficial’ meetings, to determine how they can best work together to counter Iran’s growing power. The government of Saudi Arabia has long refused to recognize Israel, making such recognition contingent upon Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 borders (those established by the United Nations in 1947; the criminality and immorality of that decision is a topic for a different day), and the establishment of an independent Palestinian nation with East Jerusalem as its capital. This would require, among other things, the removal of the half-million settlers living illegally on Palestinian land, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sworn never to do; he has proclaimed that not even one will be removed, as he continues stealing Palestinian land and building more illegal settlements.

Could this be a positive development for Palestine? Does Israel want so desperately to receive diplomatic recognition from Saudi Arabia that it will agree to the terms and conditions established by international law? It seems unlikely. Saudi Arabia is just as desperate to ally with Israel against Iran, and will probably accept any Palestinian – Israeli ‘peace agreement’, despite how much it favors Israel and penalizes Palestine. Within Saudi Arabia, a clear alliance by the government with Israel, without a resolution of the Palestinian issue, would be seen as a major betrayal. And as little as the leaders of the Saudi kingdom care about their own people, they are not willing, at this point, at least, to risk a major uprising, the brutal and bloody defeat of which would be broadcast, if not through the news media, at least through social media, around the world. Those leaders could hardly then convince anyone that they need to ally with Israel to protect their people.

The U.S. has never been an honest broker between Palestine and Israel; it has always overwhelmingly favored the Zionist entity. President Donald Trump has promised to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move almost universally opposed by the international community. Thus far, he has refrained from doing so.

But he recently signed the largest weapons deal in history with Saudi Arabia; he refused to acknowledge that Iran is in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which all other signatories have done. He and his spokespeople have endorsed ‘regime change’ in Iran, while the U.S. has full diplomatic relations with the barbaric regimes of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Peace could be achieved in the Middle East by adherence to international law; that’s all it takes. But with the involvement of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, who believe that such law does not apply to them, and the United States, which has always believed that it could create its own rules, and force others to comply while the U.S. itself ignores them at will, seeking resolution by a voluntary adherence to international law is naïve. However, with Iran increasing in power and influence across the Middle East, Israel becoming more globally ostracized, and the U.S. government in near-total disarray under the haphazard and confused leadership of Trump, there are some hopeful signs. Saudi Arabia’s potential betrayal of Palestine, and Palestine’s own weak, corrupt government, are impediments to peace and justice, but they are insufficient to prevent it. How and if Saudi Arabia and Israel align in an attempt to thwart Iran remains to be seen. But Iran does not operate in a vacuum; it, too, has powerful allies, not the least of which is Russia. In a contest of either diplomacy or war, between an allied Saudi Arabia and Israel on one side, and an allied Iran and Russia on the other, the smart betting would be on the latter.

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Failed to Divide Syria, U.S. Plans to Decentralize the Country

One can be excused for being confused about the convoluted foreign policy of the United States. Things are bad enough when there is a reasonably sane, Apartheid Israel war-monger in the White House, but with the irrational Donald Trump as president, any semblance of logic and reason is absent.

This is no clearer than with the recent and current situation in Raqqa, Syria. For years, since the U.S. began arming and training terrorist rebels to attempt to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Basher al-Assad, Raqqa was a stronghold for ISIS. In a very bizarre twist of fate, once the U.S. decided that it had lost control of the narrative, and ISIS was not serving its U.S.-created purpose, it decided to attempt to drive ISIS out of Raqqa. In doing so, it was on the same side as Iran, which, allied with Syria, was attempting to help the Syrian people, and to bolster and strengthen the Syrian government.

Now, with ISIS on the run and Raqqa liberated,  Raqqa, according to news reports, is to be a quasi-independent part of Syria, autonomous, but still bearing the name of Syria. This is the decree of the U.S.-backed militia that was part of liberating Raqqa from the U.S.-backed ISIS. If one is not confused yet, please read on.

Recently Kurdistan, which is a province of Iraq, held a referendum in which the people of Kurdistan voted to secede from Iraq. The U.S. had difficulty either supporting or opposing this move, since it ostensibly supports a unified Iraq, but has long had positive relations with Kurdistan.  Apartheid Israel strongly supported this move, since Iran, one of Apartheid Israel’s many and varied ‘existential threats’, is growing in power and influence in the Middle East, and an independent Kurdistan, backed by the U.S. and Apartheid Israel, would block unimpeded Iranian geographic access to region. Add a semi-autonomous Raqqa, and the firewall that Apartheid Israel so desperately wants would be strengthened.

Unfortunately for the apartheid Zionist regime, gaining this firewall may not be quite as easy as a referendum, and the proclamation of a ragtag U.S. militia group. There are a few other major considerations in the mix.

  • The government of Iraq is not willing to see its country partitioned. Discussion of dividing Iraq into its component pieces, thus strengthening Apartheid Israel, was discussed as far back as the U.S. invasion and occupation, but it doesn’t have much popularity outside of the twisted minds of U.S. and Apartheid Israel leadership. Surely, even government officials in those two violent, war-mongering nations would need to get some agreement from Iraq to end the millennia-old nation. That such agreement will not be forthcoming is a foregone conclusion.
  • The same is true in Syria. After years of U.S., United Kingdom and Apartheid Israeli interference in the form of arming, training and financing terrorists, victory for the Syrian government is all but assured. Bashar Al-Assad will not take kindly to efforts by the United States, which killed at least half a million of his country’s citizens, who never did the U.S. any harm, to divide his country. And Syria is allied with Iran which, despite strenuous efforts by the U.S., remains a force to be reckoned with by itself alone, but is even more powerful due to its alliance with Russia. And Russian assistance to Syria can’t be discounted, as Russia worked with the Syrian and Iranian forces to end the U.S.-backed rebellion.

It is disturbing to see what ends the U.S. will go to in order to do the bidding of Apartheid Israel. One would think that the U.S. would be far better served to establish diplomatic ties with Iran, and cease its futile attempts to block its influence. Iran has not invaded another nation since 1798: yes, that is 219 years ago. Just since the end of World War II, the U.S. has invaded and/or otherwise destabilized at least 33 nations.  These include Angola, Argentina, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tibet, Turkey, Venezuela and Vietnam. Some of these countries have been invaded by the U.S. more than once in that time.

And now, the U.S. wants to divide up Syria, so Apartheid Israel can be protected from Iran. This simply isn’t going to happen, any more than the independence of Kurdistan will happen, regardless of any referendum.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘decertifying’ Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) must be seen as part of the plan to protect Apartheid Israel from its many enemies. But why should the U.S. care about Israel’s future? That rogue nation has a dismal human rights record, is in violation of several international laws, and has been censured by the United Nations more often than all other countries combined. Why does the U.S. not only protect and finance the criminal Zionist entity, but also wages wars at its behest?

This is only explained by the corruption of the U.S. government, which allows campaign contributions from any special interest group with a cheque book, and pro-Apartheid Israeli lobbies have very generous donors for those in Congress who will do their bidding. In exchange for millions of dollars in campaign contributions from Apartheid Israel lobbies, Congress members are willing to ignore the human rights aspirations of the oppressed Palestinians, and look the other way at Apartheid Israel violations of international law.

To summarize: Syria is now mainly rid of foreign-backed terrorists, and the U.S. is deciding that that nation will be ‘decentralized’. Iraq, finally beginning to achieve some level of stability following the criminal U.S. invasion of 2003, is also to be divided, both measures supported to please the Zionist regime. Opposition by Syria and Iraq, with support from Iran and Russia, doesn’t seem to enter into the U.S. foreign policy equation.

The U.S. is risking a major war that will cause the deaths of millions of people, and which it cannot win, simply because lobby groups that own the U.S. Congress demand it.

Toward the end of the presidential administration of Richard Nixon (in office from 1969 – 1974), his closest advisors instructed the military not to respond to his orders. More sensible people than the increasingly irrational Nixon recognized that some of his decrees risked the end of civilization. Trump and his puppet-master, the brutal Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are playing the same game, with stakes just as high. One clings to a faint hope that there are those in the White House inner circle who recognize the folly of current foreign policies in the Middle East, and will instruct the military as Nixon’s inner circle did. It is not much on which to pin the hopes of the continuation of civilization, but it is all we have.

 

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Double Standards in United States’ Human Rights Practices

Remarks delivered at the conference, ‘United States, Human Rights and Discourse of Domination’, held in Tehran, Iran on July 2.

 

When discussing human rights, it’s helpful to define exactly what is meant. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948.  Forty-eight countries, including the United States, ratified this declaration. It details fundamental human rights that are to be universally protected.

The document consists of thirty (30) articles, and is worth reading. For our purposes today, I will summarize just a few of the more common rights listed, and will address these and others during my presentation today.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone is entitled to:

  • Freedom and dignity
  • Life, liberty and security of person.

The following are prohibited.

  • Slavery in all forms.
  • Arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Arbitrary deprivation of one’s nationality
  • Arbitrary deprivation of one’s property.

The United States presents itself to the world as a beacon of liberty and a proponent of human rights around the world, ready and willing to stand up for and defend the downtrodden. Florida Senator Marco Rubio recently said that the world looks to the U.S. as an example of democracy. This myth is not believed outside of the United States’ borders, and decreasingly within. There is simply too much evidence to the contrary.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights mentions the prohibition of ‘torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments’ and states that everyone is entitled to life.

In 2014, the U.S. government rightly condemned beheadings carried out by Daesh (aka ISIL, ISIS). In August of 2014, at least 22 people were executed in Saudi Arabia, and at least eight of them were beheaded. The following month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Saudi Arabia on an official visit; the U.S., of course, has full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. The topic of beheadings was not known to have been mentioned during Mr. Kerry’s visit. Apparently, beheading is acceptable, depending on who is doing it.

Let’s remember that the United States has full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. In a State Department cable released by WikiLeaks, Hillary Clinton said that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban”.

Since I’ve mentioned ISIS, we’ll look at bit closer at that organization.

The following was reported by Global Research:

“In order to understand why the Islamic State has grown and flourished so quickly, one has to take a look at the organization’s American-backed roots. The 2003 American invasion and occupation of Iraq created the pre-conditions for radical Sunni groups, like ISIS, to take root. America, rather unwisely, destroyed Saddam Hussein’s secular state machinery and replaced it with a predominantly Shiite administration. The U.S. occupation caused vast unemployment in Sunni areas, by rejecting socialism and closing down factories in the naive hope that the magical hand of the free market would create jobs. Under the new U.S.-backed Shiite regime, working class Sunni’s lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Unlike the white Afrikaners in South Africa, who were allowed to keep their wealth after regime change, upper class Sunni’s were systematically dispossessed of their assets and lost their political influence. Rather than promoting religious integration and unity, American policy in Iraq exacerbated sectarian divisions and created a fertile breeding ground for Sunni discontent, from which Al Qaeda in Iraq took root.”

Author and Middle East expert Kevin Barrett told Press TV the following:

“It has been a standard part of American policy and it is not just al-Qaeda and Daesh. These are the biggest and most spectacular current manifestations of the United States long-standing policy of supporting terrorists but it goes way back to the era of the Cold War.”

He further stated that the United States created the Daesh terrorist group in order to implement its regime change policy in Syria, and to divide and conquer the Middle East by stirring up ethnic and sectarian tensions.

In a June, 2015 column in The Guardian, Associate Editor Seumas Milne said this:

“[T]he U.S. and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of ‘Islamic state’ — despite the ‘grave danger’ to Iraq’s unity — as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.”

Garikai Chengu, a researcher at Harvard University, suggested in September of 2014 that ISIS “is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region.”

Further information came from Vice-President Joe Biden. Speaking to students at Harvard University in October 2014, he said that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates “were determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war. What did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world”. The vice-president dismissed the idea that any moderate Syrian groups could be fighting ISIS and Assad at the same time.

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has focused in on the government’s funding of terrorists. “The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.”

She went on to say this: “This madness must end. We must stop arming terrorists.”

In late 2015, Ms. Gabbard visited Syria. She said this:

As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.”

Not all of ISIS’s weaponry was intentionally provided to it.

In Iraq, after the first phase of the U.S. war there, the U.S. left untold amounts of weaponry scattered about Iraq. As Iraq descended into the chaos and violence of civil war, that weaponry fell into the hands of anyone who wanted it.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense, which really has nothing to do with defense, issued a press release, saying this: “The three strikes destroyed three ISIL armed vehicles, an ISIL vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft artillery gun, an ISIL checkpoint and an IED emplacement.” Very impressive, one might think.

However, Alex Kane, writing in Alternet, presented a different view. He said:

 “What went unmentioned by the Pentagon is that those armed vehicles and artillery guns they bombed were likely paid for with American tax dollars. The arms ISIS possesses are another grim form of blowback from the American invasion of the country (Iraq) in 2003.

In the first 13 years of the U.S.s’ so-called ‘war on terror’, U.S. taxpayers spent close to $14  million dollars every hour. This is an astounding amount for a war wherein the ‘enemy’ is being financed by the U.S. and other countries with which the U.S. has full diplomatic relations. Perhaps ‘victory’ isn’t the goal. The U.S. is the world’s largest supplier of weaponry, and with so many countries purchasing its goods, even to sell them to international terrorist groups, perhaps the U.S. isn’t interested in losing this lucrative market.

In March of 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported: “Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border.” Again, as long as U.S. arms manufacturers are happy, what else matters? So what if a third of Syrians have had to flee their homes? What difference do nearly half a million deaths of innocent people make? For the U.S., human rights must not stand in the way of profits.

That same year, foreign military sales rose to a record high of $46.6 billion.

It is no exaggeration to say that America’s Middle East policy revolves around two factors: oil and Israel. By invading Iraq, the U.S. was able to obtain the oil it covets.

But as the U.S. continues bombing Syria and supporting terrorist groups in that country, and sanctions or threatens to sanction Iran, we clearly see that it is doing so for Israel. The U.S. wants to prevent Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Palestine, from receiving support from Iran and Syria.  In the eyes of the U.S., only Israel can be a powerful force in the Middle East.

Another point in the Declaration of Human Rights is that ‘the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government’.

Currently in the U.S., multiple investigations are ongoing to explore possible Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election of 2016. Arizona Senator John McCain said that such possible interference threatens the very essence of U.S. democracy. Former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said it’s almost unthinkable, when discussing reports about possible Russian interference in U.S. elections.

In typical U.S. style, interference in foreign elections is only acceptable when the U.S. does it. In 2006, when commenting on the election in the Gaza Strip that brought Hamas to power, Mrs. Clinton, then a U.S. senator, said this: “I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake — and if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.” So while Mrs. Clinton is now filled with great anger that Russia, perhaps, attempted to interfere in the U.S. election, she was certainly not above supporting the same behaviors, when she was a U.S. senator.

After Hamas was elected to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006, and President George Bush ordered a near-total ban on aid to Palestine, historian and political activist Noam Chomsky commented on this situation:

“You are not allowed to vote the wrong way in a free election. That’s our concept of democracy. Democracy is fine as long as you do what we [the United States] say, but not if you vote for someone we don’t like.”

In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq. This was, ostensibly, to rid that country of so-called weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein, then the leader of Iraq, had welcomed Hans Blix, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into Iraq to search peacefully for such weapons. Mr. Blix and his team were gaining unprecedented access to any area of the country they requested, and were finding nothing. Finally, before they had exhausted their search, U.S. President George Bush told Mr. Blix to remove his team from Iraq; his invasion as coming. Shortly thereafter, he began bombing Iraq. This resulted in the destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure, the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children, and the displacement of millions more. The human rights of these innocent victims were not considered by the mighty United States. The fact that the Iraqi people have suffered, and continue to suffer, far more since the U.S. invasion then they did under the previous government, is not considered, as the U.S. looks for its next target.

In October of 2007, four years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and while that war was still raging, Turkey was having difficulties with Kurdish rebels on its border with Iraq. There were signs that the Turkish government was considering an attack against them in Iraq. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack made this statement at that time: “If they have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it and I am not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go, the way to resolve the issue.” He further stated: “We have counseled both in public and private for many, many months the idea that it is important to work cooperatively to resolve this issue”.

If Mr. McCormack wasn’t sure that unilateral incursions were inappropriate, and that nations in conflict need to work cooperatively to resolve their issues, perhaps he could have so advised Mr. Bush.  However, such counsel would nullify that time-honored maxim: “It’s not wrong if the U.S. does it.” So while Turkey must not venture into Iraq to end Kurdish incursions into the country, the U.S. was then, and is now, free to attack any country it so chooses.

Perhaps we might benefit by looking at the by looking at how some words. During the height of the U.S. war against Iraq, the U.S. government officials and corporate-owned media called those Iraqis fighting the U.S. invasion ‘insurgents’. Somehow, in the view of the U.S., the invading soldiers were the ‘heroes’ and the people resisting them were the ‘terrorists’.

When a person or group commits an act of violence against the U.S., they are not seen as heroes, but as terrorists. The victims of those limited acts of violence are seen as heroes.

In 2015, the movie American Sniper was released in U.S. theatres to rave reviews and public acclaim. This was the story of Chris Kyle, a mass murderer, employed by the U.S., who was ‘credited’ with over 160 ‘confirmed kills’.

Imagine if Vietnam, or Palestine, or Iraq, or Yemen, or Syria, or any other country that the U.S. has oppressed or continues to oppress, were to release a movie praising and glorifying someone who killed 160 U.S. citizens, after the U.S. had bombed their country. Government officials would condemn the movie and the country; sanctions would be imposed; there would be universal condemnation throughout the U.S.

Again, in the view of the U.S., its own actions are never criminal, but those same actions, performed by other nations, are international crimes.

The United States government is currently considering declaring Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a ‘terrorist’ organization. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a powerful branch of the Iranian military, responsible for, among other things, protecting the nation in the event of an attack by the U.S. or Israel, the two nations most likely to attack Iran. Protecting the U.S. from attack is, ostensibly, the role of the U.S. military. However, unlike the U.S. military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps does not invade other nations. Its role is to protect the citizens of Iranian from enemies foreign and domestic. The role of the U.S. military, despite the lofty proclamations that country’s leaders may make, is to ensure the capitalist advantage of the U.S. around the world. This includes the overthrow of nations with governments considered too leftist, or those with natural resources (e.g. oil) that the U.S. wants to control. Based on this information, it certainly seems that it is not the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the U.S. military that is, in fact, a terrorist organization.

Keeping in mind that ‘The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government’, we will look at one example, among many, where, in the eyes of the U.S., political expediency trumped human rights.

In Chile, in 1970, Salvador Allende became the first Marxist democratically elected in a Latin American country.

Richard M. Nixon, a rabid anti-communist, was president at this time, and under his direction, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spent $3 million (over $19 million in today’s dollars) in anti-Allende propaganda during the campaign, and invested another $2.6 million (nearly $17 million in today’s dollars) into the campaign of Mr. Allende’s opponent. Please note again the U.S. anger about the possibility of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Once Mr. Allende was elected, the U.S. attempted to prevent him from coming to power.

Yet Mr. Allende became president and began implementing the socialist program he’d promised, including the nationalization of several industries, reforming education, and increasing land distribution that had begun under his predecessor.

But the U.S. could not countenance a Marxist as the president anywhere. The U.S. supported radical, right-wing groups and publications, and funded major workers’ strikes. All this eventually led to the overthrow of the government, and Mr. Allende was replaced by General Augusto Pinochet. With his ascent to power, democratic rule in Chile ended after 41 years, and tens of thousands of Pinochet’s opponents were kidnapped, tortured and murdered. But his rule, in the view of the United States, was preferable to that of Mr. Allende.

In transcribed correspondence between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Mr. Nixon after the overthrow of the Allende government, we read the following:

“Nixon: Nothing new of any importance or is there?

Kissinger: Nothing of great consequence. The Chilean thing is getting consolidated and of course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.

Nixon: Isn’t that something. Isn’t that something.

Kissinger: I mean instead of celebrating – in the Eisenhower period we would be heros.

Nixon: We didn’t – as you know – our hand doesn’t show on this one though.

Kissinger: We didn’t do it. I mean we helped them. ______ created the conditions as great as possible.

Nixon: That is right. And that is the way it is going to be played.”

Millions of people in Chile were deprived of basic human rights for a period of decades, due to the deliberate actions of the United States.

The United States’ double standard on human rights is seen no more clearly, and is no more blatant, then in its dealings with Palestine and Israel.

In the U.S. there is a law referred to as the ‘Leahy law’, so named after its sponsor Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. The basic provision of this law is as follows: “No assistance shall be furnished under this chapter or the Arms Export Control Act [22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.] to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

We will look for a moment at the Human Rights Watch World Report for 2017, and its descriptions of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. This report states that, during 2016, Israel:

  • Enforced severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights, to facilitate the transfer of Israeli civilians to the occupied West Bank, and to severely restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip.
  • Used lethal force against suspected attackers in more than 150 cases, including in circumstances that suggest excessive force and at times extrajudicial executions.
  • Killed at least 94 Palestinians and injured at least 3,203 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel as of October 31, including suspected assailants, protesters, and bystanders, according to the United Nations.
  • Destroyed homes and other property under discriminatory practices that severely restrict Palestinians’ access to construction permits and forcibly displaced, as of October 17, 1,283 Palestinian residents in West Bank areas under direct Israeli administrative control.
  • Maintained severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, exacerbated by Israel’s refusal to allow Gaza to operate an airport or seaport.
  • Continued the closure of the Gaza Strip, restricting movement of people and on outgoing goods, having severe consequences for the civilian population, separating families, restricting access to medical care and educational and economic opportunities, and perpetuating unemployment and poverty.
  • Restricted the delivery of construction materials to Gaza which, along with a lack of funding have impeded reconstruction of the 17,800 housing units severely damaged or destroyed during Israel’s 2014 military operation in Gaza. About 65,000 people who lost their homes remain displaced.
  • In the West Bank, as of October 31, Israeli security forces and settlers fatally shot at least 83 Palestinians and wounded at least 3,015, including passersby, demonstrators and those suspected of attacking Israelis, according to UN monitoring. In some cases, video footage and witness accounts strongly suggest that excessive force was used.

The many ways in which these barbaric practices violate the basic human rights of the Palestinians, as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are obvious.

Despite all this, the United States provides $4 billion annually to Israel. It also consistently uses its veto power on the United Nations Security Council to protect Israel from the international consequences of its cruel and illegal actions.

In 2014, as Israel was bombing the Gaza Strip, U.S. President Barack Obama said that attacks on Israel were ‘inexcusable’. And U.S. officials constantly say Israel has a right to defend itself from Hamas’s rocket attacks.

Let’s talk for a minute about those ‘rockets’ fired by Hamas. Normal Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an ardent advocate for the rights of the Palestinians, calls these ‘rockets’ ‘enhanced fireworks’. They are nothing compared with the deadly, precise weaponry that the U.S. gives to Israel.

Yet these same officials ignore the fact that Israel is in violation of international law in countless ways: displacing Palestinians from their homes; moving its residents permanently onto occupied territory; having separate laws for Israelis and Arabs living in Israel; the existence of Israel-only roads; indefinite detention without charge; the occupation of the West Bank itself, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Additionally, they refuse to recognize the international law that states that an occupied people has the right to resist the occupation by whatever means are available.

Yet the U.S. condemns all Palestinian resistance. 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.”

So in saying that Israel can defend itself against Hamas rockets, but ignoring Palestinians rights to resisting the occupation, the double-standard on human rights is again evident. And it is also worth noting that during 50 days in 2014, Israel fired more rockets into the Gaza Strip, than Hamas had fired into Israel in the previous 14 years.

And can the U.S. reasonably question whether or not Israel is in violation of international law? Section 3 of the Leahy Law states the following:

“In furtherance of paragraphs (1) and (2), the President is directed to formulate and conduct international security assistance programs of the United States in a manner which will promote and advance human rights and avoid identification of the United States, through such programs, with governments which deny to their people internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, in violation of international law or in contravention of the policy of the United States as expressed in this section or otherwise.”

There is one phrase in that paragraph that stand out: “avoid identification of the United States with governments which deny internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.’ The U.S. is closely identified with rogue, brutal, apartheid regime of Israel.

Let’s look at some of the things the U.S. chooses to overlook. In 2014, Israel bombed United Nations refugee centers in Gaza. It also targeted residences, mosques, press vehicles and hospitals. All these crimes are violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The U.S. may, somehow, be able to ignore many of these incidents, but the bombing of U.N. refugee  centers cannot be ignored; Israel was notified at least ten times that these centers were holding unarmed citizens. The U.S. offered some tepid criticism of Israel at that time, but didn’t reduce by one cent the billions of dollars it provides to that rogue nation.

The killing of four children playing on a Gaza beach was widely witnessed by the international press, but Israel ‘investigated’, and found the soldiers who shot those children were in no way culpable. So foreign aid from the U.S. to Israel continues to flow.

Let’s turn now to the United States’ foreign military bases.

The U.S. uses military bases around the world to control and dominate most of the planet. The United States has at least 800 military basis in 70 countries, housing hundreds of thousands of military personnel. This is far more than any other nation today or at any time in history. Of all the foreign military bases of all countries, about 95% of them are owned by the U.S.

Ostensibly, these bases exist to enable the U.S. to deploy thousands of soldiers anywhere in the world where they are ‘needed’, ‘needed’ being defined by U.S. corporate interests, of the interests of powerful lobby groups, such as AIPAC, although as activist David Swanson has said, with current technology, proximity isn’t important; soldiers and weapons can reach anywhere in the world just as quickly from the United States. These bases provide no benefit to the U.S. economy, or to the host country, whose citizens often resent the presence of a U.S. military base on land that could be used for farming, industry or housing. The advantages accrue only to certain contractors, and the politicians to whom they generously donate.

One foreign U.S. military installation is worth some discussion in this forum.

Guantanamo Bay is the Cuban location of one of the U.S.’s most barbaric and notorious torture chambers. The case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, is instructive.

Mr. Khadr was 15 years old when he was seriously injured in Afghanistan, and arrested by United States’ soldiers, and charged, on very flimsy evidence, with throwing a hand grenade that killed a U.S. soldier. It must be remembered that international law categorizes any ‘soldier’ under the age of 18 as a ‘child soldier’, who cannot be charged with a war-related crime. However, international law is not something that the mighty U.S. feels any obligation to follow.

When captured, Mr. Khadr sustained extremely serious injuries, including two gunshot wounds in his chest, multiple broken bones, and shrapnel splattered all over his body, costing him the sight in one eye. Yet his immediate medical treatment was lacking.

About a week after his capture, he regained consciousness and was detained at the Bagram air base. There, he was tortured. This torture included the following:

* Being tied to a fence with his hands tied high above his head; due to his injuries, raising his hands at all was extremely painful;

* Being tied up with a bag secured tightly around his head, making breathing difficult, as attack dogs snarled and growled at him from inches away;

* Having cold water thrown over him;

* Forcing him, despite, or perhaps because of, his injuries, to pile heavy water bottles together. Once he finished the task, his torturers knocked over the pile, and forced him to re-pile them. Please remember, he was 15 years old.

After this, he was transferred to Guantanamo, where the torture continued.

One such method is referred to as ‘the mop incident’. It is documented as follows:  Guards “pulled his arms and legs behind in a ‘bow’ position, until his limbs strained painfully at their sockets. This was known in the officially-sanctioned American torture guides as a ‘stress position,’ and victims often pass out from the pain. Over several hours, the guards contorted Mr. Khadr into different stress positions, each time shoving him into a painful position on the ground. Eventually, inevitably, he urinated himself. MPs returned, mocked him for a while and then poured pine-oil solvent all over his body. Without altering his chains, they began dragging him by his feet through the mixture of urine and pine oil. Because his body had been so tightened, the new motion was extremely painful. The MPs swung him around and around, the urine and solvent washing up into his face. The idea was to use him as a human mop. After this, the MPs uncuffed him and carried him back to his cell. He was not allowed a change of clothes for two days.”

He was only 15 years old; even one of the torturers at Bagram, Damien M. Corsetti, known as the ‘Monster’ and the ‘King of Torture’, later said this of Mr. Khadr. “He was a 15-year-old kid with three holes in his body, a bunch of shrapnel in his face. That was what I remember. How horrible this 15-year-old child looked.” Further, he described Mr. Khadr as an injured “child” detained in “one of the worst places on Earth.”

Yet the U.S. government saw him differently. Initial requests for information about Mr. Khadr’s incarceration, from the Director General of the Canadian Consular Affairs office, were ignored. In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powel, a representative of the Consular Affairs office asked if Mr. Khadr was being well-treated; if he would have proper legal representation; if his status as a minor, as covered by the international conventions dealing with youths, was recognized, and when Canadian officials would be able to meet with him. Mr. Powell’s response was that Mr. Khadr had killed a ‘fine young American’ and would be treated by what passes in the U.S. for a justice system. Apparently, Mr. Powell had determined that, without official charge or trial, Mr. Khadr was guilty, and the U.S. ‘justice system’ would now administer the penalty in one of its foreign torture chambers.

Mr. Khadr was held at Guantanamo for ten years, during which he sustained ongoing torture and eventually, under extreme duress, confessed to several crimes. His incarceration and treatment were widely condemned around the world and by the United Nations.

In 2012, he was transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of an eight-year sentence, and was released on bail in 2015. The Canadian government, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, appealed this court decision. The appeal was dropped when the new government of Liberal Justin Trudeau came into power.

This is just one example of how the United States simply tramples the basic human rights of people it deems unworthy of them.

Domestically, the U.S. is no more straightforward or honest in its dealings with human rights than it is on the international stage.

Going back to 1999, Amadou Diallo, age 23, was shot 41 times in 1999, after reaching for his wallet to provide police officers with his identification. An investigation by the New York City police department after the death of Mr. Diallo found that the officers acted ‘within policy’.  Four officers were charged with second-degree murder and reckless endangerment, but all four were acquitted.

Since then, the murders of people of African descent by white police officers have become almost epidemic, with the offending officers seldom, if ever charged. And these shootings seem to be routine procedure.

The Black Lives Matter movement grew out of the almost weekly shootings of unarmed men, women and children of African descent, usually by white police officers, almost always with complete impunity. But the crimes of the police go beyond race, to an atmosphere of exemption from consequences for almost any crime.

Just last week, two police officers were acquitted of all charges in the deaths of two, Black men. This is not unusual; it is rare for a police officer to be charged in the death of a man or woman of African descent, and convictions almost never occur. The trial of a third officer ended in a mistrial, for the second time.

Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of killing Philando Castile, age 32, in Minnesota. Mr. Castile’s crime was having a bulb burned out in the taillight of his car. When stopped, he told the policeman that he was carrying a gun, for which he was licensed. It seems unlikely that someone intending to shoot a policeman would first announce that he was armed. Nevertheless, he was shot seven times, just moments after he was stopped by the police.

Also acquitted last week was Dominque Heagan-Brown, also an African-American, found not guilty in the death of Slyville Smith, age 23, in Wisconsin, despite a damning video taken by another office that the jury saw. In it, Heaggan-Brown shot Mr. Smith in the chest, after the victim had thrown his weapon over a fence, and had his hand raised. He was on the ground when he was fatally shot. Beyond racism, this indicates a separate set of rules for the U.S. police.

In Ohio, the trial of Officer Ray Tensing ended in a mistrial for the second time, in the killing of Samuel Dubose, who was stopped because his car lacked a front license plate. Things escalated quickly until the unarmed Mr. Dubose was shot in the head while still sitting in his car.

Michael Brown, age 18, was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, for allegedly robbing a convenience store, although he was unarmed. His body lay in the street for four hours, until police allowed it to be moved.

Eric Garner, 44-years old and the father of six children, was strangled by New York City police for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally.

Tamir Rice, age 12, was shot and killed for carrying a toy gun. Within two seconds of arriving on police arriving on the scene, the child had been shot in the chest, twice. There was no demand to drop the ‘gun’, just the shooting. The policeman who shot him was not charged with any crime.

In one incident that wasn’t fatal, 47-year-old Charles Kinsey, a social worker of African descent, was trying to bring a severely autistic man with whom he worked back into the residential facility. Police were called to the scene, and ordered Mr. Kinsey and his client to lie on the ground. Mr, Kinsey did so, although his client, sitting cross-legged and playing with a toy truck, refused. Mr. Kinsey addressed the police: “Sir, there is no need for firearms. I’m unarmed, he’s an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand.”  One of the officers then fired three shots, hitting Mr. Kinsey in the leg. When Mr. Kinsey asked the officer why he had shot him, the officer responded “I don’t know.” He then handcuffed Mr. Kinsey, and rendered no first aid for 20 minutes. The officer, Jonathan Aledda, is on paid leave as this incident is investigated.

The belief has become common in the United States that if a man of African descent commits a crime, he is a thug, a criminal. If a Muslim man commits a crime, he is a terrorist. But if a man of European descent commits a crime, he is emotionally troubled, and requires assistance to help him regain his rightful place as a productive member of society.

In the U.S., over half a million people are homeless every day of the year, sleeping in shelters or on the street; of these, about 8% are veterans, men and women who have done the U.S. military’s dirty work around the world, and now, troubled by guilt resulting in substance abuse, domestic violence, inability to keep a job and other problems, the government simply dismisses them to live on the streets.

One of the basic human rights described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a “Standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family”.

The official poverty level in the U.S. is ridiculously low: for a family of four, a family income below $24,600 annually is considered ‘poverty’.  A report from the Economic Policy Institute from August of 2015 indicates the following:

“The basic family budget for a two-parent, two-child family ranges from $49,114 (Morristown, Tenn.) to $106,493 (Washington, D.C.). In the median family budget area for this family type, Des Moines, Iowa, a two-parent, two-child family needs $63,741 to secure an adequate but modest living standard. This is well above the 2014 poverty threshold of $24,008 for this family type.”

Based on this report, a more realistic poverty line would be $49,000.00.

Determining a poverty level of $24,600 may reduce the number of people that U.S. statistics say live in poverty, but it doesn’t hide the fact that millions more are actually living in poverty.

One of the many myths that the U.S. perpetuates about itself to its citizens is the concept of ‘U.S. exceptionalism’. This is the belief that the United States has a unique mission to order the world to its concept of freedom and democracy. It also includes a sense of superiority over all other nations.

In 2014, President Barack Obama said “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”

Some more quotes on this bizarre topic: Texas Senator Ted Cruz said this: “And it was American exceptionalism that stood up to the Soviet Union and freed hundreds of millions from behind the Iron Curtin.” He proved once again that he has no concept of history, as when, while bowing at the unholy AIPAC altar, he proclaimed that the nation of Palestine didn’t exist.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, when campaigning for the presidential nomination in 2015, made this peculiar statement: “We are the greatest nation in the history of all mankind. Never be afraid to teach that to your children…. Our kids need to know the truth — that they were born citizens of the single greatest nation in the history of all of mankind.”

When South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham was campaigning for the Republican nomination for president, a press release from his office said this: “Now he is ready to take those leadership skills to the White House, to restore faith in America’s exceptionalism, and our belief that the United States is still the leader… and best hope… for a free and safe world.”

This dangerous concept probably had its origins in an equally ugly and destructive concept, that of Manifest Destiny. . The term is believed to have been coined by John O’Sullivan, the cofounder and editor of The United States Magazine and Democratic Review in 1845.The term signified “…the mission of the United States ‘to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.’” Mr. O’Sullivan further told his readers: “Until every acre of the North American continent is occupied by citizens of the United States, the foundation of the future empire will not have been laid.” Manifest Destiny became a catchphrase for what many considered to be a divinely-authorized continental expansion.

It is easy to see how that sense of superiority that belief that the United States was destined by Deity to occupy the entire North American continent, would evolve into today’s idea of exceptionalism. And it must be remembered that the U.S. stole large parts of Mexico, and invaded Canada in 1812, with the hope of conquering it and making it part of the U.S.

So a nation whose citizens feel it is divinely authorized to control the entire planet will naturally have no allegiance to international law; such laws are for other countries, not the mighty United States.

This is the United States, that self-proclaimed beacon of peace and justice. This is international hypocrisy at its most blatant and deadly. People within the U.S. and without are working tirelessly to resolve these issues, but they are opposed by powerful interest groups. Yet such shocking cruelty and violations of international law and the human rights of millions of innocent people cannot continue forever. The end of the injustices perpetrated by the United States will be a welcome day around the world.

Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.

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Trump, Palestine and ‘The Deal’

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

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

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

So on this bloody ethnic cleansing, Israel was born.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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Tulsi Gabbard: the New Democratic ‘Savior’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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