Monthly Archives: May 2017

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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Trump, Salman and Netanyahu: The Match Made in Hell

As United States President Donald Trump struts his limited stuff across the international stage, his ‘accomplishments’ during this tour will benefit no one but the wealthy elites at home and abroad.

Let us look first at his time in Saudi Arabia, and what that means for the U.S. and the Middle East.

The reality-tv-star-turned-president signed a $100 million dollar weapons deal with the Saudi kingdom. If anyone in power in the U.S. would like to look closely at this, he/she would find that this deal is, in all likelihood, illegal. It seems that Mr. Trump and Congress should be reminded of the U.S. law referred to as the Leahy law; it is described thusly:

The “Leahy law vetting is a process through which the U.S. government vets U.S. assistance to foreign security forces, as well as Department of Defense training programs, to ensure that recipients have not committed gross human rights abuses.  When the vetting process uncovers credible evidence that an individual or unit has committed a gross violation of human rights, U.S. assistance is withheld, consistent with U.S. law and policy.  This obligation to vet foreign security forces can be found in section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA).”

So, based on Mr. Trump’s action, one would think that Saudi Arabia does not commit “gross human rights abuses”. A look at a report from Human Rights Watch about Saudi Arabia is instructive:

“Through 2016 the Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued an aerial campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen that included numerous unlawful airstrikes that killed and injured thousands of civilians. Saudi authorities also continued their arbitrary arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents. Dozens of human rights defenders and activists continued to serve long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms. Authorities continued to discriminate against women and religious minorities.”

Well, what’s a little crime against humanity when $100 million is on the table? And what a benefit to those holding stock in the so-called U.S. ‘defense’ industry! A report in Moneywatch from May 22 of this year is headlined: ‘U.S. Defense Stocks Jump on Saudi Arms Deal’. The article is very clear: “Investors hailed President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia by boosting the share prices of major U.S. defense contractors. Their stocks advanced on Monday in the wake of announcements of arms sales to the kingdom that could be worth $109 billion over the next decade, one of the largest-ever deals of its kind.”

The article continues with rather puzzling information: “The Saudi Arabian deal could lead to additional sales for both Israel and the Persian Gulf countries, all of which are concerned with Iran’s aggressive foreign policy and its support for terrorist groups in the region.”

Now, this simple statement requires further study. We will break it down to its component parts and attempt to make sense of it.

  • The deal could lead to additional sales for Israel.

Once again, perhaps we could consider the Leahy Law, referenced above, and see just what Human Rights Watch has to say about Israel: “Israel continued in 2016 to enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights, to facilitate the transfer of Israeli civilians to the occupied West Bank, and to severely restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip.” There is more, but for our purposes today, this will suffice.

  • Israel and surrounding countries, according to the Moneywatch article, “are concerned with Iran’s aggressive foreign policy and its support for terrorist groups in the region.”

If we are to talk about ‘aggressive foreign policy’, perhaps we should point out that the U.S. is currently bombing six countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. Its minions are causing tremendous unrest and suffering in Venezuela. It might also be worth noting that, since World War II, the United States has either invaded or intentionally destabilized at least thirty-three (33) countries, including Angola, Argentina, Bosnia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tibet, Turkey and Vietnam. Some of these countries have been invaded by the U.S. more than once in that time. This doesn’t include Palestine, which the U.S. has only bombed by proxy, by giving Israel the weaponry and the permission (cover at the United Nations) to bomb that country.

We should also not forget that the U.S. is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, bombing two, heavily-populated cities in Japan that had no military importance. Hundreds of thousands died, some instantly, and other later, as a result of the horrific injuries they suffered.

And as far as support for terrorist groups is concerned, the U.S. military can be seen as the biggest, most powerful and most dangerous terrorist group in the world. And there is ample evidence to suggest that the U.S. initiated ISIS, and supports groups that actually fight each other.

We would look at the list of countries that Iran has invaded since World War II, but there are none to see. So any ‘fear’ of Iran’s ‘aggressive foreign policy’ is being invented by the U.S. to sell weaponry, and to help Israel maintain military superiority in the Middle East.

 

We will now turn to Israel, and the president’s short visit there. Certainly, there can be no doubt that Mr. Trump is an adoring Zionist, willing to kiss the feet of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. He has proclaimed that he can make a ‘deal’, settling the ‘conflict’ between Israel and Palestine. He never refers to ‘occupation’, ‘human rights’ or ‘international law’ in the context of this ‘conflict’.

But, significantly, prior to his visit, he back-tracked on one of his main Zionist promises, the vow to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This may be because the only other nation on the planet that supports such a move is Israel, and it is vehemently opposed by everyone else. It appears that even the immature, narcissist Mr. Trump can be prevailed upon when the opposition is strong enough.

Nothing of any significance was done in Israel, either helpful or detrimental to Palestinians. What Mr. Trump may have said to the Israeli Prime Murderer, about compromising Israeli intelligence during his meetings with Russian diplomats, is unknown, although he has denied ever having done any such thing. The confusion by his staff over where the Western Wall is located, Israel or Palestine (it’s in Palestine), did not sit particularly well with his apartheid hosts. And his sunny optimism about brokering a deal was generally dismissed as the nonsense that it is.

If Mr. Trump has any thoughts in his rather limited brain, he must realize that the controversies he left behind in Washington, D.C. will still be there when he returns. He will dismiss them, no doubt, and talk about his successful visits to the Middle East and the Vatican (heaven only knows what he and the most progressive pope in centuries will have to talk about).

To summarize: one of the world’s most egregious  violators of human rights has struck an historic weapons deal with another one, the U.S.; no discussion of those human rights abuses is known to have occurred. Israel hosted the U.S. president, but nothing of substance, other than a strengthening of the ‘special relationship’ the U.S. has with that apartheid nation, was accomplished. And next stop is with a religious leader who has condemned war and capitalism, two of Mr. Trump’s disreputable gods.

Much as one would like to see Mr. Trump leave office, the thought of his vice-president, the Zionist, Christian-right conservative MikePence taking the reins, is, perhaps, even more frightening.

What happens next in foreign or domestic policy remains to be seen, but the indications are not favorable for any but the ruling elite.

Originally published in The American Herald Tribune.

 

 

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Israel will Continue Occupying Palestine, Trump Made Abbas Sure

On May 3, Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli-U.S. puppet who is the figurehead leader of the Palestinian Authority, met with his secondary puppet-master, U.S. President Donald Trump. What he promised in exchange for nothing is yet to be seen. At present he is working to undermine Hamas, the elected government of the Gaza Strip. He has refused to allow the construction of a desperately-needed power plant that even apartheid Israel approved, and is paying government employees in the Gaza Strip not to go to work, in an effort to cause dissatisfaction with Hamas. This is typical U.S. methodology: stir up trouble and discontent in the populace, and assist in the eventual overthrow of the government. The U.S. has done this successfully, with tragic consequences in terms of human life and violations of human rights, countless times.

One of the things Mr. Abbas seeks to accomplish is the disarmament of the Gaza Strip. The West Bank is basically without weapons, and the death toll of defenseless Palestinians there is constantly increasing. This isn’t surprising since it is occupied by the heavily-armed IDF (Israel Defense Forces) terrorists and settler-terrorists, who believe that Palestinians are not human, and should have no rights whatsoever. And this is the vision Mr. Abbas seems to have for the Gaza Strip.

Congress has also set its sights on Palestine, with pending legislation to deny, as usual, the $300 million that it annually budgets for that nation. Congress wants to assure that none of it goes to the families of Palestinians who kill Israelis.

Now, let’s look at this for just a moment. The U.S. gives Israel $4 billion a year, more than thirteen times the amount it budgets for, but usually doesn’t give, to Palestine.  And it is committed to that $4 billion for the next ten years. With much of it, Israel purchases, often from the U.S., the most advanced weaponry on the planet. It periodically tests that weaponry on Palestinians. And it doesn’t hesitate to use chemical weapons.

That money also goes to provide trucks which spray raw sewerage on homes and schools in the West Bank. It funds IDF terrorists breaking into the homes of Palestinians at all hours of the day and night, ransacking them and arresting any and all males over the age of 10.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham is a key sponsor of this bill. The good senator is silent about Israeli atrocities against Palestinians; he says nothing about the blatant, shocking and constant violations of the basic human rights of the Palestinians, and doesn’t seem to care at all about international law, which condemns the occupation, and recognizes Palestine’s and Israel’s borders as those that were mandated by the United Nations in 1948 (the legality of that action is a topic for another essay). One can’t help but wonder if Mr. Graham isn’t just a tad influenced by the $391,200.00 that pro-Israel lobbies contributed to his campaigns between 2010 and 2016. Could he be looking at the situation in Palestine through green-colored glasses?

When Israeli Sergeant Elor Azaria was convicted of murdering a wounded Palestinian, lying immobile on the ground, he received a sentence of 18 months. Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu said he supported a pardon for Mr. Azaria, and surveys indicated that two-thirds of Israelis agreed with him. Yet Palestinian teenagers convicted of throwing stones at IDF terrorists are often sentenced to 15 years in Israeli prisons. Mr. Graham has been silent about this travesty.

One would like to point out, not only to the head-in-the-sand senator from South Carolina, but to the rest of the U.S. so-called governing body, including the illustrious former reality television star who now occupies the White House, that Palestine is occupied by Israel, and according to international law, an occupied people has the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. While U.S. elected officials decry any Palestinian violence, they are silent about Israeli violence. Not satisfied with ignoring international law, and condemning violent measures to achieve justice, they also condemn peaceful ones, with their futile attempt to outlaw the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement.

And into all this comes Mr. Abbas, doing the bidding of his Israeli and U.S. masters, making his photo-op appearance at the White House, where he was lectured by President Donald Trump on the need for civility and, of course, negotiations.

This writer will once again point out the obvious: negotiations can only be successful when each party has something that the other wants, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes whatever it wants from Palestine – land, water, other natural resources – with complete impunity. How can ‘negotiations’ ever be successful when one party gets whatever it wants without them? Yet Congress, and countless presidents, have all encouraged this farce for decades.

Perhaps Mr. Abbas will meet with Vice President Mike Pence, a born-again Christian in the most evangelical of evangelic modes. There he will be lectured on the Christian Right’s bizarre interpretation of the Bible, and will be told that Israel is entitled to Palestine, because ‘God said so’.

This writer is a Christian, involved in the religion he joined decades ago as a young adult. He is well versed in the Bible. He recognizes that that sacred book is not meant to govern nations; if it were, atheists would be stoned along with adulterers (which would result in many vacancies in the halls of Congress, not to mention the White House), slavery would be legal, and all businesses would be closed on Sundays, so those who work in them would be spared execution.

So what will Mr. Abbas accomplish? The same thing he usually does, which is to further the occupation at the expense of the people he supposedly represents. And as he does so, Israel will steal more land, oppress and kill more Palestinians, and work to obliterate that beleaguered nation from existence. The world must not allow it to happen.

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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