Tag Archives: Israel

Tulsi Gabbard: the New Democratic ‘Savior’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Kerry, Netanyahu and the Settlements

Following the recent double-whammy against Israel, the first being the United Nations resolution condemning and demanding a stop to all settlement activity, and the second being United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech slamming Israeli policy, Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu seems beside himself in fury.  Mr. Kerry, he lamented shortly after the secretary’s speech, “obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. He then made this incredible statement: “No one wants peace more than the people of Israel”. Well, there you are.

Has it really come to this? Has reality really disappeared from the international radar? The leader of a wealthy, prominent nation, one that receives more foreign aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined, actually spouts such nonsense, and is not be laughed off the international stage. Well, since Donald Trump is president-elect of the U.S., this writer supposes he has answered his own questions.

Mr. Netanyahu also said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to condemning what he called Palestinian terrorism, and accused the secretary of “attacking the only democracy in the Middle East”.

The speech contained other pearls of twisted wisdom, but time and space prevent a thorough study of each of them. But let’s do our own fact-checking on the few mentioned herein, and see what we might be able to learn.

  • “No one want peace more than the people of Israel”.  Let’s see now. Israelis evict Palestinians from their homes for a variety of reasons: to live in them themselves; to destroy them to make room for Israeli-only ‘communities’ (a new word being bandied about to sanitize illegal settlements); to create roads that non-Israelis can’t even cross over, let alone drive on; to extend the apartheid wall. Israeli settlers commit crimes, including murder, against Palestinians, with nearly complete impunity, often protected by Israeli soldiers, who themselves commit unspeakable crimes against Palestinians, again with nearly complete impunity.

Israelis are free to carry deadly weapons with them wherever they go; non-Israelis are not.

Somehow, this does not sound to this writer to be the actions of people who want peace as badly as the Prime Murderer would have us all believe.

  • Netanyahu said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to Palestinian terrorism. The fact that the secretary said anything about so-called ‘terrorism’ committed by the Palestinians was just an appeasement to Israel. Mr. Kerry should know that, under international law, an occupied people have the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. He should also know that the so-called ‘rockets’ that Hamas occasionally fires into Gaza are, in the words of scholar Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken critic of Israel, nothing more than enhanced fireworks. These ‘rockets’ hardly compare to the deadly weapons the U.S. provides Israel to kill Palestinian men, women and children. And let’s be reminded that, in the summer of 2014, Israel fired more and far more deadly rockets into the Gaza Strip than Hamas had fired into Israel in the previous 14 years.

Mr. Netanyahu seems to have a very unusual definition of terrorism. One wonders if he would consider it terrorism if Palestinian soldiers routinely broke into the homes of Israelis in the middle of the night, ransacked the homes and arrested all the males in them over the age of 10. This writer feels that he would. Yet Israeli soldiers commit these crimes on a daily basis against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Would the Israeli Prime Murderer think it an act of terrorism, if Palestinians drove bulldozers up to the home of an Israeli family, and advised them to leave immediately, because their house was going to be demolished? Israel does this to Palestinians hundreds of times a year.

If Palestinians went to Israeli reservoirs, on which Israeli families relied for drinking water, and contaminated them with dead chickens and human feces, would the Prime Murderer feel that was an act of terrorism? Would he feel so if Palestinians simply destroyed those reservoirs? Israelis do this to Palestinians on a regular basis.

If Palestinians, in specially-equipped trucks, drove to a neighborhood elementary school, and sprayed sewage all over the school, adjacent residential buildings, and any people who couldn’t run out of the way quickly enough, would he object to that as terrorism? Palestinians suffer under this treatment from Israelis.

So, perhaps, in the twisted little mind of Mr. Netanyahu, it is only Israelis who can be victimized; after all, he will readily tell you, remember the Holocaust! Never again! Oh, that means ‘never again’ to Israelis; such crimes against others are just fine.

  • Kerry, according to the Prime Murderer, attacked “the only democracy in the Middle East”. One key element of democracy is this: “Guarantee of basic Human Rights to every individual person vis-à-vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-à-vis any social groups (especially religious institutions) and vis-à-vis other persons.” We have already mentioned roads that only Israelis can drive on. Also, non-Israelis in the judicial system have a separate set of rules. For people living under occupation, this includes arrest without charge; indefinite detention; no access to lawyers or family; lack of medical treatment, among others. Israelis, of course, cannot be arrested without charge, or held indefinitely. They have immediate and unfettered access to lawyers and family, and any medical needs they may have are fulfilled.

Another key element is freedom of speech and press. Israel glories in this freedom, as long as no one says anything critical of the state.

Democracy, indeed!

We have, perhaps, saved the best for last. Mr. Netanyahu said that Mr, Kerry:

  • “Obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. The Prime Murderer sounds like the bratty child in the school yard who, when asked why he struck another child, says “because he hit me back”. Palestine, with no army, navy or air force is occupied and oppressed by one of the most powerful nations in the world, back by the most powerful. Mr. Netanyahu says that Palestine refuses to recognize the Jewish state of Israel (how that concept squares with the idea of democracy has never been adequately explained to this writer), and that is key to the conflict. Yet Israel is slowly, although with increasing speed, annexing all of Palestine, with the ultimate goal of annihilating it, wiping it from existence, and replacing it with Israel.

With the election of the clown-like Mr. Trump as president of the U.S., there will no longer be any pretense that the U.S. is a neutral peace broker in the Middle East. Mr. Trump has said that Israel can build all the settlements it wants, and his political appointees are all in favor of destroying Palestine, as demanded by the wealthy and generous Israeli lobbies, AIPAC (Apartheid Israeli Political Affairs Committee) chief among them. Yet the recent vote in the U.N. Security Council shows international support for Palestine. Perhaps, just perhaps, with Mr. Trump as president, the rest of the world will recognize that it must act for the Palestinian people. Mr. Trump’s election, although an overall disaster for the world, may have a silver lining, if it motivates the global community to act for justice in Palestine.

Originally published on Counterpunch on January 6, 2017

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Palestine, the World, and Resolution 2334

Well, the sturm und drang caused by the passage of United Nations Resolution 2334, condemning Israeli settlements, is like the shot heard ‘round the world. From the apartheid nation of Israel, to the bought-and-paid-for-by-Israeli-lobbies halls of Congress, the cries of ‘foul’ are being heard loudly.  It is, indeed, as Macbeth might have said, much ‘sound and fury’, but it would be a mistake to say it signifies nothing.  However, what is signifies is not exactly what those shouting the loudest intended.

Let us look first at some of the provisions of the resolution. It demands, without any way of mandating adherence, that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”. Further, it states that the establishment of the settlements have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

This is nothing new; all settlement activity outside of the U.N. – decreed 1947 borders have always been considered illegal by the international community. The United States has always vetoed similar resolutions. In 2011, then Ambassador Susan Rice, when vetoing one such resolution, said that ‘…we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace. “ She further stated that the U.S. felt that the U.N. was not the place to resolve these differences, but that that should be accomplished through negotiations.

Such negotiations have been ongoing, off and on, for decades, and all that has been accomplished is the further theft of Palestinian land, mass arrests of Palestinian men, women and children, and the deaths of thousands of Palestinians. Once again, allow this writer to state that negotiations can only occur between two parties, each of which has something the other wants, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Palestine wants a nation of its own, with secure borders. But it has nothing that Israel cannot take from it with complete impunity.

So, the U.N. Security Council, with 14 members voting in favor and the U.S. abstaining, passed this resolution. Israeli Prime Murder Benjamin Netanyahu has reduced ties with most of the nations among those 14 with which Israel has diplomatic relations.  He has harshly criticized the U.S., although this writer has missed any news about refusing a dime of the $4 billion the U.S. gives Israel each year. Mr. Netanyahu looks forward to dealing with an ego as big as his own, when Donald Trump, of all people, becomes president of the United States in a few weeks. We’ll all look forward to seeing how that goes.

Senator Lindsay Graham (R- SC), has demanded the defunding of the United Nations, as a result of this vote. He let loose with these pearls of wisdom: “The Obama-Kerry foreign policy has gone from naïve and foolish to flat-out reckless. With friends like these, Israel doesn’t need any enemies. I anticipate this vote will create a backlash in Congress against the United Nations. The organization is increasingly viewed as anti-Semitic and seems to have lost all sense of proportionality.”

So, in the good senator’s view, endorsing international law and human rights is ‘naïve and foolish and flat-out reckless’. One wonders if his view of the situation might be just a tad distorted by the $516,715 that pro-Israeli lobbies have donated to his campaigns, $101,850 of it this year alone.

But he is not alone in his condemnation. Texas Republican Ted Cruz said this: “These acts are shameful. They are designed to secure a legacy, and indeed they have: history will record and the world will fully understand Obama and Kerry as relentless enemies of Israel.” One really has to wonder why the president would pledge $40 billion dollars to his ‘enemy’ over a ten-year period.

But Mr. Cruz, too, has been the beneficiary of Israel lobby largesse. In 2016, this amounted to a whopping $309,281.  Is it any wonder he is in an uproar about criticism of this golden goose?

It’s not just Republicans who are in such dismay. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer ‘tweeted’ this, following the vote: “Extremely frustrating, disappointing & confounding that the Administration has failed to veto the UN resolution.” Mr. Schumer’s 2016 take from Israeli lobbies was $386,901.  His career total is $1,179,800. So it is not surprising that he is ‘frustrated, disappointed and confounded’.

Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton was equally disquieted. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, he described Palestine as an “…imaginary state with zero economic viability.” He seems not to recognize that the reason Palestine has ‘zero economic viability’ is partly the result of the Israeli occupation that this resolution condemned. The other part of Palestine’s economic problems is the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

He also said that passage of Resolution 2334 is “… a hunting license to ostracize Israel from the international economic system, exposing it and its citizens to incalculable personal and financial risk”. Well, when the United Nations condemns the actions of any nation, it is certainly a reasonable step for other nations to ostracize that nation from the international economic system. And does he not consider the ‘incalculable personal and financial risks’ to which Palestinians are exposed on a daily basis, and have been for decades?

Mr. Netanyahu and his bestie, Mr. Trump, proclaim that a new era in Israel-US relations will begin on January 21. Yet ‘undoing’ a U.N. resolution is next to impossible, and based on the fact that 14 members of the Security Council voted in favor of Resolution 2334, there does not seem to be much appetite to even try.

The Israeli Prime Murderer is all in an uproar, accusing the U.S. of colluding with Palestine to pass the resolution. Oh, that the U.S. would collude with Palestine to accomplish anything positive for that beleaguered nation! Yet he himself pressured Egypt, which was originally scheduled to introduce the legislation, successfully preventing it from doing so. Apparently, collusion is fine if Israel does it.

So what does it all signify? Nations around the world can now take steps against Israel. There can be national economic boycotts, and the various laws passed in the U.S. and some European countries banning the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement, now have no legal leg to stand on, if they ever did. Talk of the illegality of settlements can be included in any negotiations on any topic that other nations have with Israel. Agreements about weapons sales, academic exchanges, business partnerships, etc., all can tie in restrictions, due to Israeli’s illegal settlement activities.

So let the U.S. Congress defund the United Nations. Ignore Mr. Netanyahu’s tantrums against nations that endorse human rights and international law. This resolution is, of course, only a step in the long march towards the freedom of the Palestinian people, but it is a significant and necessary one. Other nations must now act; history is on the side of justice, and justice will prevail.

Originally published on Counterpunch on December 30, 2016

 

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‘Newspeak’, the U.S. and Palestine

In George Orwell’s prophetic novel, 1984, we are introduced to ‘Newspeak’, which can be described as speech or writing that uses words in such a way as to change their meaning, with the intent of persuading people to think a certain way. Often, the goal is to make it appear that black is white; that war is peace, or that corruption is honesty.

Mr. Orwell himself spoke of political speech, perhaps a subset of Newspeak, saying that, in our time, political speech and writing are largely used in the defense of the indefensible.

Let’s see how ‘Newspeak’ has been utilized in describing the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Rarely a day goes by that some Israeli politician isn’t screaming about an existential threat to that rogue nation. The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, which includes churches, labor unions and universities voting to divest from Israeli holdings; scholars refusing to take part in academic projects with Israel, and entertainers refusing to perform there, along with the ‘rank and file’ boycotting Israeli products, is decried as an ‘existential threat’. Criticism by any nation of illegal settlements is seen as an ‘existential threat’. Palestinian resistance, that of a poorly armed, starved, occupied and blockaded population, is seen as an existential threat. The list is really endless.

The United States government, of course, owned by the Israeli lobby AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee), buys right into this, with billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money going to Israel, and laws being passed in various states banning the boycotting of Israel. How any elected official thinks such a law will ever stand up to a court challenge, and how they think such a law can be enforced, is beyond the understanding of this writer. But they all agree that these and other criticisms of Israel threaten the very existence of that country.

Now, it must be remembered that Palestine has no army, navy or air force. Its imports are severely restricted, and its exports, thanks to the occupation and blockade, are almost non-existent. Israel continually ‘confiscates’ (read: steals) Palestinian land to build huge new housing developments, all in violation of international law. Palestine faces a very real existential threat, but is seen as threatening Israel. This is certainly Newspeak.

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator, summed up this example of Newspeak clearly. “We are the only people on earth asked to guarantee the security of our occupier, while Israel is the only country that calls for defense from its victims”.

Newspeak does not only inhabit the halls of Congress, where that august body constantly sends billions of dollars to Israel, despite its violations of international law, and in violation of U.S. law, which predicates foreign aid on adherence to basic human rights, standards which Israel doesn’t even come close to meeting. It isn’t restricted to State Houses, where governors sign into law restrictive measures in clear violation of the Constitution. No, it even lives in the White House. When Israel was bombing the Gaza Strip in 2014, President Barack Obama said that “if someone attacked my daughters in their home, I would retaliate, too”. Newspeak at its best! He simply ignored the reality that Israeli terrorists are constantly attacking Palestinians in their homes in the West Bank; the night raids, when males as young as ten years old are dragged out of their beds and thrown into police vehicles, as their anguished mothers attempt unsuccessfully to protect them, somehow don’t count as ‘attacking children in their homes’. The bombing of the illegally blockaded Gaza Strip, where, when Mr. Obama issued that statement, nearly 300 children had been killed in their homes, somehow doesn’t count. All that counts is the fabrications that are created to please apartheid Israel.

Israel’s general excuse for bombing Gaza is ‘rocket’ fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Dr. Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and a strong proponent of Palestinian rights, calls these rockets, ‘enhanced fireworks’. The bombs from Israel, provided by the United States and including the most sophisticated, deadly weaponry on the planet, cannot be seen as ‘enhanced fireworks’. But in the Newspeak of Israel and the U.S., those ‘rockets’ from Gaza justify the carpet-bombing of homes, hospitals, mosques, press offices, and United Nations refugee centers.

It is also worth noting that in the summer of 2014, the number of bombs that Israel dropped on Gaza exceeded the number of so-called rockets that Gaza had fired into Israel in the previous fourteen years. Yet in the Newspeak of Israel and the U.S., and, of course, the corporate media, those ineffectual ‘rockets’ justified the killing of over 2000 Palestinians, nearly a quarter of whom were children, some as young as one month old.

Israel, we are told, is in great danger from Palestinian rockets. Yet the U.S. has provided Israel with the ‘Iron Dome’, which intercepts most of the rockets before they ever reach the ground. Palestine, of course, is defenseless against Israeli bombs. More Newspeak.

In many countries, an assailant with a knife is disarmed in a variety of ways. In the U.S. and Israel, being armed isn’t necessary to be threatening. In both nations, unarmed people are routinely killed by what is euphemistically called ‘law enforcement (more Newspeak), with the perpetrators being immune from prosecution. In the U.S., unarmed black men are fair game for any police office with an itchy trigger finger, and in Israel, any Palestinian, male or female, from children to the elderly, is fair game for IDF (Israeli Defense Forces; Israel’s state terrorists), if they are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. And minutes earlier, that might not have been the wrong place; it’s all up to the whim of the Israeli terrorists controlling the area.

Israel is now arresting and prosecuting anyone in Israel or Palestine who posts anything on social media critical of Israel. Big Brother is certainly alive and well in Israel. And it wasn’t so long ago that whistleblowers disclosed how the U.S. government was spying on millions of its own citizens.

In this election year, the U.S. is faced with two candidates who are fluent in Newspeak. Democrat Hillary Clinton declares her dedication to the 99%, when all her actions favor the super-rich. Republican Donald Trump proclaims the threat of Islam, a peaceful religion, the radical element of which is no more representative of it than the so-called Religious Right in the U.S. is of Christianity. And one of them will be the next president of the most powerful imperial nation in recent history.

Like Oceania in 1984, constantly fighting either Eastasia or Eurasia, the U.S. will wage deadly war in the Middle East and wherever else it invents an enemy. And like the people in Mr. Orwell’s Oceania, U.S. citizens will cheer with each death of an innocent victim, and take great pride in the might of their nation. They will boast of U.S. military strength; will ‘stand with Israel’, despite its unspeakable crimes against humanity, and will, in their own ways, proclaim their love for Big Brother.

In 2016, Mr. Orwell’s 1984 has arrived.

 

Originally published in Counterpunch.

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Israel Lines Its Pockets With Palestinian Aid — And The US Helps Israel Keep It That Way

From severely limited water supplies to a blockade on even the most basic supplies, Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine has destroyed even the most basic infrastructure Palestinians need to survive, forcing residents of Gaza and the West Bank to struggle through a humanitarian disaster.

This was intensified in 2014 during Israel’s most recent genocidal attack on the Gaza Strip, which left over 2,000 Palestinians dead and over 100,000 homeless. During that onslaught, Operation Protective Edge, Israel deliberately targeted Gaza’s infrastructure, destroying factories and plants that posed no threat to the occupation.

In September 2015, The United Nations’ Roberto Valent estimated that, at the current rate, it will take 30 years to rebuild Gaza, not to mention the estimated $7.8 billion required to fund those efforts.

Now, just two years later, the unemployment rate in Palestine has neared an astronomical 27 percent, and Oxfam International operates a food voucher program that assists 71,000 people in Gaza alone.

And while the chief reason for Palestinian suffering is the brutal, illegal occupation of Israel there are a number of other compounding factors found in the deeply corrupt Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.

In March, Mondoweiss reported that Mr. Abbas refused an opportunity to construct new electricity lines that would have supported the power sector in Gaza, where residents have electricity for just a few hours each day.

Ongoing “security cooperation” between Israel and the PA is another example of Mr. Abbas’ complicity in Palestinian suffering. There is also strong evidence that the PA shares information with Israel to prevent armed resistance to the occupation.

This complicity and corruption in Mr. Abbas’ PA plays into another major roadblock on Palestine’s path to recovery: International funds meant for reconstruction efforts in Gaza and other forms of humanitarian aid are routinely diluted by Israel.

 

Israel: A sieve for aid money intended for Palestine

Last month, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which regularly polls Palestinians on a range of issues, including their perception of corruption within the PA, reported that 80 percent perceive corruption and 52 percent view the PA as a burden.

An April report by Haaretz highlighted Palestinians’ long-standing grievances with the puppet government headed by Mr. Abbas and controlled by Israel and the United States:

“Outright theft of public funds, receiving of bribes and other favors in return for services, hugely inflated salaries and favors paid to senior NGO officials and high-level political interference in the replacement of senior civil servants.”

Monies donated to various NGOs operating in Palestine do not always reach their ultimate destination. This generally occurs for one of two reasons: corruption within the Palestinian government or theft by the Israeli government.

Over a five-year period, Rafiq al-Natsheh, chairman of the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission, recovered $70 million in state money which officials used to strike profitable deals abroad. While Al-Natsheh said tens of millions are still missing, he also refuted allegations that the missing monies total into the hundreds of millions. So the issue of corruption within Palestine, under the watchful eyes of the spineless Mr. Abbas, is significant, but it still isn’t the biggest component of the problem.

The main challenge to funding the needs of the Palestinians is caused by Israel. That apartheid nation demands that all aid to Palestine go through Israel. Therefore, such things as taxes, transportation costs and many other “fees” reduce the amount of aid that actually reaches Palestine, while enriching the occupiers.

And this causes international donations to decrease. Reuters reported in February:

“Over the past five years, direct support to the Palestinian budget from the EU and others has fallen from around $1.3 billion a year to less than $700 million, with the decline attributed in large part to frustration over money not being spent where it was intended or not being fully accounted for.”

It is interesting that while money “not being spent where it was intended or not being fully accounted for” is cause for the European Union and other entities to draw back their support, the model is not the same for the U.S. In the final report of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, which reviewed monies ostensibly spent for the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan following the United States’ devastation of those countries, it is estimated that between $31 billion and $60 billion had been lost to fraud and waste. However, U.S. money still flows to Iraq.

Indeed, the occupation of Palestine is a lucrative arrangement for Israel. Mondoweiss reported in March that Israel periodically tests new weaponry, usually provided by the U.S., on Palestinians. Then, after the testing is done, leaving thousands of innocent Palestinians dead or maimed, the weapons are ready to be sold on the international market.

 

Aid subversion and unfulfilled pledges

Since all aid to Palestine must go through Israel, as the Mondoweiss report highlighted, this provides endless opportunities for “aid subversion” or “aid diversion.” That is why studies indicate that 72 percent of that money remains in Israel, never benefitting Palestinians.

Another related issue is the lack of pledge fulfillment. After the 2014 Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the “Cairo Conference on Palestine – Reconstructing Gaza” was held on Oct. 14, 2014. Several nations pledged $5 billion — including $3.5 billion intended specifically for Gaza — to support the reconstruction of the more than 200,000 homes and businesses destroyed or damaged by Israel. Yet, as of March this year, less than half of the pledged monies had been sent.

Donations were to be made available between 2014 and 2017, but even allowing for the donations being sent periodically, rather than all at once, they are still behind. The following table shows the pledges, monies sent and shortfall from four Arab nations as of April, the most recent date for which this information is available:

aid graph

If one looks at the $232 million that has already been sent, far short of the nearly $2 billion pledged by these four nations, and considers that Israel skims at least 70 percent off that total, the amount actually received by Palestine is less than $70 million.

One of the international arguments against universal recognition of Palestine is that it cannot be self-sustaining. Yet as Al-Jazeera reported in April:

“The Palestinian Authority is being deprived of $285m in revenues annually, the World Bank reported, attributing these losses to arrangements outlined by the Paris Protocol, the Oslo Accord-era agreement that determined the economic relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The report further states that Israel is withholding $669 million in Palestinian revenue. Certainly, the influx of this money would greatly stimulate the Palestinian economy.

 

The 8th most powerful country in the world gets more US aid than Palestine

Israel is ranked as the eighth most powerful country in the world. Yet it still receives billions of dollars in foreign aid from the U.S. each year.

For fiscal year 2017, the U.S. has pledged $364 million to Palestine. Compare that to the proposal for foreign aid to Israel for 2017, which currently stands at $3.1 billion but could rise to as much as $4 billion. So the U.S. will give Palestine less than 10 percent of what it gives to the eighth most powerful country in the world.

And while the amount given to Israel is ever-increasing, the same is not true for Palestine. In October 2015, the U.S. reduced the $370 million promised to Palestine (less than what is pledged for 2017) to $290 million in order to send a “message” to that country in response to stabbing attacks in Jerusalem. Yet Israel kills hundreds of innocent Palestinians annually, and it continues to enjoy aid boosts from Washington.

Does it not appear that perhaps the international deck is stacked against Palestine? The U.S. sends it a fraction of what it sends to Israel, and Israel steals most of it anyway.

There can be no question that Mr. Abbas is far more beneficial to the U.S. and Israel than he is to Palestine, nor can it be questioned that the U.S. enables Israel’s apartheid regime. With billions required to rebuild Gaza, pledged donations only trickling in, Mr. Abbas cooperating with Israel, and the occupation continuing, the situation for Palestinians is dire.

Only when the rest of the world chooses to oppose the gross injustices that those two nations perpetrate on Palestine, will the Palestinians find peace and justice.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Palestine will not be a free and independent during his time in office, yet worldwide protest and condemnation appear to make it harder and harder for him to keep that promise.

 Originally published by MintPressNews.

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The First Amendment, BDS and Third Party Candidates

It seems sometimes that, like Alice, we have all tumbled down a rabbit hole and entered a bizarre new universe. However, Mr. Carroll could never have invented anything as peculiar as what is seen in United States politics and governance.

For reasons that only politicians and the lobbies who own them can completely understand, Israel, that brutal, apartheid nation, comes first and foremost in what passes for the minds of elected officials. It is reported that New Jersey is the latest in a string of states that is passing anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) laws. This, of course, will require endless hours of effort by some unfortunate bureaucrat to compile lists of organizations that support the boycott of Israel. Was it so long ago that other bureaucrats compiled lists of Communist ‘sympathizers’? We all know how well that turned out.

But anyway, why should politicians who bask in the largess of Israeli lobbies care about the First Amendment? That old thing! Let’s take a look at what is says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The Supreme Court over the years has expanded this to include states; it isn’t just Congress that is so forbidden. In 1982, in the case of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) vs. Clairborne Hardware Co., the Court found that “the nonviolent elements of a boycott are entitled to the protection of the First Amendment”.

Now, what might the governing bodies of New Jersey, New York and nine other states that have passed anti-BDS legislation learn from this? The purpose of the BDS movement, as indicated on its webpage, is clear: in 2005, “Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognized in full compliance with international law”. It would appear that all of these actions fall into the ‘non-violent’ category that the Supreme Court says is protected by the First Amendment.

During the long, drawn out, bitter campaign for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations, which was only a forerunner to what promises to be an unparalleled circus of a campaign between Tweedle-Dum (Republican Donald Trump) and Tweedle-Dee (Democrat Hillary Clinton), most of the candidates from both parties made the obligatory visit to the AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) altar in Washington, D.C. in March of this year. There, they decried Palestinian resistance to the occupation, resistance that is sanctioned by the United Nations, and praised Israeli ‘restraint’, that only killed 500 innocent children in less than two months in the summer of 2014. They spoke of the strength of Israeli ‘democracy’, where there are separate laws for Jewish Israelis, and non-Jewish Israelis. They talked of Israel as the U.S.’s only ‘friend’ in the Middle East, a friendship that the U.S. purchases with more foreign aid than is given to all other countries combined. Such groveling by men and women who would ‘lead’ the United States is nothing less than repulsive to watch.

Fortunately, the U.S. voter isn’t limited to the two representatives of the Republicratic Party. Choices abound, although the corporate-owned media (fascism, anyone?) would have us all believe otherwise. The candidacy of Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) has been mentioned by this writer previously, but is worth noting again, as she is one of the third-party candidates who does not feel compelled to kiss the unholy ring of Israel.

A few phrases from the PSL webpage are telling:

* The “campaign stands in full solidarity with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign…”

* “The BDS movement demands that Israel: End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantles the Wall; recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.  It fights for an end to Israeli apartheid.”

We learn from this some important differences between Ms. La Riva and Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. First, unlike her rivals, Ms. La Riva respects human rights. Second, she recognizes and respects international law. She understands the role of boycotting in bringing about change. Unlike the Republican and Democratic candidates, she recognizes apartheid when she sees it. Finally, she supports worldwide efforts to bring justice to the Palestinians, after decades of oppression.

But Ms. La Riva doesn’t stop there; she fully exposes the elephant (or perhaps, the donkey) in the room:

“Both of the presumptive major capitalist party candidates, Trump and Clinton, have expressed full support for Israel, outrageously painting Israel as ‘victim’ and the Palestinians as ‘aggressor,’ in keeping with the Israeli narrative that is constantly regurgitated by the corporate media here.”

As Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi has said, “the Palestinians are the only people on earth required to guarantee the security of the occupier, while Israel is the only country that demands protection from its victims.” Ms. La Riva seems to recognize that odd fact, and is willing to do something about it.

It is unlikely that a third-party candidate will be victorious in the 2016 presidential election farce, where the major competitors are highly disliked by large swaths of the electorate, which will seek in vain to find the lesser of two evils. But this situation, where the 99% must choose between two members of the 1%, can begin to die this year, if increasing numbers of people decide to pull a lever for a candidate other than those of either the GOP or Democratic Party. If voters consider such things as human rights, international law, and justice, they will be unable to vote for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. There are excellent alternatives, and Ms. La Riva is one of them.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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AIPAC, Israel and the U.S: an Unholy Alliance

The annual Israeli-lobby love fest is in full swing, the highlight of which may be the sight of most of the candidates for the highest office in the land groveling before their financial masters. The annual AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee; oops! That is, officially, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee) orgy always draws the United States president and every member of Congress worthy to be called a lackey for Israel, and their name is legion.

But during what the U.S. calls an election year, that quadrennial event when a four-year lease for the White House is auctioned off to the highest bidder, excitement at AIPAC is at a fever pitch. And this year, the thrill is even greater, since this is the first major meeting of this unholy lobby since the passage of the Iran agreement that moderates that nation’s nuclear ambitions, an agreement that the Israeli lobby found most unpalatable. Also, in January of next year, Israel will have a brand new president, when that odious Barack Obama, with whom Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu has a most uncordial relationship, will be replaced.

It is amazing to anyone who is not besotted with Israel, anyone who recognizes its constant, ongoing war crimes and violations of international law, to observe this spectacle. And what a spectacle has been brought to us thus far this year! A few gems will suffice to help the reader know what he or she is missing.

*The frontrunner for the GOP nomination, businessman and erstwhile reality television star Donald Trump, wowed the audience by promising to dismantle the nuclear agreement with Iran, and condemning Palestinian violence while he commended Israeli moderation. ‘The Donald’, famous for saying whatever his racist audience, be it an all-white one in Middle-America or a Zionist one in the nation’s capital, wants to hear, certainly delivered for AIPAC.

*Republican candidate wannabe Senator Ted Cruz, the obnoxious junior senator from Texas, who received $100,354 from various Israeli lobbies between 2009 and 2015, proclaimed, in response to Mr. Trump’s remarks, the amazing statement that the nation of Palestine doesn’t exist, and hasn’t since 1948! Well, aren’t we all enlightened by such a geography lesson from Mr. Cruz? Never mind that Palestine is recognized by at least 193 member states of the United Nations, and the United Nations itself. What is any of that, against the proclamations of a U.S. senator? Mr. Cruz announced to his anticipated AIPAC financiers that he would personally, as U.S. president, veto any move by the U.N. to enhance its recognition of Palestine, and would withhold federal funding from any institution, including universities, that boycotts Israel. Finally, he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something opposed by the world community. It is difficult to imagine a speech more pleasing to the Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee.

*On the Democratic side, former First Lady Hillary Clinton also pleased her financiers. She vowed to strengthen U.S.-Israel ties, fight BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction), and strengthen the Israeli military machine. Nothing surprising from the woman who would be queen (or in this case, president), and who is beholden to every major lobby group and 1% special interest group in the country.

*Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the only Jewish candidate in the race, skipped the convention in order to campaign in the west. This, in itself, was an affront to Zionists everywhere. His offer to appear via video was refused, so he sent a letter instead. In this missive, he did, unlike his various competitors, throw a bone to the Palestinians, saying that the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza Strip must end. But he talked about Israeli democracy, which is a figment of the imagination of U.S. and Israel public relations campaigns, and was careful to refer to the safety of the ‘Palestinians’, but never to a safe and secure Palestine, although a safe and secure Israel was uppermost in his words.

Mr. Sanders also talked about the shared values between the U.S. and Israel. He was, quite possibly, referring to racism, disdain for international law, a ‘might makes right’ attitude and other ‘values’ that the two nations share.

So that is what is being served at the AIPAC convention this year, and it is certainly a foul-tasting meal. More racism, more genocide, more apartheid, all financed and supported by the U.S., that bastion of liberty and freedom (see earlier comment about public relations). Yet for the Zionist population, the words of all the candidates, with the exception of Mr. Sanders, were music to their ears.

But do Mr. Sanders words really represent some hope for Palestine? Well, he does seem to recognize that the concepts of human rights and self-determination do apply to them, a fact that escapes all the other presidential candidates, and that is a good sign. But talk is cheap, and the senator has a long history of supporting Israel’s periodic carpet-bombing of the Gaza Strip. But with an election year offering the likes of Messrs. Cruz and Trump, and her highness, Mrs. Clinton, we should be grateful for any small favors such as those offered by Mr. Sanders.

On March 20 of this year, I attended the AIPAC convention, but only from the outside; he had no desire to join the racist Zionist hoodlums in the convention center. He listened to the thoughtful words of Rabbi Dovid Weiss; author Miko Peled, son of a prominent Israeli general, and many others who oppose Zionism. The number of attendees was not large; certainly, it was dwarfed by the 18,000 attending the convention. But the numbers don’t tell the story; what is telling is that at least two of the major party candidates singled out BDS for mention, indicating the growing strength and effectiveness of that movement.

Criticism of Palestinian resistance, with no acknowledgement that Israeli oppression is the cause, a fact that even United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke clearly of in January of this year, falls increasingly on deaf ears in any but a Zionist audience. International impatience with Apartheid Israel, seen in the increasing number of resolutions to recognize Palestine, and growing numbers of laws to clearly label products made in the occupied West Bank as Israeli, and not Palestinian, continues to expand. Time is on the side of justice; Israel and the U.S. will not prevail against it forever.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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The Facade of Israel is Cracking

For many more years than any intelligent person would want to count, Israel was the sacred cow of the United States. From its violent, bloody, genocidal inception that involved the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians, and the murder of another 10,000, right through to the illegal, immoral occupation of the West Bank and blockade (aka occupation) of the Gaza Strip, Israel, in the view of U.S. governance and politics, could do no wrong. Anyone who dared to criticize Israel’s many crimes was accused of anti-Semitism; as Dr. Norman Finkelstein said, “whenever Israel faces a public relations debacle, its apologists sound the alarm that a ‘new anti-Semitism’ is upon us”. In the past, if a Jew, such as Dr. Finkelstein, was critical of Israel, Zionists raised the cry that he was ‘a self-hating Jew’, and U.S. politicians bought that ridiculous line. As a result, Israel became the beneficiary of the bulk of U.S. foreign aid, and has relied on the U.S. for years for protection from international accountability for its crimes, with the U.S always happy to veto any United Nations resolution condemning Israeli violations of human rights and international law.

Oh, but what a difference a 51-day, genocidal onslaught can make! This, of course, refers to the invasion and carpet-bombing of the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2014. Israel had previously been able to ‘mow the grass’, as it refers to these periodic bombing episodes, with complete impunity. But thanks largely to social media, the world stopped believing that vulnerable, little Israel, with the fourth largest military in the world, and supplied and backed by the largest, was in grave danger from Big Bad Palestine, a nation it illegally occupies, and which has no army, navy or air force. Ongoing settlement activity by apartheid Israel, along with Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration that Palestinians would never have an independent state while he is prime murderer, and a conflicted relationship with his favorite check-writer, President Barack Obama, seem to have soured the whole thing for Israel.

How is this manifesting itself? Well, in a variety of ways, actually. Mr. Obama has ordered that goods produced by Israel in the occupied West Bank must clearly state that that is the case; they cannot say ‘manufactured in Israel’ anymore. This has brought down the wrath of Zionists everywhere.

Against Israeli wishes, the U.S., along with European Union, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany entered into an agreement with Iran that regulates that nation’s nuclear program. Various Israeli lobbies spent around $40 million opposing this agreement, to no avail. And Mr. Netanyahu has been saying for decades that Iran is only months away from nuclear weapons. Time must be measured somewhat differently in Israel than it is in the rest of the world.

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate hopeful Bernie Sanders did the unthinkable this year: he skipped the AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) convention this month. He did, however, send a letter, in which he added insult to injury, when he not only recognized the existence of the Palestinians, but also acknowledged that they have legitimate rights to self-determination! Absolutely inconceivable for a U.S. politician!

But it gets worse (for Zionists). On March 29, the other senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry (aka, Israel’s whipping boy), signed by himself and ten members of the House of Representatives, requesting that the State Department investigate possible human rights violations by Israel, saying that if Israel is so guilty, U.S. law requires that aid to it is adjusted. Such aid to any country is conditioned upon that country’s adherence to international law in the area of human rights, and Mr. Leahy has received credible word (which the rest of the world has been privy to for years), that Israel is, perhaps, in violation.

The international scene is not boding much better for Israel. The European Union, like the U.S. (and leading the way, of course; one must not expect leadership in human rights to emanate from the United States), now requires that Israeli products from the occupied West Bank be clearly stated as such. And much to the horror of FOX News, the United Nations named Israel the top human rights violator in the world, due to its killing of women and children in Palestine.

Now, the news is not all bad. It is likely that either wind-bag businessman Donald Trump, or Miss 1% herself, Hillary Clinton, will be the next president of the United States, and there is no Israeli hoop through which they are not willing to jump. Zionists were treated to more butt-kissing at the AIPAC convention from each of the candidates, with desperate and despicable Senator Ted Cruz (R – TX) going so far as to deny the very existence of Palestine! Such a proclamation may have soothed the hurt their feelings sustained by the words of Mr. Sanders. But outside the convention hall, pro-Palestinian demonstrators (including this writer), detracted perhaps just a little bit from the fun of the Zionist bacchanal going on inside the convention hall.

And let us not lose sight of the fact that the U.S. is fomenting all kinds of wars and uprisings in the Middle East, mainly to prevent any other country from challenging Israeli superiority in the area. This is an old model; as early as 1961, the U.S. opposed its previously hand-picked Iraqi leader, Abdel Karim Kassem, when he began to build up armaments, and talked of challenging Israeli dominance. So, since such a thing was unheard of, he was overthrown by the CIA, which installed his successor, one Saddam Hussein. We won’t consider now how well that all turned out.

But it does seem that poor little Israel is finally beginning to get the short end of the stick with which it has been bashing Palestinians for decades. Yes, a new president will pucker-up sufficiently, but the narrative has changed; things cannot return to the status quo once that obnoxious concept – facts – that the U.S. has no use for, has been let out of the box. What will it mean? It is too early to tell how it will play out; AIPAC will do everything in its considerable power to assure that Congress remains firmly under its thumb. But as it unsuccessfully unleashed its power to defeat the Iran nuclear agreement, even sending Mr. Netanyahu to address Congress about it, it will be unsuccessful in seizing back the narrative.

So we can all expect to hear more cries of anti-Semitism, anytime anyone condemns Israeli crimes. We will hear more about how the Israeli army is the most moral in the world, as more and more videos show Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed and unthreatening men, women and children. We will hear how Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, as its apartheid laws cause untold suffering for non-Israelis, and non-Jewish Israelis.

But the light is now clearly visible at the end of the tunnel; the train of justice is barreling down, and Israel will only be a minor impediment, slowing it, possibly, but unable to stop it. When it reaches the station, Palestine will be free.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Why Every President Since Truman Has Been An Israel Hawk

KITCHENER, Ontario — (Analysis) The establishment of the state of Israel is known throughout Palestine as the Nakba, or “Catastrophe.” As the British Mandate of Palestine ended throughout 1947 and 1948, at least 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homeland, and another 100,000 or more were massacred.

Although the United States wasn’t an active party to the circumstances that led to the Nakba, the country’s long history with Israel has only been supportive of that nation’s barbarity — and that support has grown exponentially over the years.

In the U.S., the press framed Palestinian resistance as opposition to the Jewish state rather than an assertion of their own human rights. Scholar Michael A. Dohse wrote in “American Periodicals and the Palestine Triangle, April, 1936 to February, 1947”:

“Despite the fact that there was considerable evidence of the extreme nationalistic drive behind the Zionist movement, which was its motivating force, American journals gave a good press to the Zionists’ alleged goal of building a democratic commonwealth in Palestine. How this would be possible when the Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population and were opposed to Zionism, did not seem to be a relevant question to many of the magazines.”

This, of course, was in complete contravention of U.S. doctrine, even as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and “[t]hat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The consent of the governed — in this case, the Palestinians — was not to be considered.

 

Pre-WWII, pre-state of Israel

Months before the Balfour Declaration was made in November of 1917, declaring British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson commented on the absolute need for self-determination. On May 27, 1916, he said: “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.”

Mr. Wilson continued his lofty rhetoric, telling Congress on Feb. 11, 1918: “National aspirations must be respected; peoples may not be dominated and governed only by their own consent.” Further, in the same speech on German-Austrian “peace utterances,” he declared: “Self-determination is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.”

These and subsequent speeches by Mr. Wilson were troubling to his secretary of state, Robert Lansing. In his private journals, according to Frank Edward Manuel in his book “The Realities of American Palestine Relations,” Lansing wrote that such concepts were “‘… 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?’”

If the Palestinians ever relied on U.S. rhetoric to assist them in achieving the basic human rights that all people are entitled to, they were certainly to be disappointed.

 

Truman, Eisenhower

Following World War II, the world was anxious to make some kind of reparation to the Jewish people for the Holocaust. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, passed on Nov. 29, 1947, effectively partitioned Palestine into two states.

It is difficult to properly quantify the degree of injustice that this entailed. “Although Jews owned only about seven percent of the land in Palestine and constituted about 33 percent of the population, Israel was established on 78 percent of Palestine,” according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no voice in the decision that evicted them, no reparation for the loss of their homes and lands, and nowhere to go but refugee camps.

By this time, Harry S. Truman was president, and he offered full consent for this plan for reasons that will be familiar to readers today: He was subjected to intense lobbying by the Zionist lobby. He also felt that by supporting the establishment of Israel, he would be in a better position to be elected to a full term as president, having ascended to that office upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lobbying and political considerations then, as now, trump human rights every time.

Mr. Truman was elected president in his own right in 1948, and was succeeded four years later by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who named John Foster Dulles as his secretary of state.

Mr. Dulles was familiar with the Palestine-Israel situation, and his sympathies clearly rested with Israel. In 1944, he played an active role in seeing that the platform of the Republican Party included support for a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine, and also that the platform called for the protection of Jewish political rights. Years later, he exerted a strong influence on the president under whom he served, setting the tone for the Eisenhower administration’s attitude toward Israel and Palestine.

 

Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter

Things appeared to take a turn with the administration of John F. Kennedy, who showed support for the right of return for refugees, as described in Paragraph 11 of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 of Dec. 11, 1948. That resolution affirms that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Government or authorities responsible.”

Israel, under David Ben-Gurion, used what has become a tried and true method to oppose this measure: The state’s founder and first prime minister called it a threat to Israel’s national security.

Ultimately, Resolution 194 passed, but has yet to have any effect.

Despite his apparent support for Palestinian refugees, Mr. Kennedy was the first president to elevate the U.S.-Israel relationship from that of simply two allies to a more enhanced bond. Speaking to the Zionist Organization of America three months before his election, he said, “Friendship for Israel is not a partisan matter, it is a national commitment.”

Following Mr. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, he was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson, who did not share his predecessor’s interest in resolving the refugee problem. The Democratic Party Platform of 1964, the year Mr. Johnson was elected president, included a provision to “encourage the resettlement of Arab refugees in lands where there is room and opportunity.” All talk of the right of return ceased.

The Johnson administration ended in January of 1968, when former Vice President Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president. Nixon had less obligation to Israel, having earned only about 15 percent of the Jewish vote. In his memoirs, he commented on Israeli arrogance after the Six-Day War of 1967, describing “an attitude of total intransigence on negotiating any peace agreement that would involve the return of any of the territories they had occupied.”

Unfortunately for Palestine, however, Mr. Nixon’s closest advisor was Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security advisor and, later, his secretary of state. Mr. Kissinger’s parents had fled Nazi Germany shortly before the start of the Holocaust, and he had visited Israel multiple times but had never set foot in an Arab country. With Mr. Nixon’s preoccupation with what he considered the “Communist threat,” Mr. Kissinger was perfectly content with the Israel-Palestine status quo. “Rather than make any effort toward the Arab states, much less the Palestinians, Kissinger felt the United States should let them stew until they came begging to Washington,” according to “U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton,” edited by Michael W. Suleiman. With this attitude, nothing was done to further the cause of justice under this president’s terms in office.

When Mr. Nixon resigned in a fog of controversy and scandal, his vice president, Gerald Ford, became president. He served as a caretaker president until the next election, when he was defeated by Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.

Although Mr. Carter has recently become a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, this was not the case during his single term as president. He presided over the Camp David Accords, a two-track agreement that was supposed to bring peace to the Middle East. The first of the two dealt with Palestine, and nothing in it was ever achieved. The second led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

 

Reagan, Bush

After one term, Mr. Carter was defeated by former actor and California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Like Mr. Nixon before him, Mr. Reagan saw Communist threats everywhere. Fearing a Soviet stronghold on the Middle East, he determined that strengthening ties with Israel would be an excellent deterrent. In 1982, he declared that the U.S. would not support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, nor would it “support annexation or permanent control by Israel.”

Following First Intifada in 1987, Mr. Reagan sent his secretary of state, George Shultz, to solve the problem. Mr. Shultz proposed a three-pronged strategy: convening an international conference; a six-month negotiation period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip; talks between Israel and Palestine to start in December 1988 to achieve the final resolution of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir immediately rejected this plan, claiming 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 75 F-16 fighter jets. This was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. As Suleiman’s work noted: “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”

When Mr. Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, succeeded him for one term, the bonus to Israel continued unabated. Yet this was still not enough for Israel. Writing in The New York Times in 1991, Thomas Friedman commented on the state of relations between the U.S. and Israel during the Bush administration: “Although the Bush Administration’s whole approach to peacemaking is almost entirely based on terms dictated by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Israelis nevertheless see the Bush Administration as hostile.”

 

Clinton, another Bush, Obama

Following one term, Mr. Bush was succeeded by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who surrounded himself with Zionists, including CIA Director James Woolsey and Pentagon Chief Les Aspin.

In March of 1993, following clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in both Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territories, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin closed the borders between Israel and Palestine. This had a drastic detrimental effect on the lives and basic subsistence for at least tens of thousands of Palestinians. The Clinton administration chose to look the other way as Israel perpetrated this unspeakable act of collective punishment.

The administration of George W. Bush differed little in its treatment of matters related to Israel and Palestine from those who came before it. When Hamas was elected to govern the Gaza Strip in 2006, Mr. Bush ordered a near-total ban on aid to Palestine. 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.”

Coming into office chanting the appealing mantra of “Change we can believe in,” current President Barack Obama proved to be another in a long line of disappointments. Like his predecessors, he’s vetoed any resolutions presented at the U.N. Security Council that were critical of Israel. Incredibly, after one such veto, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice made this statement:

”We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”

Meanwhile, military aid to Israel from the U.S. continued unabated. This aid has reached nearly $4 billion annually under the Obama administration, and is likely to get another boost before Mr. Obama leaves office.

This is not unusual. According to conservative estimates, the U.S. has given Israel a staggering $138 billion in military and other aid since 1949. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the first 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, granting billions to Israel every year. Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu are currently negotiating the new deal, which the prime minister hopes will guarantee even more to the apartheid regime.

 

Change that can’t come soon enough

Even if it didn’t come with Mr. Obama, change does seem to be on the horizon. With the explosive growth of social media, the general public no longer relies solely on the corporate-owned media for information. The horrors that Israel inflicts daily on the Palestinians are becoming more common knowledge. This includes the periodic bombing of the Gaza Strip, a total blockade that prevents basic supplies from being imported, and the checkpoint stops and verbal and physical harassment that Palestinians are subjected to on a daily basis in the West Bank.

It’s even entered the current U.S. presidential election. Sen. Bernie Sanders, seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, skipped the annual American Israel Political Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, convention in March. Additionally, he said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t always right and that Israel uses disproportionate force against the Palestinians, and Mr. Sanders recognized that Palestinians have rights. Like skipping the AIPAC conference, these statements are all in violation of some unspoken U.S. code of conduct for politicians.

Yet the ugly history of the U.S., in its unspeakably unjust dealings with Palestine, created a stain that generations will be unable to cleanse. Total disdain for the human rights of an entire nation, and the complicity in the violation of international law and in the war crimes of Israel, are not easy to expunge. Mr. Sanders’ words and actions are only the manifestation of a larger change occurring in U.S. attitudes toward Israel and Palestine. Once that change is sufficiently great to impact the U.S. power brokers, real change will occur. For Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid, it cannot come soon enough.

Originally published by Mint Press News.

 

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The United States and Israel: ‘Shared Values’

This is a presidential election year in the United States, and every campaign for the presidency requires all candidates to bow down to Israel.
We hear proclamations of how closely the security of Israel is tied to the security of the United States, with no explanation of why that is. We are constantly being told that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, regardless of one set of laws for Jewish Israelis, and separate, discriminatory laws for non-Jewish Israelis living there.
The ‘fact’ that Israel is the US’s only ‘friend’ in the Middle East is repeated constantly, without any reminder that, before the existence of Israel, the US had no enemies in that part of the world. Neither are we told that the US’s only ‘friend’ in the Middle East receives more money in foreign aid from the US than all other countries combined.
Let US cities go bankrupt, while Tel Aviv flourishes; charge astronomical interest rates to US university students, while Israeli students pay a nominal fee for tuition, room and board; provide Israel with the most sophisticated and deadly armaments on the planet, some of them illegal under international law, while the nation Israel brutally oppresses is used as a testing ground for them. Even Democratic candidate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, while offering a tepid criticism of Israel, made these same proclamations. And we never cease to hear of the ‘shared values’ between the US and Israel.
Perhaps it is time to take a closer look at these ‘shared values’; by doing so, we can see that the two nations do, indeed share many of the same ‘values.’

Racism

In the United States, young, unarmed Black men serve as target practice for the mainly white police force. They are shot multiple times, at point-blank range, when unarmed and unthreatening. Seldom is a police officer charged with any crime for shooting and killing such a victim, whether the victim is an adult or a minor, male or female. That is the justice system in the US. This is now so commonplace that it is hardly even reported anymore.
In Israel, young, unarmed Palestinians serve the same function for the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and illegal settlers (a redundant term, since all settlers are illegal).  They are shot to death when unarmed and unthreatening in any way, sometimes in the back. Such shootings have even been captured on video camera, eliminating any need for eye-witness accounts. Yet seldom, if ever, is an IDF soldier or a settler charged with a crime. Even when a soldier shoots, in the head, a wounded, immobile, unarmed Palestinian, the nation rallies around the soldier and proclaims him a hero, as the government says the shooting was justified.

‘Might makes right’

United States: The US probably invented this concept as its power grew over the centuries. When any international conflict arises, rather than working through diplomatic channels to resolve it, bombing always seems to be the preferred method. The countries that the US has bombed, invaded, destabilised or otherwise violently interfered with are too numerous to mention here, but a short list will be provided of those so victimised since the middle of the last century:
    • Syria – 1949, 2014 – present.
    • Iran – 1953
    • Guatemala – 1954
    • Tibet – 1955
    • Indonesia – 1958
    • Cuba – 1959 – 2016
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo – 1960 -1965
    • South Vietnam – 1963 – 1973
    • Brazil – 1964
    • Ghana – 1966
    • Chile – 1970 – 1973
    • Afghanistan – 1979 – 1989; 2003 – present.
    • Turkey – 1980
    • Poland – 1980 – 1981
    • Nicaragua – 1981 – 1990
    • Cambodia – 1980
    • Angola – 1980s
    • Philippines – 1986
    • Iraq – 1992 – 1996 – 2002
    • Venezuela – 2002
    • Palestinian territories – 2006 – present
    • Yemen – 2002 – Present
Israel: In Israel, IDF soldiers use what by any definition is excessive force to quell rock-throwing by Palestinians. It has also assassinated nuclear scientists in Iran, bombed US warships, and brutally and criminally invaded Palestine numerous times, a nation that it occupies in violation of international law.

Selective use of law

United States: In late 2002, the United Nations, pushed by the US, found Iraq to be in violation of one UN resolution. With this as an excuse, the US invaded Iraq, causing untold death, destruction and suffering, not to mention a huge increase in hostility toward the US. Yet Israel, in violation of dozens of UN resolutions, receives constant, unwavering support from the US.
Israel: For its part, Israel condemns rock-throwing by Palestinians, who have an internationally-recognised right to resist occupation. When three illegal settlers were found murdered in 2014, Israel condemned the violence. But when an illegal settler burned a Palestinian infant to death, this was not seen as an act of terrorism, and only minor charges were laid. Additionally, during a recent increase in attacks on Israelis by Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel responded with deadly force, condemning the violence, while ignoring the ongoing, daily, deadly violence perpetrated against Palestinians by Israeli settlers and soldiers, all in violation of international law.

Global Hypocrisy

United States: US spokespeople, from the president on down to local governmental politicians, all talk about democracy, the absolute right for people to decide on their own who should govern them, and the sacredness of liberty. Yet this same government overthrows democratically-elected governments that it disagrees with. One example, among many, occurred in Chile. Salvador Allende was democratically elected in 1970, but the US could not countenance a Marxist as the president there. As a result, it supported radical, right-wing groups which eventually led to the overthrow of Mr Allende, who was replaced by General Augusto Pinochet. With his ascent to power, democratic rule in Chile ended after 41 years, and tens of thousands of his opponents were kidnapped, tortured and murdered. But this rule, in the view of the United States, was preferable than that of Mr Allende.
Israel: Politicians in Israel forever talk about their desire for peace, as they continue to steal Palestinian land; imprison, torture and kill innocent Palestinian men, women and children, and then call all opposition to this brutality ‘anti-Semitic’, and a threat to the existence of Israel. These politicians are always fearful of ‘existential’ threats to Israel, as they slowly destroy all that remains of Palestine.
There was a time when people believed that the Republican Party represented the wishes of business and the wealthy; the Democratic Party was seen as the voice of the common, working man and woman. If this was ever true, and that is questionable, at the very least, it is certainly not the case today. In 2012, a ‘voice vote’ was held at the Democratic convention to address a few issues, including whether or not the Party should recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, something omitted from the 2008 platform, and opposed by the international community.
The voice vote was held by participants being asked to shout either ‘aye’ or ‘no’; a two-thirds majority is required. How one can estimate that from a voice vote is beyond the understanding of this writer. Regardless, after holding three such ‘votes’, the convention chair, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, determined that the ‘aye’ votes had registered more than two-thirds, and the motion passed. The crowd present vocally expressed its disapproval. A truly democratic vote would have provided ballots on which the participants could record their votes, and which could then be counted. But the convention chair, who has visited Israel multiple times, and often expressed support for Israel, announced that the motion had carried.
So, let us summarise: shared ‘values’ include deadly violence; violation of international law; selective use of law, and global hypocrisy. It also seems to mean the refusal to recognise reality. Around the world, more and more people are recognising that Israel is an apartheid regime, and are taking steps to oppose it. This is seen at the ‘grass-roots’ level, as the ‘Boycott, Divest and Sanction’ movement gains power, and at the national level as more and more nations vote to recognise Palestine, and demand that Israel adhere to international law. The US and Israel become increasingly isolated in the court of public opinion, and the facade that each attempts to present is quickly dissolving.
While none of this increased awareness changes the facts on the ground for Palestinians today, it all bodes well for the future. Generations yet unborn will demand to know why Israeli apartheid was allowed to continue for so long. This writer, for one, will be unable to provide them with a satisfactory answer.
– See more at: http://www.daysofpalestine.com/features/united-states-israel-shared-values/#sthash.AVmphjZu.dpuf

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