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Saudi Arabia and Israel: Strange Bedfellows

Saudi Arabia and Israel: Strange Bedfellows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.

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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 ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’

With an election year now upon us, the unfortunate U.S. citizenry is being constantly assaulted by those who would ‘make America great again’, as if it ever was. From the Republicans, we learn that such horrors as health care for the masses and food stamps for the poor will be done away. The ability for everyone to marry the person of his or her choice, which apparently is the height of immorality, will no longer be allowed. The possibility of affordable higher education, with low-interest, government loans, is not even to be considered. And Muslims will no longer be allowed in the country because, as we all know, they are all terrorists.

On the Democratic side, things aren’t all the much better. Before the so-called ‘safety net’, the taxpayer-provided assistance to the poor and needy, can be reinforced, or before the education system can be improved, or the nation’s infrastructure repaired, one must assure that Israel has all that it wants and needs. Now this is no change from the current administration; President Barack Obama wrote all the checks Israel demanded, but he was not pleasant about it. His successor, whoever that may be, promises to jump through all the Israeli hoops with a big smile on his or her face.

The level of political discourse among the lesser gods striving for office isn’t much better. For example, this writer last lived in the U.S. in Florida, and it is there that he is registered to vote. One Alan Grayson is running for senate there, and, until recently, this writer was on his mailing list. Among the qualifications Mr. Grayson listed in numerous and nauseating emails were more than one talking about how he has more U.S. flag ties than any other member of Congress. This is not what this voter needs to make an informed decision. He wrote to the candidate several times asking for his position on the Israel-Palestine situation, but Mr. Grayson did not see fit to respond. Oh well, maybe the question was simply too difficult for him.

Let us take a moment to discuss the legendary and mythical greatness of the U.S. Did it ever exist? Is there some ‘greatness’ that current politicians could bring the country back to? The irony of bringing the U.S. ‘back’ is lost on most of the candidates, and this writer will not insult the reader by explaining it. But let us take a short trip throughout U.S. history.

The nation started with thirteen colonies rebelling against the British government. That this was a people’s movement, with wide support, is a popular story, but then again, so is the Three Little Pigs. One must as readily believe in the porcine construction of three huts as readily as the myth of the common man in the late 1700s rising up in rebellion against the Crown. A more careful look at history indicates that roughly one-third of the people living in the colonies supported the revolution; another third was loyal to Britain. The remainder vacillated; when Britain seemed to be winning, they supported Britain. When the ‘revolutionaries’ had the upper hand, they sided with them.

Regardless of how much support they had, the ‘revolutionaries’ defeated the British, and quickly began their own empire. With an entire continent, rich in natural resources, the opportunity for untold wealth was unlimited. So what if several million natives lived on the land? What right did they have to it? The slaughter of the Native Americans began long before the country was established, but became policy once the Revolutionary War ended. Countless millions of native men, women and children were brutally killed, driven from their lands and exploited in unspeakable ways as ‘democracy’ roared across the continent.

As lands were cleared of Native villages that had existed from time immemorial, cotton became a popular product. Unfortunately, there simply weren’t enough people willing to pick it, at least not at wages that plantation owners wanted to pay. So how did the ‘great’ United States resolve this problem? Well, why not sail to the African continent, kidnap millions of people, and force them to do the work? ‘Yankee ingenuity’ at its best! These people were not white, and so in the view of the enlightened and ‘great’ United States, affirmed by the Supreme Court, they weren’t quite human. They could be bought or sold, treated worse than dogs, and forced to labor long hours under horrendous conditions. Countless thousands died en route to the U.S., and their bodies were simply thrown overboard. Never mind how this might have impacted the parents or children of the deceased; these were not people, but simply commodities. If a sack of potatoes went bad on board, simply throw it over! Black kidnap victims were viewed the same way.

As the years progressed into decades, and the decades into centuries, things weren’t much better. In their turn, Chinese workers, the Irish, Italians, Catholics, Mormons, Jews and many others were exploited, discriminated against, harassed, beaten and killed, simply because they were Chinese, Irish, etc.

Fast forward to Pearl Harbor and World War II. Concentration camps in the U.S. for Japanese citizens were mandated; many of these citizens lost their homes and businesses, simply because they were Japanese. During this time, anyone who might be considered a threat to national security was sifted out of the great melting pot, and the Japanese felt the brunt of this particular injustice.

We will do no more than mention the slaughter of Filipinos during the Philippine-American War, or the horrific massacre of over 2,000,000 Vietnamese during that tragic, imperial misadventure. Nor will we dwell on the dehumanization and murders of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis at the start of the new millennium. All part of U.S. ‘greatness’.

Today, little has really changed. Young, unarmed and defenseless Black men serve as target practice for police officers, often trained by one of the most savage and brutal armies in the world, that of Israel. Why police officers, who are supposed to ‘serve and protect’, must receive military training, and be equipped with vehicles appropriate for an invasion, is puzzling, unless one considers that the powers that be have every intention of staying exactly where they are, and instilling fear in the populace is an excellent tool for accomplishing that goal. And what passes for the justice system in the U.S. allows murderous police officers to escape any penalty for their crimes.

Muslims suffer persecutions that would be headline news if they happened to any other group. One can only imagine the response in the mainstream media, and the highest offices in the land, if a group of armed Muslims surrounded a church or synagogue during services.

The U.S. provides billions upon billions of dollars to Israel, whose Prime Minister refers to Palestinians as beasts. The U.S. government persecutes those who would shed light on its crimes, condemning whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden. And it glorifies such mass murderers as sniper Chris Kyle.

Yet we are told we should vote for a senate candidate with several U.S. flag ties, and a presidential candidate who made a small fortune speaking to Goldman Sachs, but will not reveal what it is she said. The Supreme Court has allowed unlimited corporate donations to candidates; one is naïve indeed if one thinks those corporations are buying power for the good of the people. A quotation, thought to have originated with John Maynard Keynes, is this: “Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all”. Former President Ronald Reagan’s ‘trickle down’ economics was the embodiment of this, and that practice hasn’t changed much since the Reagan years.

The average worker in the U.S. is required to work a certain number of hours a week; he/she is generally responsible for creating some kind of artifact: computer code, documentation, report, a physical product, a lesson plan, etc. A few weeks of paid vacation are usually offered with the employment. There may be other benefits: medical insurance, bonuses, etc. If the number of days off taken exceeds the vacation or sick time allowed, the worker’s pay is forfeited for that time. Excessive absences may result in termination of employment.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are under no such constraints. The can work as many or as few hours as they choose, and even the required number of days is not onerous. In 2014, Congress was scheduled to be in session about 133 days; the average, non-Congressional worker (e.g. you and me), works about 240. And many of them spend much of their work time looking for a new job: campaigning for the presidency, senate, or other role seen as more powerful than their current one, or simply raising money for their next campaign.

This is the great United States; this is the sacred union that is the ‘envy’ of the world, according to its Congressional cheerleaders.

The history of the United States is over two hundred years of blood, exploitation and oppression. The November election will cause nothing to change.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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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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