Ahed Tamimi’s Bravery Exposes Israeli (apartheid state) , US Cowardice

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Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi is free after eight months in an Israeli prison. While her bravery in confronting occupying Israeli soldiers has been celebrated around the world, Western media outlets have gone to great lengths to portray her as an aggressor. We speak to Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada

Story Transcript

AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate.

The Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi has been freed from an Israeli prison after eight months behind bars. Seventeen-year-old Ahed became a global symbol of resistance when she was arrested for slapping an Israeli soldier who was trespassing on her property. At the time, Ahed had just learned that Israeli forces had shot her cousin Mohammed Tamimi in the face, leaving him in a coma. Upon her release Sunday, Ahed addressed a crowd of supporters in the occupied West Bank.

AHED TAMIMI: From the our home, I say resistance is continuing until the occupation is removed. All female prisoners in jail are strong, and I thank everyone who stood by me while I was in prison and who stood with all women prisoners.

AARON MATE: Ahed and her family have become known around the world for their unwavering protest of the Israeli occupation, even the face of constant Israeli military intimidation, and even fatal violence. After her cousin Mohammed was seriously wounded, Israeli forces shot dead another of Ahed’s cousins, 17-year-old Musab Tamimi, at a West Bank protest. But while Ahed and her family have become global heroes, the reaction of Western media and politicians has been quite different. Many Western outlets ignored Ahed’s release. And those who paid attention, such as the BBC and New York Times, portrayed her slapping of an occupying soldier as a violent, aggressive act.

Joining me is Ali Abunimah. He is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, whose latest book is The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Welcome, Ali. If you could start, just for anyone who is unfamiliar with Ahed Tamimi’s story and that of her family, if you could talk about the background to this historic, historic release from prison today, and the significance that her and her family have come to play for the Palestinian struggle around the world.

ALI ABUNIMAH: Hello, Aaron. Yes, Ahed Tamimi- who turned 17 when she was in prison, so legally speaking she is still a child- was just released. She leaves behind in Israeli prison almost 300 other Palestinian children. She became sort of an international symbol when she slapped an Israeli soldier on December 15. And her mother Nariman, who also was just released from prison on Saturday along with Ahed, had filmed that and put it on Facebook. So her mother was imprisoned for incitement under the Israeli military law.

And what’s so symbolic or typical about this case, you could say, is that she was punished, this harsh punishment of being imprisoned in military detention for eight months, for slapping heavily-armed soldiers. Whereas the soldiers who shot her cousin, blowing, you know, a huge rubber coated metal ball into the back of his, through the front of his skull into the back of his head, necessitating the removal of one third of his skull, nobody has been held accountable for that. No one has been held accountable for the killings of other members of the Tamimi family, more than 20 members of the Tamimi family since the occupation began, or of other Palestinians in the village of Nabi Saleh, or indeed any Palestinians at all.

So it symbolizes the notion, the reality that it is Palestinians living under military occupation who are criminalized, while the real criminals are the ones who market themselves, and indeed are marketed by the New York Times and the BBC, as the ones who uphold the law.

AARON MATE: Ali, you mentioned Ahed’s cousin Mohammed Tamimi. I want to go to a clip of him where he spoke about his ordeal after being shot by Israeli forces, the incident that happened just before Ahed slapped the soldier on her property.

So that is Mohammad Tamimi. Ali, you know, on top of just the surreal scene of seeing a 16-year-old Palestinian teenager jailed for slapping an occupying soldier, then you have this whole thing with her cousin Mohammad, who, he’s shot in the head, left in a coma. Has skull surgery, as you mentioned. But then the Israeli military claims that all this happened because he fell off his bike. And on top of that ludicrous claim, you have Western media outlets taking that seriously. I’m wondering if you could comment on that and tell us what happened there.

ALI ABUNIMAH: Yeah. What happened was that, you know, after this- you really have to go into a little bit of the history to understand the Israeli military and political psyche here. Because Ahed Tamimi was not arrested immediately after slapping the soldier. She was only arrested days later when the video went viral, and there were demands from the Israeli public saying how can we let a teenage Palestinian girl humiliate one of our brave soldiers. So she was arrested to appease this extreme right-wing anti-Palestinian sentiment within Israel, so the politicians ordered that.

But it immediately became an international embarrassment, because the world saw it very differently from the Israeli public. The world saw a teenage girl resisting heavily armed occupation forces. Then the story of Mohammad Tamimi came out. That became an embarrassment for Israel because, you know, this is a state or an entity that is shooting children in the face. And so they arrested him. And you know, after the images of his badly-deformed head went viral around the world, they arrested him, beat him, and forced him to claim that he’d fallen off his bicycle. Totally ludicrous, because there was all the medical evidence, including the the x-rays and the surgeon’s reports and everything, which were published showing this bullet inside his brain. So it’s just the most thuggish, crude tactics.

Now, so that was the point of arresting Mohammad Tamimi, and then using this confession to try to discredit this 15-year-old boy who they’d shot in the head. But this is the Israeli occupation. This is how it works and what it does.

AARON MATE: Right. And so what’s amazing is to see Western journalists, how they portray all this. So for example, in the BBC story out on Ahed Tamimi’s release, the first, the headline is: “Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian viral slap video teenager, freed in Israel.” The first sentence is: “A Palestinian teenager who was filmed assaulting an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank has been freed after eight months in jail.” So, “filmed assaulting an Israeli soldier.” That’s the, that to them is the top line of this whole story. And further on, they mentioned the, the incident with her cousin Mohammad. But then they give credence to the Israeli story. They say the Israeli military also later contested the cause of Mohammed’s head injury, saying last month the boy had told interrogators he sustained it from falling off a bike. And they don’t weigh in on the veracity of that claim.

And this follows many others. I’m going to read you a few more headlines. So you have this new story from The New York Times, its headline: “Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian teenager who slapped Israeli soldier, is released from jail.” And it includes this line. “Ms. Tamimi was arrested in December, days after she was seen on video kicking, hitting, punching, and shoving a heavily-armed Israeli soldier at the entrance to her family home.” And I saw a tweet from the great Professor As’ad Abukhalil, who said that the New York Times is portraying her as some sort of Jean Claude Van Damme action hero. It’s just this ridiculous way to describe a Palestinian teenager, and in the face of a heavily-armed Israeli soldier.

ALI ABUNIMAH: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting, because the typical way that this mainstream Western media reports on Israel’s violence against Palestinians is always in this he-said she-said manner where, you know, the Palestinians say this and the Israeli army says that. Even when there is incontrovertible evidence that allows journalists to say, well, the Israeli army says this. But the evidence shows that they’re lying. The evidence shows that actually the boy was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and we can go and talk to the surgeons who removed the bullet from his head. We can look at the x-rays and the MRI scans which were published et cetera.

Even when there’s evidence they treat it as though it’s unknowable. And you have to contrast that with how the same media covers, for example, Syria, where any claim taken by groups opposed to the government is taken as incontrovertible fact. The BBC routinely reports that as uncontested. We’ve seen that time and again. And we’ve also seen that with an issue you’ve covered brilliantly, Aaron, which is Russia, where any unsubstantiated claim gets headline treatment.

Actual evidence of Israel’s abuses is rarely reported, and that there are few situations where there is more evidence. Human rights groups, U.N. organizations, media themselves have been documenting this for decades. But then it always ends up being reduced to these unknowable he-said she-said claims.

AARON MATE: All right. So we’ll pause there and come back in part two, where we’ll talk about the latest in Gaza, where Palestinians every week continue to come out to protest the Israeli besiegement of their territory, and continue to get shot down by Israeli snipers. Three more killed on Friday. My guest is Ali Abunimah. He is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada. His latest book is The Battle for Justice in Palestine.

 

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US War On ISIS Is The Biggest Lie Since The 2003 Iraq Invasion: Here’s The Proof

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On November 13, 2017, the BBC dropped a bombshell report that exposed how the U.S. cut a secret deal with “hundreds” of ISIS fighters and their families to leave the Syrian city of Raqqa under the “gaze of the U.S. and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city.” The convoys reportedly included some of ISIS’ “most notorious” members, as well as its foreign fighters and tonnes of weapons and ammunition.

Almost a month later, Reuters reported that a high-level defector from Kurdish-led forces in Syria had revealed that the number of ISIS fighters given safe passage by the U.S.-led coalition was actually in the thousands, not hundreds. This account was seconded by a security official in Turkey despite the fact that Turkey and the Kurdish militia do not typically see eye to eye).

Agreement was reached for the terrorists to leave, about 4,000 people, them and their families, the defector said, as quoted by Reuters, adding that all but about 500 were fighters.

The defector also noted that the fighters were headed toward Deir ez-Zor, Syria’s most oil-rich region. The U.S. had been eager to bomb Deir ez-Zor for some time prior to the deal, and allowing ISIS safe passage to get there would merely give them the pretext to do so. In June of this year, regional outlet Al-Masdar released a video that appeared to show convoys of ISIS fighters leaving Raqqa, as well, though the media paid very little attention to this.

All of this begs the question: If the U.S. allowed 4,000 ISIS fighters to leave Raqqa, who on earth were they bombing during their brutal siege? Donald Trump’s illegal air campaign killed well over 1,800 civilians and brought the city to ruin — to the point that Russia accused the U.S. of wiping Raqqa “off the face of the earth.” The U.S. government knew ISIS was leaving the city safely but kept on bombing it into devastation, anyway.

Raqqa Secret Deal Barely Scratches the Surface

Now that we know the U.S. is amenable to granting ISIS fighters safe passage, ISIS’ ability to take over huge swaths of Iraq and Syria in the first place start to make a bit more sense. In June 2014, ISIS effortlessly took the strategic oil-rich cities of Mosul and Baiji and almost made it as far as Baghdad. The U.S. sat on its hands and did nothing the entire time, even as the militants took massive loads of American military equipment as spoils and brandished it all over social media. While ISIS was flaunting its activities untouched by the American military in Iraq, the U.S. was busy launching drone strikes in Pakistan, instead.

Why would the Obama administration prioritize air strikes in a country that overwhelmingly disapproves of them when it could have prevented ISIS from setting up a mini-state in Iraq at the same time?

Over the last few years, we have seen this similar pattern occur over and over again. When it came to Obama’s grand offensive to retake Mosul in 2016, reports also began emerging that the U.S. was granting safe passage for ISIS fighters to move from Mosul into Raqqa. Even if the U.S. hadn’t cut a formal deal with ISIS on this particular occasion, the reality on the ground was that the U.S. was allowing ISIS fighters to make their way into Syria from Mosul and doing little to stop them regardless. As Anti-Media documented at the time:

According to Army Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati, as reported by anti-Russian newspaper, the Guardian, ISIS militants are already fleeing Mosul to Syria. This was further confirmed by the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, who said that if ISIS were forced out of Mosul, they would likely go on to Syria.”

Why weren’t they striking these traveling ISIS fighters before they made it to Syria? When viewed in its recent historical context and with the most recent reports in mind, the answer to that question should be clear.

The U.S. Has Also Provided ISIS With Direct Air Support

The Syrian government and its allies are the most heavily engaged entities fighting ISIS inside Syria – not the U.S. military (or its allies). Yet the U.S. military has struck these pro-government forces directly multiple times over the last year, even when these troops have proven to be very effective against the jihadist group.

In September 2016, the U.S.-led coalition launched a barrage of airstrikes at Syrian government troops who were fending off the ISIS component of Deir ez-Zor at the time. Russia accused the U.S. coalition of providing air cover for ISIS because the terror group used the coalition strike to launch an offensive of their own. Over 60 Syrian soldiers died as a result of this illegal act of war, but no one was held accountable.

It has also been speculated that U.S. President Donald Trump’s Syria strike in April paved the way for an ISIS offensive, as well.

ISIS Took Advantage of U.S. Weapons Transfers

So far, we know that ISIS has received safe passage from the U.S. on at least one occasion and that the terror group has also received free air support on a number of other occasions. We also know the U.S. either directly or indirectly allowed ISIS to gain territory in the first place only to provide the pretext for a military intervention.

But wait, it gets even better. Just this month, a report conducted by the U.K.-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR) group, which analyzed 40,000 items its investigators recovered along ISIS’ front lines between July 2014 and November 2017, found that the terror group was able to successfully arm itself by taking advantage of U.S. weapons transfers between Washington and its other allies in Syria. ISIS even garnered some of the more powerful anti-tank missiles through the CIA’s covert arms program.

“International weapon supplies to factions in the Syrian conflict have significantly augmented the quantity and quality of weapons available to IS forces — in numbers far beyond those that would have been available to the group through battlefield capture alone,” the report said.

The U.S. didn’t need to wait for an official report for this horrifying development to come to light. As far back as October 2012, the New York Times reported the following:

“[M]ost of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster…” [emphasis added]

Even if the U.S. had zero control over ISIS and the mayhem it has exacted over Iraq, Syria, and beyond — and was genuine in its bid to rid the world of its ideology and the horror the terror group has unleashed — there is one issue yet to be discussed: ISIS’ existence.

US Created Conditions for ISIS to Exist

ISIS evolved out of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which only became a formidable fighting force after the U.S. invaded in 2003. This was in part due to the Bush administration’s decision to fire close to 400,000 servicemen in Iraq, simply because of their affiliation with Saddam Hussein’s secular Baathist party. Some of these disgruntled servicemen now hold senior ISIS positions and are responsible for the terror group’s success.

History clearly demonstrates that al-Qaeda only exists in the first place because the U.S. actively trained, funded, and armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan as a means of bogging the Soviet empire down into a quagmire. The Independent even ran a story on Osama bin Laden at the time, portraying him as a heroic freedom fighter and “anti-Soviet warrior.”

However, since 9/11, the U.S. made a specific point of making aiding and providing material support to al-Qaeda and its affiliated organizations a crime under U.S. law. Yet the U.S. has openly aided Syria’s al-Qaeda branch, as well as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, and now we have more than enough formal proof that the U.S. has knowingly continued a foreign policy strategy that essentially provided all manner of material support to ISIS, one of the most deadly terror groups in recent history, as well.

* * *

It’s time for someone to be held accountable. There is a case to be made against the U.S. for some very serious criminal behavior here, and if anyone is serious about defeating “radical Islamic terror,” they should start by launching a court action against the U.S. government for its die-hard support for terrorism in the Middle East and beyond.

Christians in Jerusalem Want Jews to Stop Spitting on Them

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A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window.

Haaretz

A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face.

The clergyman preferred not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot.

On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop’s 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student.

Both were questioned by police and the yeshiva student will be brought to trial. The Jerusalem District Court has meanwhile banned the student from approaching the Old City for 75 days.

But the Armenians are far from satisfied by the police action and say this sort of thing has been going on for years. Archbishop Nourhan Manougian says he expects the education minister to say something.

“When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don’t they take harsher measures?” he asks.

According to Daniel Rossing, former adviser to the Religious Affairs Ministry on Christian affairs and director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue, there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, “as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country.”

Rossing says there are certain common characeristics from the point of view of time and location to the incidents. He points to the fact that there are more incidents in areas where Jews and Christians mingle, such as the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the Old City and the Jaffa Gate.

There are an increased number at certain times of year, such as during the Purim holiday.” I know Christians who lock themselves indoors during the entire Purim holiday,” he says.

Former adviser to the mayor on Christian affairs, Shmuel Evyatar, describes the situation as “a huge disgrace.” He says most of the instigators are yeshiva students studying in the Old City who view the Christian religion with disdain.

“I’m sure the phenomenon would end as soon as rabbis and well-known educators denounce it. In practice, rabbis of yeshivas ignore or even encourage it,” he says.

Evyatar says he himself was spat at while walking with a Serbian bishop in the Jewish quarter, near his home. “A group of yeshiva students spat at us and their teacher just stood by and watched.”

Jerusalem municipal officials said they are aware of the problem but it has to be dealt with by the police. Shmuel Ben-Ruby, the police spokesman, said they had only two complaints from Christians in the past two years. He said that, in both cases, the culprits were caught and punished.

He said the police deploy an inordinately high number of patrols and special technology in the Old City and its surroundings in an attempt to keep order.

Jews Call for Destruction Of Christianity During Greek Orthodox Pentecost Prayer in Jerusalem

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jesus christ

Jewish demonstrators shouted ‘We will tear down this abomination, you are evil. The Jewish people lives forever! King David lives forever! May the name of your so-called God be blotted out forever…’

‘It hurts me that they are letting these goyyim come here. It hurts me that these evil men, who have oppressed the Jews throughout history, are being allowed to contaminate our holy sites…’

‘The goyyim got their way this time, but they won’t the next time. King David lives forever!  The people of Israel lives forever!..’

Haaretz

Religious tensions roiled anew on Mount Zion this week when police detained five of some dozens of enraged Jewish extremists who attempted to disrupt Pentecostal prayers held by hundreds of Greek Orthodox worshipers.

As the Greek Orthodox procession made its way on Monday to the compound that houses the Cenacle, the presumed site of the Room of the Last Supper, and the presumed Tomb of King David, the Jewish demonstrators with flowing ear locks and large knitted yarmulkes screamed, booed and blew shofars at the worshipers.

As the procession made its way up the narrow stairs to the Cenacle, Jewish demonstrators, held back by Border Police and riot control teams, could be heard shouting:  “We will tear down this abomination,” and, “you are evil.”

The procession was led by kuwwas, the traditional guardians of Christian holiness, wearing crimson fez-like hats. They pounded wooden staffs on the ancient stone walkways to make way for the bishop, the head of the local church.

Resplendent in heavy white robes embroidered in gold threat, the bishop was followed by scores of priests and religious officials, all dressed in long back head gear, and hundreds of pilgrims, all chanting liturgies in Greek.

At the height of the ceremony, a small group from the Greek Orthodox, led by the bishop, came down the stairs and entered the Tomb of King David, escorted by the police.

The Jewish protestors grew more frenzied.  “The Jewish people lives forever!” King David lives forever!” one screamed.  “May the name of your so-called God be blotted out forever,” cursed another. “Nazi,” someone screamed at the police. Seemingly oblivious to the crowd, the Greek Orthodox worshipers stayed in the Tomb only a few moments then went back up the stairs.

 A man dressed in ultra-Orthodox garb, who would only give his name as “Tzvi from Jerusalem,” stood by with tears in his eyes.

“It hurts me that they are letting these goyyim (non-Jews) come here,” he said. “It hurts me that these evil men, who have oppressed the Jews throughout history, are being allowed to contaminate our holy sites.  And it hurts me even more that the police, led by our Jewish government, are allowing them to do so.”

Scenes like this occur often on Mount Zion. The 30-acre mountain that spreads out to the west from the Zion Gate holds a jumble of Christian churches from many different denominations, abandoned Muslim shrines, active and abandoned Jewish, Christian and Muslim cemeteries, and archaeological digs, along remnants of the War of Independence and the Six-Day War.

It is also home to artists and sculptors, including the widow of sculptor David Palombo, who designed the gates to the Knesset; banquet halls and the somber Chamber of the Holocaust, Israel’s first national Holocaust museum, which predates Yad Vashem by several years.

Across the conquests though the centuries, by Christians, Muslims, British, and, most recently, by Israel, members of various religious faiths have lived here together, sometimes in peace, at times in war, and most often according to carefully-set arrangements between them.

Mount Zion was central to Israeli national and religious observance following the War of Independence, because it was the only site in East Jerusalem held by Israel and because it offered views into the Old City and its sacred sites, held off-limits by the Jordanians to Jews and Israelis. The Mount was subsequently neglected after the Six-Day War, when the Old City was returned to Israeli control.

But in recent years, various Jewish groups have tried to reclaim the centrality of Mount Zion. Fueled by religious zealotry, some of them are hill-top youth prevented by  security authorities from being in the West Bank, and have instead made Mount Zion their home.

Tensions have increased particularly since a visit by Pope Francis in 2014, when rumors circulated that Israel intends to cede parts of Mount Zion, including David’s Tomb, to the Vatican and other Christian institutions.

Israeli officials have repeatedly denied these rumors.  The extremists aren’t convinced, though.

“There are Jews who would sell away that that is most precious to the Jewish people,” says one of the young activists. “They have forgotten what it means to be Jewish. To be proud and defend the land. We will be the defenders.”

Part of the Jewish extremists’ plan of defense has included defacing churches and their property, desecrating Christian cemeteries, and spitting on and verbally accosting priests and monks.

According to activists from “Window on Mount Zion,” a project sponsored by the Jerusalem Intercultural Center and Search for Common Ground, there has been relative calm over the past few months, thanks in part to police station established on Mount Zion last year.

According to various agreements, Christians are entitled to observe communal worship in the Cenacle five times a year, including the Pentecost. For individual prayer, the room is open to all. King David’s Tomb, which has unofficially been turned into a synagogue, is open for Jewish communal and individual prayer at all times.

This week, the trouble began well before the Greek Orthodox observance. There are three observances of Pentecost in Jerusalem, and the Armenians celebrated theirs on Sunday afternoon.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, several Jewish extremists barricaded themselves in David’s Tomb, apparently mistakenly believing the Armenians would be granted the right to enter David’s Tomb – which, in fact, is part only of the Greek Orthodox tradition. They protesters were removed, detained, and issued restraining orders banning them from the site.

But others returned early on Monday morning and tried once again to take control over the site, and by 7 A.M., dozens had already gathered near the scene. In carefully choreographed arrangements, police allowed early morning Jewish prayers on Monday morning, then closed the tomb to visitors until after the Greek Orthodox prayer and set up security perimeters.

In prior coordination with the police, Rabbi Aaron Yitzhak Stern from Bnei Brak, unofficially appointed by adherents as the “Rabbi of Mount Zion,” removed the Torah scrolls from David’s Tomb then returned them after the Christians had concluded their prayers. Also in coordination with police, the Greek worshipers did not bring any Christian symbols, icons, or incense into the Tomb.

Some two dozen volunteers from Window on Mount Zion were visibly present in their distinctive yellow vests. Project coordinator Merav Horowitz-Stein said they provided “another set of eyes, and individuals who can try to reason with the extremists from any side and explain the situation to the tourists.”

Police acknowledged that the volunteers, who tried to engage the protestors in discussion and explain the commotion to foreigners, played a crucial role in maintaining the relative calm.

In Christian belief, Pentecost marks the fiftieth day after the Last Supper, on which the Holy Spirit entered each of the Holy Apostles. Teaching them to speak in foreign languages, the Spirit instructed the Apostles to spread the world of Christianity throughout the world. To many, the holiday thus marks the actual founding of the Christian Church.

“The tradition of King David and the psalms is particularly significant to the Greek Orthodox,” Yisca Harani, an expert in Christianity from the Yad Ben Tzvi Institute, explains to Haaretz. They come to the tomb as pilgrims.”

Harani says the Pentecost observance has much in common with the Jewish holiday of Shavu’ot. “There is a clear parallel between the way that the Jews believe they received the Torah from Moses from Mount Sinai and the way Christians believe that the Holy Spirit came down to the apostles. And both are based on the number fifty.

“Observances like this provide an opportunity and a demand from the State of Israel to truly provide freedom of worship and equality for all,” Harani says.

Several police officials noted with satisfaction that “overall, the events passed without incident” and that the police had been able to find a “balance between the right to protest and the lack of any right to violently disrupt anyone else’s right to prayer.”

But as the crowds dispersed, one of the protesters made it clear that he and fellow demonstrators had no intention of backing down.

‘The goyyim got their way this time. But they won’t the next time. King David lives forever!  The people of Israel lives forever!’

NATO Is a Goldmine for US Weapons’ Industries

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Countries of the NATO military alliance have been ordered by President Trump to increase their spending on weapons, and the reasons for his insistence they do so are becoming clearer. It’s got nothing to do with any defence rationale, because, after all, the Secretary General of the US-NATO military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, has admitted that “we don’t see any imminent threat against any NATO ally” and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute recorded in its 2018 World Report that “at $66.3 billion, Russia’s military spending in 2017 was 20 per cent lower than in 2016.”Even Radio Free Europe, the US government’s anti-Russia broadcaster, records that Russia has reduced its defence spending.

There is demonstrably no threat whatever to any NATO country by Russia, but this is considered irrelevant in the context of US arms’ sales, which are flourishing and being encouraged to increase and multiply.

On July 12, the second and final day of the recent US-NATO meeting, Reuters reported Trump as saying that “the United States makes by far the best military equipment in the world: the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns, the best everything.”  He went on “to list the top US arms makers, Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp by name.”

On July 11 the Nasdaq Stock Exchange listed the stock price of Lockheed Martin at $305.68.  The day after Trump’s speech, it increased to $318.37.

On July 11 the Nasdaq Stock Exchange listed the stock price of Boeing at $340.50.  The day after Trump’s speech, it increased to $350.79.

On July 11 the New York Stock Exchange listed the stock price of Northrop Grumman (it doesn’t appear on Nasdaq) at $311.71.  The day after Trump’s speech, it increased to $321.73.

General Dynamics, another major US weapons producer, might not be too pleased, however, because its stock price rose only slightly, from $191.51 to $192.74.  Nor might Raytheon, the maker of the Patriot missile system which Washington is selling all over the world, because its stock went up by a modest five dollars, from $194.03 to $199.75.  Perhaps they will be named by Trump the next time he makes a speech telling his country’s bemused allies to buy US weapons.

Trump also declared that “We have many wealthy countries with us today [July 12 at the NATO Conference] but we have some that aren’t so wealthy and they did ask me if they could buy the military equipment, and could I help them out, and we will help them out a little bit,” which made it clear that poorer countries that want to buy American weapons will probably not have to put cash down for their purchases. So it wasn’t altogether surprising that the stock prices of the three arms manufacturers named by Trump all rose by over ten dollars.

To further boost this bonanza, the State Department did its best to make US arms sales even easier by enabling weapons manufacturers to avoid the well-constructed checks and balances that had been in place to ensure that at least a few legal, moral and economic constraints would be observed when various disreputable regimes queued up to buy American weapons.

But these regulations no longer apply, because on July 13 the State Department announced new measures to “fast-track government approval of proposals from defense and aerospace companies” which action was warmly welcomed by the President of the US Chamber of Commerce Defence and Aerospace Export Council, Keith Webster, who is “looking forward to continued collaboration with the White House on initiatives that further expand international opportunities for the defense and aerospace industries.”

There was yet more boosting by Lt-General Charles Hooper, Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, who declared at the Farnborough International Air Show on July 18 that “Defense exports are good for our national security, they’re good for our foreign policy. And they’re good for our economic security.”  He then proposed that his agency cut the transportation fee charged to foreign military sales clients, which would be a major stimulant for sales of “the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns” so valued by Mr Trump. Obviously a devoted follower of his President, the General followed the Trump line with dedication by reminding the media that “as the administration and our leadership has said, economic security is national security.”  This man just might go places in Trump World.

But he won’t go as far as the arms manufacturers, whose future growth and profits are assured under Trump and the Washington Deep State, which is defined as “military, intelligence and government officials who try to secretly manipulate government policy.”  US weapons producers have realised, as said so presciently two thousand years ago by the Roman statesman, Cicero, that “the sinews of war are infinite money,” and their contentment will continue to grow in synchrony with their financial dividends.

Voice of America joined the chorus of reportage on July 12 and observed that “with Thursday’s renewed pledge by NATO countries to meet defense spending goals, some of the biggest beneficiaries could be US weapons manufacturers, which annually already export billions of dollars worth of arms across the globe.”

Within European NATO, the biggest spenders on US arms, thus far, are Poland, Romania, Britain and Greece, and the amounts involved are colossal.  Poland, whose economy is booming, has signed an agreement to buy Patriot missile systems for $4.75 billion, adding to the purchase of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles for $200 million, Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles, costing $250 million, and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems for the same amount. Delivery of its 48 F-16 multi-role strike aircraft ($4.7 billion) began in 2006, and Warsaw has proved a loyal customer ever since.  Who knows what exotic new piece of US hardware will be ordered as a result of Mr Trump’s encouragement?

Romania, a country with only 750 kilometres of motorway (tiny Belgium has 1,700 km), has been seeking World Bank assistance for its road projects but is unlikely to benefit because it is so gravely corrupt. This has not stopped it purchasing US artillery rocket systems for $1.25 billion and Patriot missiles for a colossal $3.9 billion, following-on from construction in May 2016 of a US Aegis missile station, at Washington’s expense.  It forms part of the US-NATO encirclement of Russia, and its missiles are to be operational this year.

The message for European NATO is that the US is pulling out all stops to sell weapons, and that although, for example, “about 84% of the UK’s total arms imports come from the United States”, there is room for improvement.  Slovakia is buying $150 millions’ worth of helicopters and paying a satisfying $2.91 billion for F-16 fighters, but other NATO countries appear to have been less disposed to purchase more of “the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns” that Mr Trump has on offer.

The mine of NATO gold is there for exploitation, and following Trump’s enthusiastic encouragement of his arms’ manufacturers it seems that extraction will be effective. The US Military-Industrial Complex stands to gain handsomely from its President’s campaign to boost the quantities of weapons in the world.

The US Enables Deliberate Saudi Attacks on Civilian Targets in Yemen

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Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

UNICEF reports on the latest Saudi coalition attack on a water system in Saada. This is the third time that the same site has been bombed:

UNICEF deplores in the strongest terms yet another attack on vital and lifesaving water systems in Yemen.

A large water facility in Sa’ada, northwest of the country, came under attack this week. This is the third such attack on the same facility. More than half of the project is now damaged, cutting off 10,500 people from safe drinking water.

Continuous attacks on water systems in Yemen are cutting off children and their families from water; increasing the likelihood of water-borne diseases spreading in the war-torn country.

The Saudi coalition deliberately attacks civilian targets in Yemen. Just as they struck the MSF-run cholera treatment center once and then blew it up again after it had been rebuilt, they have repeatedly attacked this vital infrastructure needed to provide clean drinking water to Yemeni civilians in Saada. This is the second time the coalition has struck this site this year. I wrote about the previous attack back in April:

The destruction of infrastructure needed to provide clean drinking water for civilians is clearly a violation of international law, and the fact that the same system has been targeted more than once should put to rest the idea that the coalition strikes these targets only by accident. Just as it has systematically and deliberately attacked food production and distribution inside Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition repeatedly strikes at the infrastructure that the population needs for water and sewage treatment.

The coalition is repeatedly striking at the medical facilities and infrastructure needed to prevent the spread of cholera in a country suffering from the worst modern cholera epidemic on record. There have already been well over a million cases, and the deteriorating conditions in the country could cause that number spike upwards. The coalition obviously carries out these attacks on purpose, and they keep doing it because they are never held accountable for their crimes. The Saudis and their allies use both starvation and disease as weapons against the civilian population of Yemen in a policy of cruel collective punishment. The U.S. continues to provide unstinting support to the coalition campaign and makes attacks like this possible. Congress needs to cut off all U.S. support for the war on Yemen now, and every day that U.S. involvement continues our government is complicit in crimes like the one committed against these civilians in Saada.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.

In intercepting boat bound for Gaza and seizing 22 aboard, israel (Apartheid State) violated int’l law and journalists’ rights

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Yesterday afternoon Israel stopped the “Al Awda,” the lead of two boats of the Freedom Flotilla in international waters as it sailed toward Gaza and forced it to the Israeli port of Ashdod and arrested 22 people comprising crew and passengers, some of them journalists. The Al Awda is a Norwegian flagged fishing boat. The second boat is scheduled to arrive in Gaza in another day or so. This statement was released today by the Freedom Flotilla.

Two people from Al Awda (The Return) have been released, but most of the crew and participants are still in unlawful detention at Givon prison in Israel. We are still gravely concerned for their safety and well-being as we had no contact with most of them as of 14:00 CEST today. We continue to demand that our boat and the medical supplies on board reach their rightful recipients, Palestinian civil society in Gaza.

Crew member Zohar Chamberlain Regev (interviewed by Jonathan Ofir)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) claim that the capture of our vessel happened ‘without exceptional incident’, eye-witness Zohar Chamberlain Regev reports that at the time of boarding: “People on board were tasered and hit by masked IOF soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception.” We urgently need to know the details of who was injured and how seriously, and what treatment they are receiving, if any. A military attack on a civilian vessel is a violent act and a violation of international law. Taking 22 people from international waters to a country which is not their destination constitutes an act of kidnapping, which is also unlawful under the international Convention of the Law of Sea.

From the time we lost contact around 13:15 local time on Sunday, we know that the IOF blocked all communication signals, including satellite phones. We are very concerned about this violation of journalists’ right to report freely and we remain gravely concerned about their ability to keep their professional equipment and their storage media. As Australian journalist Chris Graham recently observed, “Bad things happen when good people stay silent, as history well records. But horrendous things happen when media are prevented from scrutinizing the actions of a state.”

Two of our participants, Zohar Chamberlain Regev and Yonatan Shapira, Israeli citizens, have been charged with attempting to enter Gaza and conspiracy to commit a crime, and were released on bail last night.  Boat leader, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, reports seeing blood on the deck of the Al Awda as the last participants were being dragged off the ship.

In comparison with the violence routinely directed at Palestinian civilians, including at fishers from Gaza, and the violent capture of Palestinian fishing boats, yesterday’s seizure and kidnapping may not be the most serious of Israeli crimes. What these violents acts have in common is that there is no accountability demanded by other governments and Israel continues to enjoy total impunity.

We call on national governments, civil society and international organizations to demand that Israeli authorities immediately release our boat so that we can deliver our much-needed medical supplies on  Al Awda and the fishing boat itself to the rightful recipients in Gaza. Detailed specification of our exact cargo on board are available on request.

Israel’s capture of the lead boat in this Gaza-bound flotilla may seem like a predictable outcome to some, but that doesn’t make it any less violent nor any less illegal. Our second boat
Freedom will follow Al Awda within a day or two, and the Freedom Flotilla will continue until the blockade ends and Palestinians of Gaza regain their full freedom of movement.

Details about detainees still in prison, including their last videos and personal statements, can be found on our website and Facebook pages.

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