Political Jesus

PEPE ESCOBAR • DECEMBER 23, 2020

Hieronymus Bosch, The Adoration of the Magi: detail featuring the splendid African Balthasar and, partially naked, at the entrance of the hut, the Anti-Christ.

Let’s hit the road in the search for the real Jesus.

Galilee, Year 27: baptized by an itinerant preacher, John the Baptist. That’s when the story really begins. We know virtually nothing of his life till then.

Galilee is ruled by shabby client kings of the Roman empire – first Herod, then his son Herod Antipas. Jesus only enters imperial jurisdiction later, when he moves to Judaea, a Roman province since Year 6.

Galilee is all about agricultural and fishing land, surrounded by way more sophisticated Greeks and Phoenicians. Jesus grows up in a context of simple peasant life; increasing taxes; population explosion; and then non-stop fragmentation of peasant land, causing the proverbial pressures on traditional family life.

Social oppression inevitably had to engender resistance – in the form of budding peasant unrest. Talk about quite fertile ground for the proliferation of charismatic spiritual leaders.

Yet who was Jesus The Man, really? A Jewish holy man? A prophet? A magician? A miracle man? A peasant leader? A revolutionary? Prefiguring Walt Withman, he did “contain multitudes”. He was indeed all things to all men.

What we seem to know for sure is that he had charisma in spades – and exuded natural authority.

The Synoptic Gospels point to problems with Mom and his brothers. Yet he never abandoned his followers – those twelve specials, all from very humble backgrounds, except Matthew (a tax collector).

He lived on the (dusty) road – full time, and that was not exactly comfortable. He was at ease with everyone – prostitutes included.

As a preacher, he was a master of P.R. He talked in parables – easily grasped by small agricultural communities. That’s where he felt really at home.

So Jesus was a rural, not urban, phenomenon. He specially appealed to those who were ill – mentally and physically. He built up a solid reputation as a healer: all those miracle cures – especially exorcisms. And the whole lot interpreted as a sign of holiness.

Jesus was a Palestinian Jew. His followers were overwhelmingly Jews – those peasants destabilized by heavy taxation of their lands and ingloriously clashing with the corruption of Herod’s political machine.

Jesus focused on the imminence of God’s kingdom. But what did he really mean? The Gospels don’t make it easier. Much of his preaching is inclusive. Yet sometimes he would refer to a “Last Judgment” in which the wicked will be punished and the good will be rewarded.

Essentially, he was a millenarian prophet. But as much as he was striving for moral renewal, he was delivering a social message – where the “kingdom” to come represented the Triumph of the Outcast. What that really mean, in practice, was possibly a renewal of family and village community life.

Whatever he was really up to, the Powers That Be feared Jesus. After all he was way too popular. And even if he did not advise armed resistance, Power could not but be very worried by a charismatic leader with miraculous attributes dazzling the crowds.

Jesus may have sensed he was a target. And that’s what may have provoked the move to Judaea – possibly in Year 30. And then to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem may have been the Holy Grail. The apex of his mission – as he finally sensed he was ready to confront the powers behind the Temple.

He made a Jerusalem entrance that was nothing short of epic, riding a donkey – as if fulfilling a prophecy (Zechariah) that “a king” would enter Jerusalem on a donkey. In Matthew, the crowds actually call him “Son of David”.

Jerusalem was buzzing with people getting together for Passover. And last but not least, Roman governor Pontius Pilate and his troops were also in town, freshly arrived from Caesarea – the Roman HQ in the province – and obsessed with maintaining order.

Enter Caiaphas, the high priest: a canny, vastly experienced political operator, who managed for years to get the support of the Jews while placating his Roman overlords.

Now imagine the scene – worthy of a Scorsese epic: an outsider, itinerant preacher from Galilee, arriving in the mean streets with his posse, all speaking in weird accents, with the crowds shouting he may be the Messiah.

And then, the ultimate set piece: he enters the Temple, by himself, and overthrows the tables of the moneylenders. What did he really want?

That’s Political Jesus 1 and 2.

1. To graphically stress the end of the old order – Temple included – and the coming of the “new kingdom”.

2. To express – politically – the growing popular revolt against the ruling elite.

And by a simple twist of fate, that’s when he sealed his destiny.

Blowback was instantaneous. The Jewish priests had to be placated. They feared Roman retaliation. And then Caiaphas saw his opening, telling them – according to the Gospel by John – “it is better for one man to die for the people”.

And that’s how Jesus the Outsider was used as only a pawn in their game to maintain order in Jerusalem.

He was now free to enter History as a larger than life Martyr, Savior, and Myth.

على الهواء مباشرة…المقاومة الفلسطينية تطلق صواريخ مناورات “الركن الشديد”

 الميادين نت

الناطق باسم سرايا القدس يقول إن المقاومة الفلسطينية هي صمام الأمان للحفاظ على القضية الفلسطينية، ويعلن اطلاق مناورة “الركن الشديد” في غزة.

انطلاق مناورة
سيتخلل المناورة انتشار لعناصر المقاومة وأجهزة أمنية وشرطية

أطلقت المقاومة الفلسطينية رشقات صاروخية باتجاه بحر غزة، كما أطلقت طائرات أبابيل المسيّرة في إطار المناورة التي تحاكي تهديدات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.

وإيذاناً ببدء المناورة أطلقت المقاومة الفلسطينية رشقات صاروخية باتجاه بحر غزة، كما أطلقت طائرات أبابيل المسيّرة في إطار المناورة التي تحاكي تهديدات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.

 سيتخلل المناورة انتشار لعناصر المقاومة وأجهزة أمنية وشرطية

أطلقت المقاومة الفلسطينية رشقات صاروخية باتجاه بحر غزة، كما أطلقت طائرات أبابيل المسيّرة في إطار المناورة التي تحاكي تهديدات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.

وإيذاناً ببدء المناورة أطلقت المقاومة الفلسطينية رشقات صاروخية باتجاه بحر غزة، كما أطلقت طائرات أبابيل المسيّرة في إطار المناورة التي تحاكي تهديدات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.

كذلك سيتخلل المناورة انتشار لعناصر المقاومة وأجهزة أمنية وشرطية، وحركة نشطة لمركبات اسعاف والدفاع المدنيّ وامن والشرطة في جميع المحافظات.

وأعلنت فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية اليوم الثلاثاء إطلاق مناورة “الركن الشديد” في غزة.

وانطلقت رشقات صواريخ على الهواء مباشرة وأمام وسائل الإعلام، في وقتٍ قال فيه مراسل الميادين في غزة إن طائرات استطلاع تابعة للمقاومة جابت سماء منطقة المناورات.

وقال الناطق باسم “سرايا القدس” أبو حمزة إن “المقاومة الفلسطينية ما زالت على عهدها في مواصلة طريق الجهاد، وهي صمام الأمان للحفاظ على القضية الفلسطينية”.

أبو حمزة أشار إلى أن “هذه المناورات الدفاعية هي تأكيد على جهوزية المقاومة للدفاع عن شعبنا، وأضاف أن “سلاحنا حاضر وقرارنا موحّد في خوض أيّ مواجهة للدفاع عن شعبنا، وأن المناورات المشتركة تعبر بوضوح عن وحدة قرارنا”.

وقال  أبو حمزة إن “المقاومة اليوم هي أقوى وأصلب وأكثر قدرة على مواجهة العدو وردعه، و لن تسمح للعدو بفرض قواعد اشتباك لا ترضاها”.

وعن التطبيع مع الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، أشار أبو حمزة إلى أن “المطبعون وأذناب الاحتلال إلى مزابل التاريخ وستظل فلسطين قضية العرب والمسلمين”.

وفي السياق، قال مراسل الميادين في غزة إن طائرات استطلاع تابعة للمقاومة تجوب سماء منطقة مناورات “الركن الشديد”.

أخبار ذات صلة

Turkey pivots to the center of The New Great Game

Turkey pivots to the center of The New Great Game

December 28, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

When it comes to sowing – and profiting – from division, Erdogan’s Turkey is quite the superstar.

Under the delightfully named Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the Trump administration duly slapped sanctions on Ankara for daring to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defence systems. The sanctions focused on Turkey’s defence procurement agency, the SSB.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s response was swift: Ankara won’t back down – and it is in fact mulling how to respond.

The European poodles inevitably had to provide the follow-up. So after the proverbial, interminable debate in Brussels, they settled for “limited” sanctions – adding a further list for a summit in March 2021. Yet these sanctions actually focus on as-yet unidentified individuals involved in offshore drilling in Cyprus and Greece. They have nothing to do with S-400s.

What the EU has come up with is in fact a very ambitious, global human-rights sanctions regime modeled after the US’s Magnitsky Act. That implies travel bans and asset freezes of people unilaterally considered responsible for genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings and crimes against humanity.

Turkey, in this case, is just a guinea pig. The EU always hesitates mightily when it comes to sanctioning a NATO member. What the Eurocrats in Brussels really want is an extra, powerful tool to harass mostly China and Russia.

Our jihadis, sorry, “moderate rebels”

What’s fascinating is that Ankara under Erdogan always seems to be exhibiting a sort of “devil may care” attitude.

Take the seemingly insoluble situation in the Idlib cauldron in northwest Syria. Jabhat al-Nusra – a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria – honchos are now involved in “secret” negotiations with Turkish-backed armed gangs, such as Ahrar al-Sharqiya, right in front of Turkish officials. The objective: to boost the number of jihadis concentrated in certain key areas. The bottom line: a large number of these will come from Jabhat al-Nusra.

So Ankara for all practical purposes remains fully behind hardcore jihadis in northwest Syria – disguised under the “innocent” brand Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Ankara has absolutely no interest in letting these people disappear. Moscow, of course, is fully aware of these shenanigans, but wily Kremlin and Defence Ministry strategists prefer to let it roll for the time being, assuming the Astana process shared by Russia, Iran and Turkey can be somewhat fruitful.

Erdogan, at the same time, masterfully plays the impression that he’s totally involved in pivoting towards Moscow. He’s effusive that “his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin” supports the idea – initially tabled by Azerbaijan – of a regional security platform uniting Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Erdogan even said that if Yerevan is part of this mechanism, “a new page may be opened” in so far intractable Turkey-Armenia relations.

It will help, of course, that even under Putin pre-eminence, Erdogan will have a very important seat at the table of this putative security organization.

The Big Picture is even more fascinating – because it lays out various aspects of Putin’s Eurasia balancing strategy, which involves as main players Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the assassination of Gen Soleimani, Tehran is far from cowed and “isolated”. For all practical purposes, it is slowly but surely forcing the US out of Iraq. Iran’s diplomatic and military links to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon remain solid.

And with less US troops in Afghanistan, the fact is Iran for the first time since the “axis of evil” era will be less surrounded by the Pentagon. Both Russia and China – the key nodes of Eurasia integration – fully approve it.

Of course the Iranian rial has collapsed against the US dollar, and oil income has fallen from over $100 billion a year to something like $7 billion. But non-oil exports are going well over $30 billion a year.

All is about to change for the better. Iran is building an ultra-strategic pipeline from the eastern part of the Persian Gulf to the port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman – bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, and ready to export up to 1 million barrels of oil a day. China will be the top customer.

President Rouhani said the pipeline will be ready by the summer of 2021, adding that Iran plans to be selling over 2.3 million barrels of oil a day next year – with or without US sanctions alleviated by Biden-Harris.

Watch the Golden Ring

Iran is well linked to Turkey to the west and Central Asia to the east. An extra important element in the chessboard is the entrance of freight trains directly linking Turkey to China via Central Asia -bypassing Russia.

Earlier this month, the first freight train left Istanbul for a 8,693 km, 12-day trip, crossing below the Bosphorus via the brand new Marmary tunnel, inaugurated a year ago, then along the East-West Middle Corridor via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, across Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

In Turkey this is known as the Silk Railway. It was the BTK that reduced freight transport from Turkey to China from one month to only 12 days. The whole route from East Asia to Western Europe can now be travelled in only 18 days. BTK is the key node of the so-called Middle Corridor from Beijing to London and the Iron Silk Road from Kazakhstan to Turkey.

All of the above totally fits the EU’s agenda – especially Germany’s: implementing a strategic trade corridor linking the EU to China, bypassing Russia.

This would eventually lead to one of the key alliances to be consolidated in the Raging Twenties: Berlin-Beijing.

To speed up this putative alliance, the talk in Brussels is that Eurocrats would profit from Turkmen nationalism, pan-Turkism and the recent entente cordiale between Erdogan and Xi when it comes to the Uighurs. But there’s a problem: many a turcophone tribe prefers an alliance with Russia.

Moreover, Russia is inescapable when it comes to other corridors. Take, for instance, a flow of Japanese goods going to Vladivostok and then via the Trans-Siberian to Moscow and onwards to the EU.

The bypass-Russia EU strategy was not exactly a hit in Armenia-Azerbaijan: what we had was a relative Turkey retreat and a de facto Russian victory, with Moscow reinforcing its military position in the Caucasus.

Enter an even more interesting gambit: the Azerbaijan-Pakistan strategic partnership, now on overdrive in trade, defence, energy, science and technology, and agriculture. Islamabad, incidentally, supported Baku on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Both Azerbaijan and Pakistan have very good relations with Turkey: a matter of very complex, interlocking Turk-Persian cultural heritage.

And they may get even closer, with the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INTSC) increasingly connecting not only Islamabad to Baku but also both to Moscow.

Thus the extra dimension of the new security mechanism proposed by Baku uniting Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia: all the Top Four here want closer ties with Pakistan.

Analyst Andrew Korybko has neatly dubbed it the “Golden Ring” – a new dimension to Central Eurasian integration featuring Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and the central Asian “stans”. So this all goes way beyond a possible Triple Entente: Berlin-Ankara-Beijing.

What’s certain as it stands is that the all-important Berlin-Moscow relationship is bound to remain as cold as ice. Norwegian analyst Glenn Diesen summed it all up: “The German-Russian partnership for Greater Europe was replaced with the Chinese-Russian partnership for Greater Eurasia”.

What’s also certain is that Erdogan, a master of pivoting, will find ways to simultaneously profit from both Germany and Russia.

A Loving Father to All: Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis

A Loving Father to All: Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis

By Elham Hashemi

On the first anniversary of the martyrdom of Haj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, al-Ahed news had an exclusive interview with Zahraa; who was taken care of by martyr al-Muhandis after her father had passed away. She is only one of the very many young women and men who he had helped and supported throughout their lives.

He soon became my father…

I got acquainted to Haj Abu Mahdi when I was around 19 years old. It was in 2008 when we first met at a gathering with common friends and family members. I had lost my father two years before that and life was very tough on me. I was suffering from some issues at university, I had to quit and was exhausted. He noticed I was not okay, and he would always try to make me laugh and give me moral boosts whenever he would see me. Slowly became like a father to me. He would bring hope into my life and help me think positive and supported me in confronting my problems too.

He would always tell me, “You know I have four daughters, and now I have five, you are my fifth daughter.”

I really felt like I was one of his daughters. He supported me like he was my own father in different issues. Even when he was super busy, he would still find time to check up on me and my family members. His wife and daughters are also kind and well-educated women. They would participate in our family gatherings and as time passed we were like one family.

I would sometimes pass by his office with my husband, just to say hello, I knew he had hectic days and was overwhelmed with work.

We would discuss things related to my life, I would seek advice from him. I still remember how he encouraged me to seek my higher education again and focus on psychology as a major, he assured a few times “I really think that we need this major, you can help society a lot.”

A bright future awaits

He was very unique; the way he would speak to people, his generosity, and the positive vibes he spreads wherever he goes. He was a source of tranquility and happiness to me and my husband and I am later on got to know he was that source of delight and serenity for others too. He would always give me and other young men and ladies advice on how important it is to stay up-to-date, to seek good education, to do our best in everything. It was very important for him that young people play an effective role in society. He would tell me and others “You have to do your best always, you must know that the future is waiting and that it can be a bright future if you are successful in your own way and own field.”

He was a loving father to everyone around him, and he would try to personally help people out in their different issues. Of course, young men and women as I said were a main concern to him, and he always cared for them and encouraged them to build a great future.

Caring…

He was so caring, he would also take care of the sons and daughters of many of the martyrs; Iranians and Iraqis alike.

He always said “I feel uneasy to see depressed young people, yes life is tough but we can be tougher and we can win in face of all the challenges in life. Be active in all fields of life, leave your good finger prints wherever you go.”

When my husband and I would pass by to say hello or meet at a dinner or family gathering, he would always joke with my husband and tell him “If you give my lovely daughter a hard time I know how to deal with you,” and we would all laugh. The last time I saw him was around three months before his martyrdom. He asked me a lot if I need anything, he repeated his question several times and told me “my daughter, if you and your husband need anything just let me know, and if I cannot do it myself I will have someone help you out.” 

Abu Mahdi at the war fronts

My husband’s friend was present at the war fronts, when fighting the terrorist group Daesh in Iraq. He was under the supervision of Haj Abu Mahdi. He said that all what mattered to Haj Abu Mahdi was that things go right. It did not matter to him whether he ate or not, it was not important for him to sleep or rest, all what mattered was to achieve victory and protect innocent people and lands from the terrorist and extremist groups who raped, killed, and destroyed wherever they went.

And whenever he felt extremely tired he would eat anything simple, take a short nap even on the asphalt to regain some energy and continue his work.

Bidding him farewell

On that night, one of my best friends sent me a message consoling me on the martyrdom of Haj Abu Mahdi, I was shocked but I told myself this is not true. It was only seconds when my husband came and told me that Abu Mahdi and Haj Qassem Suleimani were assassinated and now are martyrs.

I told myself, it’s probably rumors. I did not want to believe. I was in denial at first, and I was unable to believe he was assassinated. It took me a while to calm down and realize that it’s true. In the morning the first thing I did was go to their house to see his wife and daughters. It was like I lost my father for the second time. His pictures were everywhere. Later on, I went to see him and say good bye but it was only remains of his body that were in the coffin.

 He promised me that he would be my father forever. He promised that he will always there for me. It is true that he was assassinated and no longer could I see him, but his soul is always with me.

Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestine 17 – 23 December 2020

Source

  • 6 Palestinian civilians wounded, including 1 child, in IOF excessive use of force in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem
  • 6 shootings reported at Palestinians and agricultural lands, and twice at fishing boats eastern and western Gaza Strip
  • In 68 IOF incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem: 45 civilians arrested, including 6 children and 2 women
  • Demolition of 4 houses, including 1 self-demolished, and 4 barracks, and confiscation of tools and equipment in Jerusalem and Hebron
  • Escalated settler-attacks in the West Bank: 330 trees uprooted, Palestinian ran over and others assaulted, vehicles assaulted as well
  • IOF established 79 temporary military checkpoints in the West Bank and arrested 2 Palestinian civilians on said checkpoints

Summary

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued to commit crimes and multi-layered violations against Palestinian civilians and their properties, including raids into Palestinian cities that are characterized with excessive use of force, assault, abuse and attacks on civilians that are mostly conducted after midnight and in the early morning hours. This week witnessed an escalation in settler attacks, mainly uprooting and cutting trees and seedlings, assaults on civilian houses and vehciles, and assaults on civilians as one was ran over by a car. Settlers’ attacks maxed on Monday, as the settlers carried out 12 assaults all under IOF protection across the West Bank. Additionally, IOF demolitions of Palestinian homes and properties continued as part of Israel’s de facto annexation and under various pretexts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

This week, PCHR documented 193 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by IOF and settlers in the oPt. It should be noted that the limitations due to the corona virus pandemic, has limited PCHR’s fieldworkers mobility and ability to conduct field documentation; therefore, the information contained in this report are only part of the continued IOF violations.

IOF shooting and violation of right to bodily integrity:

Six civilians, including a child, were wounded during IOF excessive use of force in the West Bank: a child was wounded near the Annexation Wall in Jenin; 4 civilians were wounded in an IOF incursion into Nablus; and a sixth person was wounded in IOF shooting at his vehicle in Hebron before arresting him. Additionally, dozens of civilians suffocated due to tear gas inhalation, which was used by IOF to suppress protests and during incursions into Palestinian cities.

In the Gaza Strip, 6  IOF shootings were reported at civilians, journalists, farmers, shepherds and agricultural lands, and twice at fishing boats eastern and western Gaza Strip.

IOF incursions and arrests of Palestinian civilians: IOF carried out 68 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Those incursions included raids of civilian houses and shootings, enticing fear among civilians, and attacking many of them. During this week’s incursions, 45 Palestinians were arrested, including 6 children and 2 women.

Demolitions:

PCHR documented 6 incidents, including:

  • Occupied East Jerusalem: barn self-demolished, and 2 houses were demolished (one by its owners) in Silwan; two commercial barracks and a wall in Jabel Mukaber and Wadi Jier area were demolished.
  • Hebron: 2 houses, barracks and water well were demolished in Khirbet al-Simia, west of as-Samu; manual digging equipment and power generator were also confiscated in Khirbet Zanuta, eastern ad-Dhahiriya.

Settler-attacks: PCHR fieldworkers reported and documented 19 settler-violence incidents:

  • 250 trees uprooted in Kisan village, eastern Bethlehem;
  • Assault on several houses and shepherds and a Palestinian ran over in Hebron;
  • Water irrigation system, and orange trees cut in Khan al-Laban in Nablus;
  • 30 olive tree seedlings cut in Al-Mughayyir, northeastern Ramallah.
  • 50 olive tree seedlings south east of Nablus.

On Monday, 21 December 2020, witnessed an increase in settler assaults, as PCHR fieldworkers documented 12 assaults, including settler protests, assaults on vehciles and civilians and chanteing discriminative slogans across the West Bank.

Israeli closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement:

The Gaza Strip still suffers the worst closure in the history of the Israeli occupation of the oPt as it has entered the 14th consecutive year, without any improvement to the movement of persons and goods, humanitarian conditions and bearing catastrophic consequences on all aspects of life.

Meanwhile, IOF continued to divide the West Bank into separate cantons with key roads blocked by the Israeli occupation since the Second Intifada and with temporary and permanent checkpoints, where civilian movement is restricted, and they are subject to arrest.

  • Shooting and other Violations of the Right to Life and Bodily Integrity
  • At approximately 02:30 on Thursday, 17 December 2020, IOF moved into Ramallah in the center of the West Bank and stationed in ‘Ein Musbah neighborhood. IOF raided and searched Mo’tasem Ayman Zaloum’s (21) house and arrested him, taking him to an unknown destination. When IOF withdrew from the city, a group of Palestinian young men gathered, set fire to tires and threw stones at IOF, who responded with rubber bullets, sound bombs and teargas canisters. As a result, many civilians suffocated due to teargas inhalation and received treatment on the spot.
  • At approximately 03:00, a large number of IOF accompanied with dozens of Israeli soldiers and Special Forces moved into Dheisheh refugee camp. IOF raided and searched several houses, from which they arrested Mohammed Suliman Diyrieh (18) and Hussain Eyas Diyrieh (18). Meanwhile, a group of Palestinian young men gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at IOF, who attacked the protestors, chased them on the camp’s streets and fired heavy teargas canisters in the area. As a result, many protestors suffocated due to teargas inhalation.
  • At approximately 09:30, IOF stationed along the Gaza’s border fence with Israel, east of Khan Yunis, fired live bullets at a group of journalists, farmers and a staff of the Ministry of agriculture, who were present 200 meters away from the border fence, east of al-Fukhari village, to follow up on the IOF incursion into the area and the warnings they had put on for farmers yesterday. Due to the heavy shooting, the journalists, farmers and staff of the Ministry of agriculture were forced to leave; no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 11:00, IOF moved into ‘Anin village, west of Jenin, north of the West Bank, and stationed near the village’s High School. IOF fired teargas canisters on the school’s yards. As a result, many teachers and students suffocated due to teargas inhalation and received treatment on the spot.
  • At approximately 11:00 on Friday, 18 December 2020, and for the ninth consecutive week, a peaceful protest took off in Beit Dajan village, northeast of Nablus, with the participation of the National Action Factions in Nablus, which started from the village Council heading to the lands under threat of confiscation east of the village. The protesters raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation, settlers, annexation wall and the Deal of Century.  When the protestors arrived at the area, they found a large number of Israeli soldiers awaiting them. IOF suppressed the protest and fired live and rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protestors. As a result, many civilians suffocated due to teargas inhalation and received treatment on the spot.
  • Around the same time, a peaceful protest took off in the center of al-Mughayyir village, northeast of Ramallah, at the call of the villagers, towards lands under the threat of confiscation and in protest to the establishment of new settlement outposts in Ras al-Teen area near the eastern entrance to the village. The protestors raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation, settlers and annexation wall. When the protestors arrived at the area, they found a large number of Israeli soldiers awaiting them. The protestors chanted slogans again against the Israeli occupation and settlers. IOF immediately suppressed the protest and fired live and rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protestors. As a result, 9 4 civilians sustained rubber bullets wounds in their lower extremities and received treatment on the spot. Also, dozens of protestors suffocated due to teargas inhalation.
  • At approximately 14:00, a number of Palestinian young men gathered in Bab al-Zawiyia area in the center of Hebron and threw stones at a military checkpoint established at the northern entrance to Hebron, so-called Checkpoint (56). IOF chased the stone-throwers in the village’s market and fired sound bombs and teargas canisters at them. As a result, many stone-throwers suffocated due to teargas inhalation. The clashes continued until 17:00; no arrests among the protestors were reported.
  • At approximately 12:00 on Saturday, 19 December 2020, IOF stationed along the Gaza’s border fence with Israel, northeast of Deir al-Balah city in the center of Gaza Strip, fired live bullets and teargas canisters at Palestinian shepherds; no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 14:00, IOF stationed near the annexation wall, west of Araqah village, west of Jenin, north o the West Bank, opened fire at Eyad Ghasan Mohammed Shalameesh (15), from Burqin village, wounding him in his right leg. IOF claimed that he approached the annexation wall halls. Shalameesh was taken to Khalil Suliman Hospital for treatment.
  • At approximately 01:00 on Monday, 21 December 2020, IOF moved into Nablus, north of the West Bank, and stationed on al-Basha Street in Ras al-‘Ein neighborhood, south of the city. IOF raided a 6-storey building belonging to Abu Daher family. Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian young men gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at IOF vehicles. Violent clashes erupted between IOF and Palestinian young men, resulted in the injury of 4 civilians with Two-Two bullets in their feet. The wounded civilians were taken to Rafidia Hospital for treatment. Before IOF withdrawal, they arrested ‘Anan Saleem Yousef Abu Duhair (43) and took him to his company located on the 2nd floor of the building. IOF searched the company and confiscated a PC set, DVR and some documents.
  • At approximately 06:30, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Waha Shore, northwest of Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip, chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and opened heavy fire around them until 07:30, causing fear among the fishermen and forcing them to flee. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 12:25,  IOF stationed in (16) military site, northeast of Beit Hanoun, north of the Gaza Strip, opened sporadic fire at Palestinian shepherds approached the border fence, causing fear among them and forcing them to flee. Neither casualties nor material damage were reported.
  • At approximately 14:15,  IOF stationed in (16) military site, northeast of Beit Hanoun, north of the Gaza Strip, opened heavy fire at Palestinian shepherds approached the border fence, causing fear among them and forcing them to flee. Neither casualties nor material damage were reported.
  • At approximately 22:00, IOF stationed along the Gaza’s border fence with Israel, east of Bureij refugee camp, opened fire at agricultural lands; no casualties were reported. 
  • At approximately 02:00 on Tuesday, 22 December 2020, IOF stationed along the Gaza’s border fence with Israel, east of Abu Safia area, east of Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, opened sporadic fire at the border area; no causalities or material damage were reported.
  • At approximately 08:30, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Waha Shore, northwest of Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip, chased Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and opened heavy fire around them until 07:30, causing fear among the fishermen and forcing them to flee. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 01:00 on Wednesday, 23 December 2020, IOF opened fire at a vehicle belonging to Ahmed Faisal ‘Arafat al-Rajbi(21), from Bani Na’im village, while present in al-Jalajel area, east of Hebron, wounding him with a live bullet in his back. IOF chased al-Rajbi’s vehicle and detained him for half an hour without providing aid to him.  Al-Rajbi was arrested and then taken via an Israeli ambulance. It should be noted that IOF prevented a staff of the Palestine Red Crescent Society from reaching and helping him. 
  1. Incursions and arrests:

Thursday, 17 December 2020:

  • At approximately 03:00, IOF moved into al-Mughayyir village, northeast of Ramallah. They raided and searched several houses and arrested Jamal Rabah al-Haj (29). IOF took him to an unknown destination.
  • At approximately 10:00, IOF moved into Ras al-Amoud neighborhood, east of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Asma’ Mohammed Owais’s (24) house and arrested her. Owais was taken to one of the police stations in the city, she was interrogated for several hours before releasing her. It should be noted that Owais’s brother, Baker Mohammed Owais (22) was arrested 3-weeks ago.
  • At approximately 12:00, IOF arrested Ra’eda Sa’eed al-Khalili (37), while performing prayers at Bab al-Rahma, in the Aqsa Mosque. IOF took her to one of the investigation centers in the city, and released her, after several hours of investigation, on conditions that banning her entry to the Aqsa Mosque for a week. It should be noted that al-Khalili was arrested 8 times from the same place.
  • At approximately 19:00, IOF stormed a store in al-Wad street, in the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, and arrested the store owner’s son, Naji Akram Zughayyar (26).
  • IOF carried out (2) incursions in Birzeit, north of Ramallah; and Aqabat Jabr refugee camp, southwest of Jericho governorate. No arrests were reported.

Friday, 18 December 2020:

  • At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into al-Eizariya, east of the occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched Hashem Mohammed Rajabi’s (23) house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 18:00, IOF stationed at Mazmouriya checkpoint, east of Bethlehem, arrested Alaa Mansour Khleif (29), while passing through the checkpoint. IOF took him to an unknown destination.
  • At approximately 13:50, IOF stationed at ‘Inab military checkpoint, east of Tulkarm, arrested Zeid As’ad Fuqaha (17), from Anabta, east of Tulkarm. IOF took him to an unknown destination.
  • At approximately 18:00, IOF arrested Tareq al-Joulani (18), while present near Bab al-‘Amoud area in the occupied East Jerusalem. IOF took him to one of the investigation centers in the city.
  • At approximately 17:30, IOF moved into Zububa, southwest of Jenin. They raided and searched several houses and arrested Osama Hesham Atatra (37).
  • At approximately 20:00, IOF moved into Zababdeh village, southwest of Jenin. They raided and searched several houses and arrested Mohammed Zeidan ‘Ar’arawi (22).
  • IOF carried out (2) incursions in Jenin and Jaba villages, south of Jenin. No arrested were reported.

Saturday, 19 December 2020:

  • At approximately 01:00, IOF moved into al-Tur neighborhood, east of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched two houses belonging to Ameer Sami Abu al-Hawa (19) and Abdul Rahman Eyad al-Hidra (24) and arrested them.
  • At approximately 10:30, IOF arrested Zeid As’ad Foqaha (19), from Anabta, east of Tulkarm, while referring to the Israeli Intelligence Services, that recently summonsed him. IOF took him to an unknown destination.
  • At approximately 12:30, IOF arrested Nabil Saleh Abdullah (38), from Kisa village, south of Bethlehem. IOF prosecuted his vehicle near the entrance of al-Maniya village, southeast of the city.
  • At approximately 17:30, IOF moved into the eastern neighborhood in Jenin, north of the West Bank. They arrested Yamen ‘Atiq (17) and Ibrahim Taher al-Sa’di (17), while present on the entrance of Ganim evacuated settlement, near the abovementioned site.
  • IOF carried out (2) incursions in Beit Kahil and al-Shuyukh in Hebron governorate. No arrests were reported.

Sunday, 20 December 2020:

  • At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into Anabta, east of Qalqilya, north of the West Bank. They raided and searched several houses and arrested Mohannad Ahmed Hammad (19).
  • At approximately 01:45, IOF moved into Huwara, southeast of Nablus. They raided and searched several houses and arrested Oday Jamal Owda (19).
  • At approximately 04:00, IOF moved into Azzun, east of Qalqilya. They raided and searched several houses and arrested Sa’eed Ziyad Abu Haniya (24) and confiscated his vehicle.
  • At approximately 16:00, IOF arrested Mohammed Mousa Obaid (17), while present near the eastern entrance of al-Isawiya village, northeast the occupied East Jerusalem. IOF took him to one of the investigation centers in the city.
  • At approximately 18:00, Israeli Intelligence Services arrested Waheeb Khaled Abu al-Hums (18), from al-Isawiya, northeast the occupied East Jerusalem. while referring to al-Bareed police station in Salah al-Dein street, that recently summonsed him via a phone call. IOF extended his arrest until the next day.
  • IOF carried out (5) incursions in Burin, southeast of Nablus; Hebron, Halhul, Sa’ir and Surif villages in Hebron governorate. No arrests were reported.

Monday, 21 December 2020:

  • At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into Isawiya village, northeast the occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched two houses belonging to Omar Marwan Obaid (20) and Ameen Omar Hamed (24) and arrested them.
  • At approximately 02:00, IOF moved into Silwan, south of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Ahmed Younis al-Ghoul’s (21) house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 02:30, IOF moved into Jenin, north of the West Bank. They raided and searched several houses and arrested Mahmoud Kamel al-‘Ayya (36).
  • Around the same time, IOF moved into Jenin refugee camp, west of Jenin. They raided and searched several houses and Yazan Abdul Razek Hannoun (19) and Saber Mohammed Shaqfa (20).
  • At approximately 03:00, IOF moved into al-Eizariya, east of the occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched several houses and arrested Mo’ayad Ahmed al-Khateeb (26) and Ali Eisa Mamdouh (21), and confiscated a vehicle belonging to Atta Maher Hamdan.
  • At approximately 03:30, IOF reinforced with several military vehicles moved into al-Mughayyir village, northeast of Ramallah governorate. They raided and searched Abdullah Zaghloul al-Na’san’s (25) house and arrested him. Additionally, IOF confiscated a white vehicle holding an unregistered plate belonging to Mansour al-Haj Bishara, a prisoner in the Israeli prisons.
  • At approximately 06:00, IOF reinforced with several military vehicles moved 200-meters to the east of al-Shawka village, east of Rafah. They levelled and combed 48-acres of planted with vegetables, and irrigation networks, and deployed again at approximately 09:00.

Following are the details of the damages:

  1. A 5-dunum land planted with peas, and an irrigation network at a 30-dunum land belonging to Nahed Hamdi Madi.
  2. A 5-dunum land planted with peas, and an irrigation network at a 30-dunum land belonging to Mohammed Hamdi Madi.
  3. A 5-dunum land planted with potatoes, and an irrigation network at a 30-dunum land belonging to Sameer Hamdi Madi.
  4. A 7-dunum land planted with potatoes, and an irrigation network at a 40-dunum land belonging to Ishaq Mansour Abu Mo’ammar.
  5. A 10-dunum land planted with potatoes, belonging to Abdullah Mahmoud Matbouli.
  6. An 8-dunum land planted with peas, belonging to Jamal Mohammed Madi.
  7. An 8-dunum land planted with peas, belonging to Hamad Marzouq Madi.
  • At approximately 12:20, IOF arrested Ahmed Abd Atiya (19) and Hussain Mahmoud Atiya (18), while present near the entrance of Isawiya, northeast the occupied East Jerusalem. IOF took them to one of the police centers in the city.
  • At approximately 15:40, IOF stationed at Ariel rotary, south of Kifl Haris, arrested Ahmed Isma’el Abu Naser, from Dir Istiya, north of Salfit, after chasing him between the olive trees. IOF released him after the intervention of the Palestinian Military Liaison. It should be noted that Ahmed is a person with disability.
  • At approximately 22:30, IOF arrested (3) civilians while present at the Madaris neighborhood, at al-Isawiya, northeast the occupied East Jerusalem. IOF took them to al-Bareed police center in Salah al-Dein street in Jerusalem. The arrestees are: Mohammed Haitham Mustafa (18), Mohammed Mousa Mostafa (18), and Younis Wissam Abu al-Hums (18).
  • IOF carried out (2) incursions in Tulkarm and Tulkarm refugee camp. No arrests were reported.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020:

  • At approximately 01:30, IOF reinforced with several military vehicles moved into Abwein, northwest of Ramallah, and stationed in the center of the village. They raided and searched Majdi al-Khayyat’s house, after bombing the main door, and detained all the house members in the balcony, and damaged the house contents. No arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 04:00, IOF reinforced with several military vehicles moved into al-Dhahiriya, south of Hebron. They raided and searched Mohammed Bassam al-Battat’s (25) house and arrested him.
  • IOF carried out (5) incursions in Aqabat Jabr refugee camp in Jericho; Hebron, Beit Ummar, Adisa, east of Sa’ir, Hadab al-Fawwar village in Hebron governorate. No arrests were reported.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020:

  • At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into Qabatiya, southeast of Jenin. They raided and searched Mahmoud Omar Sadiq Kmeil’s (17) house, who was killed in 21 December 2020, on grounds of accusing him of carrying out a shooting attack near Bab Hutta in Jerusalem. IOF interrogated Mahmoud’s family for over than an hour. Meanwhile, IOF raided Mohammed Tawfiq Mohammed Kmeil’s (17) house, in the same area, and arrested him.
  • At approximately 02:00, IOF moved into Salfit, north of the West Bank. They raided and searched several houses and arrested Nizar Mohammed Darabiya (26), from Gaza living in Salfit.
  • At approximately 02:30, IOF moved into al-Arouj village, southeast of Bethlehem. They raided and searched Munir Mohammed Ta’amra’s (37) house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 03:00, IOF moved into Teqoa, east of Bethlehem. They raided and searched Qusai Ali Abu Mfarreh’s (18) house and arrested him.
  • At approximately 15:00, IOF arrested Malek Abdul Rahim Sidr (16), while present near Bab al-Rahma, one of the Aqsa Mosqu’s gates in the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City and arrested him.
  • IOF carried out (5) incursions in Mirka, southeast of Jenin, al-Lubban Qablan and SEBASTIA in Nablus; Halhul; and Imreish in Hebron. No arrest were reported.

III. Settlement Expansion and settler violence in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem

  • Demolition and Confiscation of Civilian Property
  • On Sunday morning, 20 December 2020, ‘Ali Rweidi self-demolished a barrack he uses for grazing animals in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, pursuant to the Israeli Municipality decision for unlicensed construction and banning animal-grazing near houses.

‘Ali Rweidi said that he built the barrack 5 years ago on an area of 145 sqm for grazing sheep and chicken.  He added that the Israeli Municipality has haunted him since 2016 under the pretext of grazing animals near residential houses in occupied Jerusalem.  Only few weeks ago, the municipality crews handed him a notice to demolish his barrack himself or it would and then fine him ILS38,000.  Rweidi said that he had to self-demolish the barrack although it is adequately far from the neighbors’ houses and none of them complained.  He added that he incurred huge losses as he had to sell the animals less than the original price before demolishing the barrack.

  • At approximately 08:30, IOF backed by military and Israeli Civil Administration vehicles, including an excavator and a bulldozer, moved into Kherbet al-Simiya, west of as-Samu village, south of Hebron.  The soldiers deployed in the area and the vehicles started the demolition of 2 houses, a barrack and water well.
No.OwnerFacilityNotes
 Shehdah Rezq al-Qawa’in and his family of 5, including 3 childrenA house (100 sqm), barrack (600 sqm) and water well (300 m³) House inhabited
 Ahmed Soliman al-Qawa’in and his family of 16, including 13 children and 2 women,A house (120sqm)House inhabited

The demolition was for alleged illegal construction in Area C as an Israeli Civil Administration officer handed the 2 owners notices to stop work 3 years ago.  The 2 civilians hired a lawyer to obtain licenses but had not received any response from the competent committee even until the demolition was carried out.  It should be noted that the 2 civilians live in Israel and come from time to time to stay in their houses for completing the construction works in the barrack in order to move the sheep there and then permanently stay.  Moreover, the Israeli authorities vacated the houses before the demolition.

  • On Monday afternoon, 22 December 2020, Shahirah Ghaith self-demolished her house in Wadi Qaddoum neighborhood in Silwan, southern Old East Jerusalem, pursuant to Israeli Municipality decision for unlicensed construction.

Ghaith stated that she separated from her husband 10 years ago and have 5 children, 3 girls and 2 boys, whom she raises on her own.  She said that only few months ago, she built the house (70 sqm) of tin plates and 2 rooms with a kitchen and bathroom with her brothers’ help due to her poor economic conditions.  She moved in with her family last September; however, the Municipality did not leave her alone and issued a decision to demolish the house.  She added that she hired a lawyer to postpone the decision but was surprised with the police officers in the morning surrounding her house.  When she asked them why, one of them told her that the Municipality refused to freeze the demolition, so the bulldozers will demolish the house next day and she will be pay the demolition costs (ILS 70,000).  She then asked the officers to help them with the demolition to avoid paying the fine. =

  • At approximately 10:00 on Tuesday, 22 December 2020, IOF accompanied by a Civil Administration SUV and a truck moved into Kherbet Zanouta, east of ad-Dhahiriya village, south of Hebron.  The soldiers deployed at the Kherbet Zanouta’s entrance while the Israeli Civil Administration crew started confiscating hand digging tools, a generator  and vehicles belonging to Soliman al-Battat, who was digging a water well in Sho’eib al-Khdeirat’s land.  The Civil Administration officer took photos of the area dug and hanged a notice to stop work near it.  They then arrested Soliman al-Battat and withdrew, but later released him.  It should be noted that the Israeli authorities had noticed a week ago 10 facilities, including residential rooms in al-Kherbeh, allegedly for unlicensed construction.
  • At approximately 11:00, IOF demolished a commercial barrack in Wadi al-Jeer area between Abu Dis and Al-Eizariya villages, east of occupied East Jerusalem, allegedly for unlicensed construction.  Mahmoud al-Basha, who owns the barrack, said that the Israeli Municipality demolished a barrack he used for auto-repair and was built of bricks, steel and tin plates on an area of 150 sqm allegedly for unlicensed construction.
  • In the evening, the Israeli Municipality vehicles demolished Kazem Abu Shafe’a’s house in al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, under the pretext of unlicensed construction.

Abu Shafe’a, 28, stated that the IOF accompanied by the Israeli Municipality crews moved into the Al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan, and unexpectedly surrounded his house starting to demolish it with light vehicles. Abu Shafe’a added that he built the house on an area of ​​50 sqm last August to live with his wife and two children near his family in the neighborhood. Abu Shafe’a added that he had to build a small unlicensed house consisting of two rooms and utilities, to avoid rented houses, which cost huge amounts of money in Jerusalem. Abu Shafe’a pointed out that the Israeli Municipality crews had raided his house last October and handed him a decision to stop construction works, and after a week they handed him an administrative demolition order for the house.  On the same day evening, they raided his house and started the demolition, ordering him to destroy the iron staircase leading to his house; otherwise. the crews will return and demolish it.

Settler attacks on Palestinian civilians and their property

  • On Thursday morning, 17 December 2020, Israeli settlers uprooted 250 trees in a Ayoub Youssif ‘Abiyat’s land, in Kisan village, east of Bethlehem.  Ahmed Ghazal, Deputy Head of the village council, stated that settlers from “Abbi Nahal” settlement established on Kisan village lands raided the land under the IOF protection, uprooted 250 trees and stayed there for few hours.  Ghazal added that the recent escalation of settlers’ attacks aims at seizing lands from Kisan village to annex them to their settlement.  He said that the settlers intensified their assaults in the  last 2 days as last night they raided the village and threw stones at some houses and attacked farmers and shepherds an hour before using their wild dogs which tore and killed many sheep.  As a result, the villagers confronted the settlers and forced them to leave the area.
  • At approximately 01:30 on Friday, 18 December 2020, settlers from “Mitzpe Yair settlement outpost established on the Palestinian lands of eastern Yatta, south of Hebron, attacked the 2 houses belonging to Mohammed ‘Ali Jabrin (63) and Isma’il Mohammed Jabrin (53) in Kherbet Sha’b al-Batem in al-Masafer area, east of Yata, south of Hebron.  They also assaulted the 2 civilians and insulted them.

‘Ali Mohammed Jabrin made the following statement to PCHR fieldworker:

“I woke up to knocks on my house door.  As soon as I had put my clothes on, 2 settlers opened the room door and entered; one of them in his 30s and namely Youssef whom I know.  He started shouting at me by asking where his stolen sheep was.  I was astonished at his attitude and told him I do not know what he was talking about.  My kids woke up and stood at the room corner in fear while the settler kept shouting and was flashing with a torch at me and my kids.  He then kicked twice my right leg and asked one of my sons to go to his uncle Ismail who lives near us in order to call the Israeli police.  The settler said in Arabic “I will go to Ismail” and then rushed to my brother’s house.  I stood at the house door and it was very dark while I could hear screams coming from my brother Ismail’s house.  When the settler left, I learnt from my brother that the settler entered the house shouting and woke up his children after disarranging their bed blankets.  He also attempted to assault Ismail allegedly searching for stolen sheep.” 

  • At approximately 04:30 on Friday, 18 December 2020, five settlers from “Mitzpe Yair settlement outpost assaulted ‘Omer Jebril Ahmed Hoshiyah’s (37) house in the Center area, east of Yata, south of Hebron.  The settlers severely beat Hoshiyah in front of his family and held him outside for a hour, claiming they were searching for stolen sheep.  As a result, Hoshiyah sustained various injuries.

Samirah Mohammed Rashed Hoshiyah (64) said to PCHR’s fieldworker:

“I live in the Center area in Masafer Yata with my husband and 37-year-old son and his wife and 3 kids.  We live in rooms built of bricks and tin plates.  At approximately 04:30, I heard cars’ movement near the house and noticed cars and torches lights, but I did not care about what was going on outside as I thought they were Palestinian workers going to their work in Israel.  Shortly, I woke my son ‘Omer to tell him what is going on outside, so their wife and kids woke up as well.  Few minutes later, the house door was opened, and we were surprised  with 2 settlers in plain clothes screaming in Arabic “where is the master here?” my son  approached them, but the 2 settlers pushed him to the ground and started punching him all over his body.  I shouted at them, but the settler shut the door.  My daughter-in-law and her children started crying.  I opened the door again to ask the settlers what they want from him, but none of them answered and took him inside their vehicle; meanwhile, 2 other settlers arrived and opened the sheep barn and searched it. My daughter-in-law and I started taking the sheep back inside and no one spoke to us. This remained until 6:00 when the settlers released my son ‘Omer. His mouth was bleeding and one of his teeth was broken. Later, we learned that settlers were searching for sheep they claim were stolen from them.”

  • Early on the same day, settlers from the “Price Tag” group in “Ma’ale Levona” settlement outpost, which is established on the lands of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village, southeast of Nablus, northern West Bank, attacked Khan al-Laban area, east of the village. The settlers sabotaged the water system there, broke the doors leading to it and broke the orange trees.  It should be mentioned that Khan al-Laban is an old building established in the Ottoman era and has been exposed to daily raids by settlers under the protection of the IOF, aiming to seize and connect it with the surrounding settlements in the village.
  • At approximately 19:00, a group of settlers from ” Adei Ad” settlement established on Al Mughayyir village lands, northeast of Ramallah, sneaked into the eastern agricultural area near the eastern entrance to the village.  The settlers cut 30 olive seedlings (planted 5 to 6 years ago) belonging to Rawhi Marouh al-Na’san (66).  The settlers withdrew back to their settlement.
  • On Sunday, 20 December 2020, settlers from the “Price Tag” groups in  “Ahyah” outpost, established on the eastern lands of Jaloud village, southeast of Nablus, uprooted 50 olive seedlings in Mohammed Fawzi Haj Mohammed’s land that were planted only days ago in the eastern village area.
  • At approximately 13:00, settlers from “Mitzpe Yair settlement outpost established on the Palestinian lands of eastern Yata, south of Hebron, assaulted ‘Issa Mahmoud Yousif Jabrin (43) while shepherding in al-Zweirah area and forced him to leave with his sheep.

‘Issa Jabarin said to PCHR fieldworker:

“I was shepherding in al-Zweirah area, east of Kherbet Sha’b al-Batm, where I live, when one of the settlers namely Youssef, who is in his 30s and lives in “Mitzpe Yair settlement outpost, arrived holding a stick and started hitting the sheep to distance them.  When I tried to stop him, he grabbed my neck and tried to chock me. I pushed him away, and he stepped back and did a phone call.  Few minutes later, 3 settlers from the same settlement were coming towards me that when I knew the settler Youssef had called them for help in order to attack me.  I took my 150 sheep and left the area.  Now, I cannot shepherding anymore in fear of the Israeli settlers’ attacks.”

  • At approximately 10:00 on Monday, 21 December 2020, settlers from “Asfar” settlement established on the eastern lands of Sa’ir village, north of Hebron, attacked shepherds who were in al-Qanoun area  and unleashed their dogs towards the shepherds, forcing them to leave the area to their houses.  Two settlers’ vehicles them chased the shepherds to their houses in al-Qanun area, and when young men present there attempted to stop the settlers, a setter’s vehicle ran over Subhi Mohammed ‘Abdel Fattah Shalaldah (33) and threw him on the street.  As a result, Shalaldah sustained bruises all over his body.  This area has been under the attacks of “Asfar” settlers, particularly shepherds.
  • At approximately 15:30 on Monday 21 December 2020, settlers crowded at the entrance to “Shavei Shomron” settlement that connects Nablus and Tulkarm, west of Nablus.  The settlers rioted the streets and threw stones at the Palestinian civilian cars traveling on the street.  As a result, Sadeq Sedqi Sadeq Khatatbah (24), from Beit Foriq village, northeast of Nablus, was hit with a stone in the head while traveling his car on the street and then taken to Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus, where his wound required 10-15 stitches and had a puffed left eye.
  • At approximately 16:30, groups of settlers gathered at the intersection of Kafr Qaddoum village, north of Salift, to provoke the Palestinians traveling their cars near the intersection and later withdrew.
  • At approximately 17:00, tens of settlers from  “Givat Harsina and Kiryat Arba” settlements established on the Palestinian lands of eastern Hebron vlosed the Bypass Road (60) leading to Hebron.  The settlers threw stones at the Palestinian vehicles before the very eyes of the IOF and Israeli police, who tried to provide protection for them.  At approximately 18:00, a settler attacked with stones a truck travelled by Mohammed Ziad al-Tmeizi (35) from Ethna village, west of Hebron and his nephew, MAhmpud Ayatullah al-Tmeizi (13) near the intersection of Deit ‘Aynoun.  As a result, the rear window’s glass was broken and shattered to wound the child in his forehead.  Al-Tmeizei had to pull his car over and informed the Israeli police about what happened.  He then took his nephew to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron for treatment while the road remained close in front of the Palestinian vehicles until late at night.
  • At approximately 19:00, tens of settlers gathered near Huwara checkpoint and at the intersection of  Yitzhar” settlement, southeast of Nablus, and rioted on the street.  They mobbed on the main street in Huwara village chanting in Hebrew “Death to Arabs” and  this village belongs to them and provoking Muslims by saying “Allahu Akbar.”
  • At approximately 19:10, settlers gathered at Za’tarah intersection, south of Nablus, and threw stones at the Palestinian vehicles traveling by.  At approximately 23:10, the settlers withdrew, and no damage to the vehicles was reported.
  • In the evening, groups of settlers gathered to riot the streets, intersections and roads to the Palestinian villages of al-Mughayyir, Taybeh, Beitin, Burqa, and ‘Ayoun al-Haramiyah (on the main Ramallah-Nablus Street) in Ramallah and al-Bireh, but no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 23:30 on Tuesday, 22 December 2020, settlers on Ramallah-Nablus Street near Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village, south of Nablus, attacked with sticks and stones a Skoda black car travelled by Eyad ‘Eid Sa’id from al-Mughayyir village, northeast of Ramallah.  They severely  beat him with the sticks, causing him bruises and wounds all over his body and damage to his car and its all four windows.  The settlers later withdrew to ” Eli” settlement established on the lands of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village.

II. Closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement of persons and goods:

The Gaza Strip still suffers the worst closure in the history of the Israeli occupation of the oPt as it has entered the 14th consecutive year, without any improvement to the movement of persons and goods, humanitarian conditions and bearing catastrophic consequences on all aspects of life.

The West bank:

In addition to 108 permanent checkpoints and closed roads, this week witnessed the establishment of more temporary checkpoints that restrict the goods and individuals 79 temporary checkpoints, where they searched Palestinians’ vehicles, checked their IDs and arrested 6 of them. IOF closed many roads with cement cubes, metal detector gates and sand berms and tightened their measures against individuals’ movement at military permanent checkpoints.

Jerusalem:

  • On Sunday, 20 December 2020, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to Anata village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem.
  • On Monday, 21 December 2020, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to to Anata village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem.

Ramallah:

  • On Thursday, 17 December 2020, IOF established a checkpoint under ‘Atara village’s bridge, north of the city.
  • On Saturday, 19 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the entrance to Beitin village and under ‘Atara village’s bridge.

Bethlehem:

  • At approximately 23:00 on Monday, 21 December 2020, IOF closed al-Container military checkpoint, east of Bethlehem, and prevented vehicles’ movement. The checkpoint was later opened.
  • On Monday, 21 December 2020, IOF established 3 checkpoints at the western entrance to Beit Fajjar village, at the entrance to Jab’a village and in al-Nashnash area, south of the city.
  • On Tuesday, 22 December 2020, IOF established 3 checkpoints at the northern entrance to Tuqu village, in ‘Aqabet Hassnah area and in al-Nashnash area, south of the city.
  • On Wednesday, 23 December 2020, IOF established 3 checkpoints at the northern and western entrances to Tuqu village and near al-Nashnash intersection, south of the city.

Jericho:

  • On Thursday, 17 December 2020, IOF established a checkpoint at the northern entrance to Jericho.
  • On Friday, 18 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the northern and southern entrances to Jericho.
  • On Saturday, 19 December 2020, IOF established 3 checkpoints at the northern and southern entrances to Jericho, and at the entrance to Ein ad-Duyuk village, north of the city.
  • On Sunday, 20 December 2020, IOF established a checkpoint at the northern entrance to Jericho.


Nablus:

  • On Friday, 18 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints in al-Muraba’a area near Tell village and in (17) area on Nablus- Asira_ash-Shamaliya main road, north of Nablus.
  • On Saturday, 19 December 2020, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to Asira_ash-Shamaliya village.
  • On Sunday, 20 December 2020, IOF established 5 checkpoints near the intersection of “Yitzhar” settlement, at Madama village intersection, at the entrance to Beita village, at Al-Lubban_al-Gharbi village intersection, and at the intersection of  “Bracha” settlement, southeast of Nablus.
  •  On Monday, 21 December 2020, IOF established 5 checkpoints at Madama village intersection, at the entrance to Beita village, near “Yitzhar” settlement, at Sarra village intersection, and at the intersection of “Shafi Shimron” settlement.
  • On Tuesday, 22 December 2020, IOF established 3 checkpoints at Beita village intersection, near Sebastia village intersection, and in al-Moraba’a area near Tell village.

Hebron:

  • On Thursday, 17 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the entrance to Yatta city and at the northern entrance to Halhul city.
  • On Saturday, 19 December 2020, IOF established 4 checkpoints at the entrances to Beit Awwa, Beit Ummar, Susya village, and Fawwar refugee camp.
  • On Sunday, 20 December 2020, IOF established 3 checkpoints at the southern entrance to Hebron, and at the entrances to Khasa and Idhna villages.
  • On Monday, 20 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the northern entrance to Halhul city and at the western entrance to Hebron.
  • On Tuesday, 22 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the southern entrance to Halhul city and at the northern entrance to Yatta city.
  • On Wednesday, 23 December 2020, IOF established 3 checkpoints on Wadi Sa’ir road, on Zaif road, north of Yatta city, and at the entrance to Farsh al-Hawa village, west of Hebron.

Jenin:

  • On Thursday, 17 December 2020, IOF established a checkpoint at the intersection of Arraba village, southwest of Jenin.
  • On Friday, 18 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the intersection of Jab’ village and at the intersection of Zububa village.

Qalqilya:

  • On Thursday, 17 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the entrances to Azzun and Izbat al-Tabib villages, east of Qalqilya.
  • On Friday, 18 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints under Azzun village’s bridge and at the entrance to Izbat al-Tabib villages, east of Qalqilya.
  • On Saturday, 19 December 2020, IOF established 3 checkpoints at the entrances to Qalqilya, Azzun and Izbat al-Tabib villages, east of Qalqilya. The checkpoints were removed later. 
  • On Monday, 21 December 2020, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to Kafr Laqif village, east of the city.

Salfit:

  • On Thursday, 17 December 2020, IOF established 2 checkpoints at the entrances to Deir Istiya and Kifl Haris villages, north of Salfit.
  • On Friday, 18 December 2020, IOF established 4 checkpoints at the entrances to Kafr ad-Dik and Deir Ballut villages, at the northern entrance to Salfit, and at the entrance to Kifl Haris villages, north of Salfit.
  • On Saturday, 19 December 2020, IOF established a checkpoint at the entrance to Deir Ballut village, west of Salfit.
  • On Sunday, 20 December 2020, IOF established 3 checkpoints at the entrances to Deir Ballut, Haris and Kifl Haris villages, west of Salfit.
  • On Monday, 21 December 2020, IOF established 5 checkpoints at the entrances to Haris and Kafr ad-Dik, Deir Ballut and Kifl Haris villages and at the northern entrance to Salfit.

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Israeli Forces Arrest 13 Palestinians, Including Four Children

December 28, 2020

The Israeli occupation army wage a massive arrest campaign in occupied West Bank. (Photo: via Twitter)

Israeli occupation forces detained early this morning 13 Palestinians, including at least four minors, from various parts of the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).

Israeli occupation forces detained six Palestinians from the southern West Bank district of Hebron (Al-Khalil).

Local sources identified two of the six detainees as 16-year-old minors from Beit Ummar town and another three as residents of the city of Hebron.

The sixth was identified as a resident of the town of Al-Shuyukh town, northeast of Hebron, and a student at Birzeit University. He was nabbed at a military checkpoint, east of Bethlehem.

Another 16-year-old minor was detained from al-Khader town in the district of Bethlehem, and the fourth minor was a 17-year-old resident of Qarawat Bani Hassan village, who was detained along with two other men from Deir Istiya village and Kifl Haris, west of Salfit.

The Israeli military stormed the town of Jaba‘, south of Jenin, where soldiers detained a Palestinian after ransacking his house and seizing his car.

The raid triggered confrontations during which the soldiers opened fire at local youngsters, causing a number to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

Soldiers detained two other Palestinians; one a resident of Qalqilya city in the north of the West Bank, and the other a student at Birzeit University from Ramallah city.

Israeli forces on a regular basis storm Palestinian cities and villages in the occupied West Bank to arrest Palestinian popular activists. 

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Update : Transcript Added : A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking with Michael Hudson & Pepe Escobar

December 28, 2020

Update : Transcript Added : A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking with Michael Hudson & Pepe Escobar

Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar discuss rent and rent-seeking, i.e., unproductive economic activity, in the US and China mainly but including the Russian, Iranian and Brazilian economies.

In the first 15 minutes, an overview from Michael Hudson explains what happened in the US economy once jobs and manufacturing were offshored to mainly China.  He proposes that even if China did not exist, the US economy has been changed to the extent that it is almost impossible to change back to a productive economy without material changes in the economic model.

Pepe keeps the conversation flowing quickly with incisive questions.  The two esteemed gentlemen take a look at the Chinese view on a possible Biden administration and how the military hawks in Washington could be countered.   Outlining the ‘conflict of systems’ between the US and China, Michael Hudson explains the thinking of the Pentagon and paying ‘protection money’ historically to fund oligarchies.  It is a ‘war between systems’, Hudson explains with the thinking being:  “If only China did not export to us, we could reindustrialize.”

“It’s over”: says Hudson, because “we’ve painted ourselves into such a debt corner.  So much money flows to the top 5% that there is no money for investment, no money for growth.”

Hudson explains the concept of capitalism, how it was conceived to work against neo-liberalism, and how it has changed to systemic support for rentier economics.

A wealth of detail follows, around fictitious debt and wealth creation.   Michael discusses the ‘brainwashing’ of Russia vis a vis economic policy and central bank to end up in a position where Russia was paying 100% interest for years under American advisors and privatized rentiers, “a bunch of gangsters.”   Very interesting is the discussion on how the perpetrators, the leading university of the US in the destruction and looting of Russia, could not be brought to a court.

“You don’t need an army to destroy a country any longer.  All you need to do is to teach it American economics.”  Michael Hudson

A question from Pepe regarding the economies of North East Asia, South East Asia, the Asia Crisis and currently further integration with Russia, resulted in this very cogent quote from Michael Hudson.

“The current mode of warfare is to conquer the brains of a country, to shape how people think.  If you can twist their view into unreality economics, to make them think you are there to help them and not to take money out of them, then you’ve got them hooked.  You need to lend them money, and then crash it.”  Michael Hudson.

The conversation ends with an extensive question from Pepe regarding the biggest myth regarding Belt and Road, the supposed ‘debt trap’.  The difference in systems, non-rentier, and rentier, debt, and neo-liberalism again is illustrated in a crystal clear fashion.

Transcript : 

December 16th, 2020

Henry George School of Social Science

Alanna: So, let’s formally start. Once we start to record Ibrahim is going to introduce the Henry George school and welcome everybody then I’m going to introduce from the bios; Michael and Pepe and then Michael will start with rent and rent seeking those who have comments or questions could put that in chat and then we’ll go to the chat at some point.

Ibrahima: Welcome, my name is Ibrahima Drame and I’m the director of education at the Henry George school of Social Science it’s a great honor to have you with us today for this joint webinar co-organized with the International Union for Land Value Taxation with two great thinkers, professor Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar to discuss rent and rent seeking. I’d like to thank Michael and Pepe for kindly accepting to share their insights and of course our good friend Alanna Hartzok co-founder of Earth Right Institute, she will be moderating this session.

So, before I hand it over to Alanna, I’d like to ask all attendees to keep their microphones muted until we open the Q & A in the meantime you are free to use the chat and please do so responsibly. Alanna please go ahead and introduce our speakers.

Alanna: Okay yes thank you so much to Michael and Pepe for joining us and having this conversation I know that you two have admired each other’s work and writings for many many years so this is your first time to actually, talk together so I’m going to introduce you both from your bios.

Michael Hudson is an American economist professor of economics at the university of Missouri Kansas City and a researcher at the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College he’s a former wall street analyst political consultant commentator and journalist. He identifies himself as a classical economist. Michael is the author of J is for Junk Economics, Killing the Host, the Bubble and Beyond, Super Imperialism subtitled the Economic Strategy of American Empire, Trade Development and foreign debt and the myth of aid among others his books have been published translated into Japanese, Chinese, German, Spanish and Russian.

Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is a correspondent editor at large at Asia Times and columnist for consortium news Washington dc and strategic culture Moscow since the mid-1980s he’s lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in London Paris, Milan los Angeles, Singapore Bangkok. He has extensively covered Pakistan Afghanistan, Central Asia to China, Iran, Iraq and the wider middle east pepe is the author of Globalistan – How the Globalized world is dissolving into liquid war red zone blues, A Snapshot of Baghdad during the surge he was contributing editor to the empire and the crescent and tuto in 03:09 vendita in italy and his last two books are empire of chaos and 2030. Pepe is also associated with the Paris-based European academy of geopolitics when not on the road he lives between Sao Paulo, Paris and Bangkok so we’ll have Michael begin now then he’s going to describe what uh the meaning is of rent and rent seeking and we’ll just take it from there please put comments and questions in chat thank you let’s go.

Michael Hudson: Well, I’m honored to be here on the same show with Pepe and discuss our mutual concern. And I think you have to frame the whole issue that China is thriving, and the West has reached the end of the whole 75-year expansion it had since 1945.

So, there was an illusion that America is de-industrializing because of competition from China. And the reality is there is no way that America can re-industrialize and regain its export markets with the way that it’s organized today. Financialized and privatized and if China didn’t exist. You’d still have the rust belt rusting out. You’d still have American industry not being able to compete abroad simply because the cost structure is so high in the United States.

The wealth is no longer made here by industrializing. It’s made financially, mainly by making capital gains. Rising prices for real estate or for stocks and for bonds.  In the last nine months, since the coronavirus came here, the top 1% of the U S economy grew by $1 trillion. It’s been a windfall for the 1%. The stock market is way up, the bond market is up, he real estate market is up while the rest of the economy is going down. Despite the tariffs that Trump put on, Chinese imports, trade with China is going up because we’re just not producing materials.

America doesn’t make its own shoes. It doesn’t make its own nuts and bolts or fasteners, it doesn’t make industrial things anymore because If money is to be made off an industrial company it’s to buy and sell the company, not to make loans to increase the company’s production. New York City where I live used to be an industrial city and, the industrial buildings, the mercantile buildings have all been gentrified into high-priced real estate and the result is that Americans have to pay so much money on education, rent and medical care that if they got all of their physical needs, their food, their clothing, all the goods and services for nothing, they still couldn’t compete with foreign labor because of all of the costs that they have to pay that are essentially called rent-seeking.

Housing in the United States now absorbs about 40% of the average worker’s paycheck. There’s a 15% taken off the top of paychecks for pensions, Social Security and for Medicare. Further medical insurance adds more to the paycheck, income taxes and sales taxes add about another 10%. Then you have student loans and bank debt. So basically, the American worker can only spend about one third of his or her income on buying the goods and services they produce. All the rest goes into the fire sector, the finance insurance, and real estate sector and other monopolies.

And essentially, we became what’s called a rent-seeking economy, not a productive economy. So, when people in Washington talk about American capitalism versus Chinese socialism this is confusing the issue. What kind of capitalism are we talking about? America used to have industrial capitalism in the 19th century. That’s how it got richer originally,but now it’s moved away from industrial capitalism towards finance capitalism. And what that means is that the mixed economy that made America rich. The government would invest in education and infrastructure and transportation and provide these at low costs so that the employers didn’t have to pay labor more to afford high financialized and privatized costs of living.

All of this has been transformed over the last hundred years. And we’ve moved away from the ethic of what was industrial capitalism. Before, the idea of capitalism in the 19th century – from Adam Smith to Ricardo, to John Stuart Mill to Marx – was very clear. Marx stated it quite clearly – Capitalism was revolutionary: It was to get rid of the landlord class. It was to get rid of the rentier class. It was to get rid of the banking class essentially, and just bear all the costs that were unnecessary for production, because how did England and America and Germany gain their markets?

They gained their markets basically by the government picking up a lot of the costs of the economy. The government in America provided low-cost education, not student debt. It provided transportation at subsidized prices. It provided basic infrastructure at low cost. And so, government infrastructure was considered a fourth factor of production.

And if you read what the business schools in the late 19th century taught like Simon Patten at the Wharton School, it’s very much like socialism. In fact, it’s very much like what China is doing. And in fact, China is following in the last 30 or 40 years pretty much the same way of getting rich that America followed.

It had its government fund basic infrastructure. It provides, low-cost education. It invests in high speed railroads and airports, in the building of cities. So, the government bears most of the costs and, that means that employers don’t have to pay workers enough to pay a student loan debt. They don’t have to pay workers enough to pay enormous rent such as you have in the United States.  They don’t have to pay workers to save for a pension fund, to pay the pension later on[1]. And most of all the Chinese economy doesn’t really have to pay a banking class because banking is the most important public utility of all.  Banking is what China has kept in the hands of government and Chinese banks don’t lend for the same reasons that American banks lend.

80% of American bank loans are mortgage loans to real estate and the effect of loosening loan standards and increasing the market for real estate is to push up the cost of living, push up the cost of housing. So, Americans have to pay more and more money for their housing, whether they’re renters or they’re buyers, in which case the rent is for paying mortgage interest.

So, all of this cost structure has been built into the economy. China’s been able pretty much, to avoid all of this, because its objective in banking is not to make a profit and interest, not to make capital gains and speculation. It creates money to fund actual means of production to build factories, to build research and development, to build transportation facilities, and to build infrastructure. Banks in America don’t lend for that kind of thing.

They only lend against collateral that’s already in place, because they won’t make a loan if it’s not backed by collateral. Well, China creates money through its public banks to create capital, to create the means of production. So, you have a diametric opposite philosophy of how to develop between the United States and China.

The United States has decided not to gain wealth by actually investing in means of production and producing goods and services, but in financial ways. China is gaining wealth and the old-fashioned way actually by producing it. And whether you call this, industrial capitalism or a state capitalism or a state socialism or Marxism, it basically follows the same logic of real economics, the real economy, not the financial overhead.  So you have China operating as a real economy, increasing its production, becoming the workshop of the world as England used to be called. And America trying to draw in foreign resources, live off of foreign resources, live by trying to make money by investing in the Chinese stock market or now, moving investment banks into China and making loans to China, not in actual industrial-capitalism ways.

So, you could say that America has gone beyond industrial capitalism, and they call it the post-industrial society, but you could call it the neo-feudal society. You could call it the neo-rentier society, or you could call it debt peonage. But it’s not industrial capitalism.

And in that sense, there’s no rivalry between China and America. These are different systems going their own way. I better let the Pepe pick it up from there.

Pepe Escobar: Okay. Thank you, Michael, this is brilliant. And you did it in less than 15 minutes. You told the whole story in 15 minutes. Well, my journalistic instinct is immediately to start questions to Michael. So, this is exactly what I’m gonna do now. I think it is much better to basically illustrate some points of what Michael just said, comparing the American system, which has finance capitalism essentially with industrial capitalism that is in effect in China. Let me try to start with a very concrete and straight to the point question, Michael.

Okay. let’s says that more or less, if we want to summarize it, basically they try to tax the nonproductive rentier class. So, this would be the Chinese way to distribute wealth, right? Sifting through the Chinese economic literature, there is a very interesting concept, which is relatively new, correct me if I wrong, Michael, in China, which they call stable investment. So stable investment, according to the Chinese would be to issue special bonds as extra capital in fact, to be invested in infrastructure building all across China and, and they, choose these projects in what they call weak areas and weak links. So probably in some of the inner provinces, or probably in some parts of Tibet or Xingjian for instance. So, this is a way to invest in the real economy and in real government investment projects.

Right? So, my question in fact, is does this system create extra local debt, coming directly from this financing from Beijing. Is this a good recipe for sustainable development, the Chinese way and the recipe that they could expand to other parts of the global South?

Michael: Well, this is a big problem that they’re discussing right now. The localities, especially rural China, (and China is still largely rural) only cover about half of their working budget from taxation. So, they have a problem. How are they going to get the balance of the money? Well, there is no official revenue sharing between the federal government and its state banks and the localities.

So, the localities can’t simply go to central government and say, give us more money. The government lets the localities be very independent. And it is sort of the “let a hundred flowers bloom” concept. They’ve let each locality just go its own way, but the localities have run a big deficit.

What do they do?  Well in the United States they would issue bonds on which New York is about to default. But in China, the easiest way for the localities to make money, is unfortunately to do something like Chicago did. They will sell their tax rights for the next 75 years for current money now.

So, a real estate developer will come in and say; look we will give you the next seventy-five years of tax on this land, because we want to build projects on this (a set of buildings). So, what this means is that now the cities have given away all their source of rent.

Let me show you the problem is what Indiana and Chicago did. Chicago also was very much like China’s countryside cities. So, it sold parking meters and its sidewalks to a whole series of Wall Street investors, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Fund for seventy-five years. And that meant that for 75 years, this Wall Street consortium got to control the parking meters.

So, they put up the parking meters all over Chicago raised the price of parking, raised the cost of driving to Chicago. And if Chicago would have a parade and interrupt parking, then Chicago has to pay, the Abu Dhabi fund and Wall Street company, what it would have made anyway. And this became such an awful disaster that finally Wall Street had to reverse the deal and undo it because it was giving privatization a bad name here.  The same thing happened in Indiana.

Indiana was running a deficit and it decided to sell its roads to a Wall Street investment firm to make a toll road. The toll on the Indiana turnpike was so high that drivers began to take over the side roads. That’s the problem if you sell future tax revenues in advance.

Now what China and the localities there are discussing is that we’ve already, given the real estate tax at very low estimates to the commercial developers, so what do we do? Well, what I’ve advised them to do, Alanna didn’t say it, but I’ve been a professor of economics at the Peking University, School of Marxist studies for three years, and I’ve had discussions with Central Committee members. I also have an honorary position at Wuhan University. We’ve discussed how China can put an added tax for all of the valuable land, that’s gone up. How can it be done to let the cities collect this tax? Our claim is that the cities, in selling these tax rights for 75 years, have sold what in Britain would be called ground rent. i.e. what’s paid to the landed aristocracy and over and above that there’s the market rent. So, China should pass a market rent tax over and above the ground rent tax to reflect the current value. And there they’re thinking of, well, do we say that this is a capital gain in the land? Well, it’s not really a capital gain until you sell the land, but it’s value. It’s the valuation of the capital. And they’re looking to do whether they should just say that this is the market rent tax over and above the flat tax that has been paid in advance, or it’s a land tax on the capital gain for land.

Now, all of this requires that there be a land map of the whole country. And they are just beginning to create such a land map as a basis for how you calculate how much the rent there is.  What I found in China is something very strange. A few years ago, in Beijing, they had the first, international Marxist conference where I was a main speaker and I was talking about Marx’s discussion of the history of rent theory in volume two and volume three of Capital where Marx discusses all of the classical economics that led up to his view; Adam Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, John Stuart Mill, and Marx’s Theories of Surplus Value was really the first history economic thought that was written, although it wasn’t published until after he died. Well, you could see that there was a little bit of discomfort with some of the Marxists at the conference. And so, they invited for the next time my colleague David Harvey to come and talk about Marxism in the West.

Well, David gave both the leading and the closing speech of the conference and said, you’ve got to go beyond volume one of Capital. Volume I was what Marx wrote as his addition to, classical economics saying that there was exploitation in industrial employment of labor as well as rent seeking and then he said, now that I’ve done my introduction here, let me talk about how capitalism works in Volumes II and III. Volumes II and III are all about rent and finance and David Harvey has published a book on Volume III of Capital and his message to Peking University and the second Marxist conference was – you’ve got to read volumes II, and III.

Well, you can see that, there’s a discussion now over what is Marxism and my friend and colleague at PKU Sasha Buzgalin said, Marxism is a Chinese word; It’s the Chinese word for politics. That made everything clear to me. Now I get it!  I’ve been asked by members of the Academy of Social Sciences in China to create a syllabus of the history of rent theory and value theory. And essentially in order to have an idea of how you calculate rent, how do you make a national income analysis where you show rent, you have to have a theory of value and price and rent is the excess of price over the actual cost value. Well, for that you need a concept of cost of production and that’s what classical economics is all about. Post-classical economics denies all of this. The whole idea of classical economics is that not all income is “earned.”

Landlords don’t earn their income for making rent in their sleep as John Stuart Mill said. Banks don’t earn their income by just sitting there and letting debts accrue interest and compounding and doubling. The classical economists separated actual unearned income from the production and consumption economy.

Well, around the late 19th century in America, you had economists fighting against not only Marx, but also against Henry George, who at that time, was urging a land tax in New York. And so, at Columbia university, John Bates Clark developed a theory that everybody earns whatever they can get. That there was no such thing as unearned income. That has become the basis for American national income statistics and thought ever since. So, if you look at today’s GDP figures for the United States, they have a figure for 8% of the GDP for the homeowners rent. But homeowners wouldn’t pay themselves if they had to rent the apartment to themselves, then you’ll have interest at about 12% of GDP.

And I thought, well how can interest be so steady? What happens to all of the late fees; that 29% that credit card companies charge? I called up the national income people in Washington, when was there. And they said well, late fees and penalties are considered financial services.

And so, this is what you call a service economy. Well, there’s no service in charging a late fee, but they add all of the late fees. When people can’t pay their debts and they owe more and more, all of that is considered an addition to GDP. When housing becomes more expensive and prices American labor out of the market, that’s called increase in GDP.

This is not how a country that wants to develop is going to create a national income account. So, there’s a long discussion in China about, just to answer your question, how do you create an account to distinguish between what’s the necessary cost to production and what’s an unnecessary production cost and how do we avoid doing what the United States did. So again, no rivalry. The United States is an object lesson for China as to what to avoid, not only in de-industrializing the economy, but in creating a picture of the economy as if everybody earns everything and there’s no exploitation, no unearned income, nobody makes money in their sleep and there’s no 1%. Well, that’s what’s really at issue and why the whole world is splitting apart, as you and I are discussing what we’re writing.

Pepe: Thank you, Michael. Thank you very much. So just to sum it all up, can we say that Beijing’s strategy is to save especially provincial areas from leasing their land, their infrastructure for 60 years or 75 years?  As you just mentioned, can we say that the fulcrum of their national strategy is what you define as the market rent tax. Is this the number one mechanism that they are developing?

Michael: Ideally, they want to keep rents as low as possible because rents is a cost of living and a cost of doing business. They don’t have banks that are lending to inflate the real estate market.

However, in almost every Western country, the US, Germany, England the value of stocks and bonds and the value of real estate is just about exactly the same. But for China, the value of real estate is way, way larger than the value of stocks.

And the reason is not because the Chinese central bank, the Bank of China lends for real estate; it’s because they lend to intermediaries and the intermediaries have financed a lot of housing purchases in China. And, this is really the problem for if they levy a land tax, then you’re going to make a lot of these financial intermediaries go bust.

That’s what I’m advocating, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. These financial intermediaries shouldn’t exist, and this same issue came up in 2009 in the United States. You had the leading American bank being the most crooked and internally corrupt bank in the country, Citibank making junk mortgage, and it was broke.

Its entire net worth was wiped out as a result of its fraudulent junk mortgages. Well, Sheila Bair, the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) wanted to close it down and take it over. Essentially that would have made it into a public bank and that would be a wonderful thing. She said, look Citibank shouldn’t be doing what it’s doing. And she wrote all this up in the in an autobiography. And, she was overruled by president Obama and Tim Geithner saying, but wait a minute, those are our campaign contributors. So, they were loyal to the campaign contributors, but not the voters; and they didn’t close Citibank down.

And the result is that the Federal Reserve ended up creating about $7 trillion of quantitative easing to bail out the banks. The homeowners weren’t bailed out.  10 million American families lost their homes as a result of junk mortgages in excess of what the property was actually worth.

All of this was left on the books, foreclosed and sold to a private capital companies like Blackstone. And the result is that home ownership in America declined from 68% of the population down to about 61%. Well, right where the Obama administration left off, you’re about to have the Biden administration begin in January with an estimated 5 million Americans losing their homes. They’re going to be evicted because they’ve been unemployed during the pandemic. They’ve been working in restaurants or gyms or other industries that have been shut down because of the pandemic. They’re going to be evicted and many homeowners and, low-income homeowners have been unable to pay their mortgages.

There’s going to be a wave of foreclosures. The question is, who’s going to bear the cost. Should it be 15 million American families lose their homes just so the banks won’t lose money, or should we let the banks that have made all of the growth since 2008. 95% of American GDP of the population has seen its wealth go down. All the wealth has been accumulating for the 5% in statistics. Now the question is should this 5% that’s got all the wealth lose or should the 95% lose. The Biden administration says the 95% should lose basically. And you’re going to see a wave of closures that the question in China should be that, these intermediate banks (that are near banks) they’re not really banks they are sort of like payday loan lenders, should they come in and, bear the loss or should Chinese localities and the people bear the loss. Somebody has to lose when you’re charging, you’re collecting the land’s rent that was paid to the creditors, and either the creditors have to lose or, the tax collector loses and that’s the conflict that exists in every society of the world today.  And, in the West, the idea is the tax collectors should lose and whatever the tax collector relinquishes should be free for the banks to collect. In China obviously, they don’t want that to happen and they don’t want to see a financial class developing along US lines.

Pepe: Michael, there’s a quick question in all this, which is the official position by Beijing in terms of helping the localities. Their official position is that there won’t be any bail outs of local debt. How do they plan to do that?

Michael: What they’re discussing, how are you not going to do it? They think they sort of let localities go their own way. And they think, well you know which ones are going to succeed, and which ones aren’t, they didn’t want to have a one size fits all central planning. They wanted to have flexibility. Well, now they have flexibility. And when you have many different “let a hundred flowers bloom”, not all the flowers are going to bloom at the same rate. And the question is, if they don’t bail out the cities, how are the cities going to operate? Certainly, China has never let markets steer the economy, the government steers the markets. That’s what socialism is as opposed to finance capitalism. So, the question is, you can let localities go broke and yet you’re not going to destroy any of the physical assets of the localities, and all of this is going to be in place. The question is, how are you going to arrange the flow of income to all of these roads and buildings and land that’s in place? How do you create a system?  Essentially, they’re saying well, if we’re industrial engineers, how do we just plan things? Forget credit, forget property claims, forget the rentier claims. How are we just going to design an economy that operates most efficiently? And that’s what they’re working on now to resolve this situation because it’s got fairly critical.

Pepe: Yes, especially in the countryside. Well, I think, a very good metaphor in terms of comparing both systems are investment in infrastructure. You travel to China a lot so, you’ve seen. You’ll travel through a high-speed rail. You’ll see those fantastic airports in Pudong or the new airport in Beijing.

And then you’ll take the Acela to go from Washington and New York city, which is something that I used to do years ago. And the comparison is striking. Isn’t it? Or if you go to France, for instance, when France started development of the TGV, which in terms of a national infrastructure network, is one of the best networks on the planet. And the French started doing this 30 year ago, even more. Is there……, it’s not in terms of way out, but if we analyze the minutia, it’s obvious that following the American finance utilization system, we could never have something remotely similar happening in United States in terms of building infrastructure.

So, do you see any realistic bypass mechanism in terms of improving American infrastructure, especially in the big cities?

Michael: No, and there are two reasons for that. Number one let’s take a look at the long-term railroads. The railroads go through the center of town or even in the countryside, all along the railroads, the railroads brought business and all the businesses had been located as close to the railroad tracks as they could. Factories with sightings off the railroad, hotels and especially right through the middle of town where you have the railway gates going up and down. In order to make a high-speed rail as in China, you need a dedicated roadway without trucks and cars, imagine a car going through a railway gate at 350 miles an hour.

So, when I would go from Beijing to Tienjin, here’s the high-speed rail, there’s one highway on one side. One highway on the other side, there’ll be underpasses. But there it goes straight now. How can you suppose you would have a straight Acela line from Washington up to Boston when all along the line, there’s all this real estate right along the line that has been built up? There’s no way you can get a dedicated roadway without having to tear down all of this real estate that’s on either side and the cost of making the current owners whole would be prohibitive. And anywhere you would go, that’s not in the center of the city, you would also have to have the problem that there’s already private property there.

And there there’s no legal constitutional way for such a physical investment to be made. China was able to make this investment because it was still largely rural. It wasn’t as built up along the railways. It didn’t have any particular area that was built up right where the railroad already was.

So certainly, any high-speed rail could not go where the current railways would be, and they’d have to go on somebody’s land. And, there’s also, what do you do if you want to get to New York and long Island off from New Jersey. 60 years ago, when I went into Wall Street, the cost of getting and transporting goods from California to Newark New Jersey was as large as from Newark right across the Hudson river to New York because not only because of the mafia and control of the local labor unions, but because of the tunnels. Right now, the tunnels from New Jersey to New York are broke, they are leaking, the subways in New York city where I am continually break down because there was a hurricane a few years ago and the switches were made in the 1940s. The switches are 80 years old. They had water damage and the trains have to go at a crawl. But the City and State, because it is not collecting the real estate tax and other taxes and because ridership fell on the subways to about 20%, the City’s broke. They’re talking about 70% of city services being cut back.

They’re talking about cutting back the subways to 40% capacity, meaning everybody will have to get in and, when there’s still a virus and not many people are wearing masks, and there was no means of enforcing masks here. So, there’s no way that you can rebuild the infrastructure because, for one thing the banking system here has subsidized for a hundred years junk economics saying you have to balance the budget. If the government create credit it’s inflationary as if when banks create credit, it’s not inflationary. Well, the monetary effect is the same, no matter who creates the money. And so, Biden has already said that president Trump ran a big deficit, we’re going to run a bunch of surpluses or a budget balance. And he was advocating that all along. Essentially Biden is saying we have to increase unemployment by 20%, lower wages by 20%, shrink the economy by about 10% in order to, in order for the banks not to lose money.

And, we’re going to privatize but we are going to do it by selling the hospitals, the schools, the parks, the transportation to finance, to Wall Street finance capital groups. And so, you can imagine what’s going to happen if the Wall Street groups buy the infrastructure. They’ll do what happened to Chicago when it sold all the parking meters, they’ll say, okay, instead of 25 cents an hour, it’s now charged $3 an hour. Instead of a $2 for the subway, let’s make it $8. You’re going to price American economy even further out of business because they say that public investment is socialism.

Well, it’s not socialism. It’s industrial capitalism. It’s industrialization, that’s basic economics. The idea of what, and how an economy works is so twisted academically that it’s the antithesis of what Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and Marx all talked about. For them a free market economy was an economy free of rentiers. Free of rent, it didn’t have any rent seeking. But now for the Americans, a free market economy is free for the rentiers, free for the landlords free, for the banks to make a killing. And that is basically the class war back in business with a vengeance. That blocks and is preventing any kind infrastructure recovery. I don’t see how it can possibly take place.

Pepe: Well, based on what you just described, there is a process of turning the United States into a giant Brazil. In fact, this is what the Brazilian finance minister Paulo Guedes, a Pinochetista, as you know Michael, has been doing with the Brazilian economy for the past two years, privatizing everything and selling everything to big Brazilian interests and with lots of Wall Street interests involved as well. So, this is a recipe that goes all across the global South as well. And it’s fully copied all across the global South with no way out now.

Michael: Yes, and this is promoted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. And when I was brought down to Brazil to meet with the council economic advisors under Lula, they said, well the whole problem is that Lula’s been obliged to let the banks do the planning.

So, basically free markets and libertarianism is adopting central planning, but with central planning by the banks. America is a much more centrally planned economy than China. China is letting a hundred flowers bloom; America has concentrated the planning and the resource allocation in Wall Street. And that’s the central planning that is much more corrosive than any government planning, could be. Now the irony is that China’s sending its students to America to study economics. And, most of the Chinese I had talked to say, well we went to America to take economics courses because that gives us a prestige here in China.

I’m working now, with Chinese groups trying to develop a “reality economics” to be taught in China as different from American economics.

Pepe: Exactly because of what they study at Beijing university, Renmin or Tsinghua

is not exactly what they would study in big American universities. Probably what they study in the US is what not to do in China. When they go back to China, what they won’t be doing. It’s an object lesson for what to avoid.

Michael, I’d like to go back to what the BRICS had been discussing the 2000s when Lula was still president of Brazil and many of his ideas deeply impressed, especially Hu Jintao at the time, which is bypassing the US Dollars. Well, at the moment obviously we’re still at 87% of international transactions still in US Dollars. So, we are very far away from it, but if you have a truly sovereign economy, which is the case of China, which we can say is the case of Russia to a certain extent and obviously in a completely different framework, Iran.

Iran is a completely sovereign, independent economy from the West. The only way to try to develop different mechanisms to not to fall into the rentier mind space would be to bypass the US Dollars.

Michael: Yes, for many reasons. For one thing the United States can simply print the Dollars and lend to other countries and then say, now you have to pay us interest. Well, Russia doesn’t need American Dollars. It can print its own Rubles to provide labor. There’s no need for a foreign currency at all for domestic spending, the only reason you would have to borrow a foreign currency is to balance your exchange rate, or to finance a trade deficit. But China doesn’t have a trade deficit. And in fact, if China were to work to accept more Dollars, Americans would love to buy into the Chinese market and make a profit there, but that would push up China’s exchange rate and that would make it more difficult for her to make its exports because the exchange rate would come up not because it’s exporting more but because it’s letting American Dollars come in and push it up. Well, fortunately, president Trump as if he works for the Chinese national committee said, look, we don’t want to really hurt China by pushing up its currency and said we want to keep it competitive. So, I’m going to prevent American companies from lending money to China, I’m going to isolate it and so he’s helping them protect their economy. And in Russia he said, look Russia really needs to feed itself. And, there’s a real danger that when the Democrats come in, there are a lot of anti-Russians in the Biden administration. They may go to war. They may do to Russia what they tried to do to China in the fifties. Stop exporting food and grain. And only Canada was able to break the embargo. So, we’re going to impose sanctions on Russia. So immediately, what happened is Russia very quickly became the largest grain exporter in the world. And instead of importing cheese from the Baltics, it created its own cheese industry. So, Trump said look, I know that Russians followed the American idea of not having protective tariffs, they need protective tariffs. They’re not doing it. We’re going to help them out by just not importing from them and really helping them.

Pepe: Yeah. Michael, what do you think Black Rock wants from the Chinese? You know that they are making a few inroads at the highest levels? Of course, I’m sure you’re aware of that. And also, JP Morgan, City Bank, etc.…. What do they really want?

Michael: They’d like to be able to create Dollars to begin to buy and make loans to real estate; let companies grow, let the real estate market grow and make capital gains.

The way people get wealthy today isn’t by making an income, it’s been by making a capital gain. Total returns are current income plus the capital gains. As for capital gains each year; the land value gains alone are larger than the whole GDP growth from year to year. So that’s where the money is, that’s where the wealth is. So, they are after speculative capital gains, they would like to push money into the Chinese stock market and real estate market. See the prices go up and then inflate the prices by buying in and then sell out at the high price. Pull the money out, get a capital gain and let the economy crash, I mean that’s the business plan.

Pepe: Exactly. But Beijing will never allow that.

Michael: Well, here’s the problem right now, they know that Biden is pushing militarily aggressive people in his cabinet. There’s one kind of overhead that China is really trying to avoid and that’s the military overhead because if you spend money on the military, you can’t spend it on the real economy. They’re very worried about the military and they say, how do we deter the Biden administration from actually trying a military adventure in the China sea or elsewhere. They said well, fortunately America is multilayered. They don’t think of America as a group. They realize there’s a layer and they say, who’s going to represent our interests.

Well, Blackstone and Wall Street are going to represent their interests. Then I think one of the, Chinese officials last week gave a big speech on this very thing, saying look, our best hope in stopping America’s military adventurism in China is to have Wall Street acting as our support because after all, Wall Street is the main campaign contributor and the president works for the campaign contributors.

The politician works for the campaign contributors. They’re in it for the money! So fortunately, we have Wall Street on our side, we’ve got control of the political system and they’re not there to go to war so that helps explain why a month ago they let a wholly owned US banks and bankers in. On the one hand, they don’t like the idea of somebody outside the government creating credit for reasons that the economy doesn’t need. If they kind of needed it, the bank of China would do it. They have no need for foreign currency to come in to make loans in domestic currency, out of China.

The only reason that they could do it is number one, it helps meet the world trade organization’s principles and, number two especially during this formative few months of the Biden administration, it helps to have Wall Street saying; we can make a fortune in China, go easy on them and that essentially counters the military hawks in Washington.

Pepe: So, do you foresee a scenario when Black Rock starts wreaking havoc in the Shanghai stock exchange for instance?

Michael: It would love to do that. It would love to move things up and down. The money’s made by companies with the stock market going up and down; the zigzag. So of course, it wants to do a predatory zigzag. The question is whether China will impose a tax to stop this all sorts of financial transactions. That’s what’s under discussion now. They know exactly what Black Rock wants to do because they have some very savvy billionaire Chinese advisers that are quite good. I can tell you stories, but I better not.

Pepe: Okay. If it’s not okay to tell it all, tell us part of the story then.

Michael: The American banks have been cultivating leading Chinese people by providing them enough money to make money here, that they think that, okay they will now try to make money in the same way in China and we can join in. It’s a conflict of systems again, between the finance capital system and industrial socialism. You don’t get any of this discussion in the U S press, which is why I read what you write because in the US press, the neocons talk about

the fake idea of Greek history and fake idea of the Thucydides’ problem of a country jealous of another country’s development. There’s no jealousy between America and China. They’re different, they are own way. We are going to destroy them. And if you look at what the analogy that the Americans draw, and this is how the Pentagon thinks with the war between Athens and Sparta. It’s hard to tell, which is which. Here you have Athens, a democracy backing other democracies and having the military support of the democracies and the military in these democracies all had to pay Athens protection money for the military support and that’s the money that Athens got to ostensibly support its Navy and protection that built up all of the Athenian public buildings and everything else. So, that’s a democracy exploiting its allies, to enrich itself via the military. Then you have Sparta, which was funding all of the oligarchies, and it was helping the oligarchies overthrow democracies. Well, that was America too. So, America is both sides of the Thucydides war.  If the democracy is exploiting the fellow democracies and is the supporter of oligarchies in Brazil, Latin America, Africa, and everyone else.

So, you could say the Thucydides problem was between two sides, two aspects of America and has nothing to do with China at all except, for the fact that the whole war was a war between economic systems. And that’s what’s they’re acting as if somehow if only China did not export to us, we could be re-industrialized and somehow export to Europe and the Third World.

And as you and I have described, it’s over. We Americans painted ourselves into such a debt corner that without writing down the debts, were in the same position that the Eurozone is in. There’s so much money that goes to the creditors to the top 1% or 5% that there is no money for capital investment, there is no money for growth. And, since 1980 as you know, real wages in America have been stable. All the growth has been in property owners and predators and the FIRE sector, the rest of the economy is in stagnation. And now the coronavirus has simply acted as a catalyst to make it very clear that the game is over; it’s time to move away from the homeowner economy to rentier economy, time for Blackstone to be the landlord. America wants to recreate the British landlord class and essentially what we’re seeing now is like the Norman invasion of England taking over the land and the infrastructure. That’s what Blackstone would love to do in China.

Pepe: Wow. I’m afraid that they may have a lot leeway by some members of the Beijing leadership now, because as you know very well, it’s not a consensus in the political arena.

Michael: We’re talking about Volume II and III of Capital.

Pepe: Exactly. But you know, you were talking about debt. Coming back to that, in fact I just checked this morning, apparently global debt as it stands today is $277 trillion, which is something like 365% of global GDP. What does that mean in practice?

Michael: Yeah, well fortunately this is discussed in the 19th century and there was a word for that – fictitious capital – it’s a debt that can’t be paid, but you’ll keep it on the books anyway. And every country has this. You could say the question now, and the Financial Times just had an article a few days ago that China’s claims on Third World countries on the Belt and Road Initiative is fictitious capital, because how can it collect. Well, China’s already thought of that. It doesn’t want money. It wants the raw materials. It wants to be paid in real things. But a debt that can’t be paid, can only be paid either by foreclosing on the debtors or by writing down the debts and obviously a debt of can’t be paid won’t be paid.

And so, you have not only Marx using the word fictitious capital. At the other end of the spectrum, you had Henry George talking about fictive capital. In other words, these are property claims that have no real capital behind them. There’s no capital that makes profit. That’s just a property claim for payment or a rentier claim for payment.

So, the question is, can you make money somehow without having any production at all, without having wages without having profits without any capital? Can you just have asset grabbing and buying and selling assets. And as long as you have the Federal Reserve in America, come in, Trump’s $10 trillion COVID program gave 2 trillion to the population at large with these $1,200 checks, that my wife and I got and 8 trillion all just to buy stocks and bonds. None of this was to build infrastructure. None of this 8 trillion was to build a single factory. None of this 8 trillion was to employee a single worker. It was all just to support the prices of stocks and bonds, and to keep the illusion that the economy had not stopped growing. Well, it’s growing for the 5%. So, it’s all become fictitious. And if you look at the GDP as I said, it’s fictitious.

Pepe: And the most extraordinary thing is none of that is discussed in American media. Absolutely, there’s not a single word about what you would have been describing.

Michael: And it’s not even discussed in academia. Our graduates at the University of Missouri at Kansas City are all trained in Modern Monetary Theory. And to be hired as professors, they have to be able to publish in the refereed journals and the refereed journals are all essentially controlled by the Chicago school. So, you have a censorship of the kind of ideas that we’re talking about. You can’t get it into the economic journals, so you can’t get it into the economics curriculum. So, where on earth you’re going to get it. If you didn’t have the internet you wouldn’t be discussing at all. Most of my books sell mainly in China, more than in all the other countries put together so I can discuss these there. I stopped publishing in orthodox journals so many years ago because it’s talking to the deaf.

Pepe: Absolutely. Yeah. Can I ask you a question about Russia, Michael? There is a raging, debate in Russia for many years now between let’s say the Eurasianists and the Atlanticists. It involves of course, economic policy under Putin, industrial capitalism Russian style, and the Eurasianists basically say that the central problem with Russia is how the Russian central bank is basically affiliated with all the mechanisms that you know so well, that it is an Atlanticist trojan horse inside the Russian economy. How do you see it?

Michael: Russia was brainwashed by the West when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. First of all, the IMF announced in advance that there was a big meeting in Houston with the IMF and the World Bank. And the IMF published all of its report saying, first you don’t want inflation in Russia so let’s wipe out all of the Russian savings with hyperinflation, which they did. They then said, well now to cure the hyperinflation the Russian central bank needs a stable currency and you need a backup for the currency. You will need to back it with US Dollars. So, from the early 1990s, as you know, labor was going unpaid. The Russian central bank could have created the rubles to pay the domestic labor and to keep the factories in place. But, the IMF advisors from Harvard said, no you’ll have to borrow US Dollars. I met with people from the Hermitage Fund and the Renaissance Fund and others, we had meetings and, I met with the investors. Russia was paying 100% interest for years to leading American financial institutions for money that it didn’t need and could have created itself. Russia was so dispirited with Stalinism that essentially that it thought, what’s the opposite of Stalinism must be what they have in America.

They thought that America was going to tell it how America got rich, but America didn’t want to tell Russia how it got rich, but instead wanted to make money off Russia. They didn’t get it. They trusted the Americans. They really didn’t understand that, industrial capitalism that Marx described had metamorphosized into finance capitalism and was completely different.

And that’s because Russia didn’t charge rent, it didn’t charge interest. I gave three speeches before the Duma, urging it to impose a land tax. Some of the people I noticed, Ed Dodson was there with us and we were all trying to convince Russia, don’t let this land be privatized. If you let it be privatized, then you’re going to have a such high rents and housing costs in Russia that you’re not going to be able to essentially compete for an industrial growth. Well, the politician who brought us there Vyatchislav Zvolinsky was sort of maneuvered out of the election by the American advisors.

The Americans put billions of Dollars in to essentially finance American propagandists to destroy Russia, mainly from the Harvard Institute of International Development. And essentially, they were a bunch of gangsters and the prosecutors in Boston were about to prosecute them.

So, the attorney general of Boston was going to bring a big case for Harvard against, the looting of Russia and the corruption of Russia. And I was asked to organize and to bring a number of Russian politicians and industrialists over to say how, this destroyed everything. Well, Harvard settled out of court and essentially that made the perpetrators the leading university people up there. I’m associated with Harvard Anthropology Department, not the Economics Department.

So, we never had a chance to bring my witnesses, and have our report on what happened, but I published for the Russian Academy of sciences a long study of how all of this destruction of Russia was laid out in advance at the Houston meetings by the IMF. America went to the leading bureaucrats and said; look, we can make you rich why don’t you register the factories in your own name, and if you’re registered in your own name, you know, then you’ll own it. And then you can cash out. You can essentially sell, but obviously you can’t sell to the Russians because the IMF have just wiped out all of their savings.

You can only cash out by selling to the West. And so, Russia’s stock market became the leading stock market in the world from 1994 with the Norilsk Nickel and the seven bankers in the bank loans for shares deal through 1997. And, I had worked for a firm Scudder Stevens and, the head advisor, a former student of mine didn’t want to invest in Russia because she said, this is just a rip off, it’s going to crash. She was fired for not investing. They said look, we know that’s going to crash. That’s the whole idea it’s going to crash. We can make a mint off it before the crash. And then when it crashes, we can make another mint by selling short and then all over again. Well, the problem is that the system that was put in with the privatization that’s occurred, how do you have Russia’s wealth used to develop its own industry and its own economy like China was doing. Well, China has rules for all of this, but Russia doesn’t have rules, it’s really all centralized it’s president Putin that keeps it this way.

Well, this was the great fear of the West. When you had Yevgeny Primakov, beginning to plan, to do pretty much what is done today, to restrain private capital, the IMF said hold off is that we’re not going to make any loans to stabilize the Russian currency until you remove Mr. Primakov.

The US said we won’t deal with Russia until you remove him. So, he was pushed out and he was probably the smartest guy at the time there. So, they thought the Putin was going to be sort of the patsy. And he sort of almost single-handedly holding the oligarchs in and saying, look, you can keep your money as long as you do exactly what the government would do. You can keep the gains as long as you’re serving the public interest, but none of this has resulted in a legal system, a tax system, and a system where the government actually does get most of the benefits. Russia could have emerged in 1990 as one the most competitive economy in Eurasia by giving all of the houses to its people instead of giving Norilsk Nickel and the oil companies to Yukos, it could have given everybody their own house and their own apartment, the same thing in the Baltics. And instead it didn’t give the land out to the people. And Russians were paying 3% of their income for housing in 1990. And rent is the largest element in every household’s budget. So, Russia could have had low price labor, it could have financed all of its capital investment for the government by taxing, collecting the rising rental value and instead, Russian real estate was privatized on credit and it was even worse in the Baltics. In Latvia, where I was research director for the Riga Graduate School of Law, Latvia borrowed primarily from Swedish banks. And so, in order to buy a house, you had to borrow from Swedish banks.

And they said, well, we’re not going to lend in the Latvian currency because it can go down. So, you have a choice; Swiss Francs or German Marks or US Dollars. And so, all of this rent was paid in foreign currency. There came an outflow that essentially drained all the Baltic economies, Latvia lost 20% of its population, Estonia, Lithuania followed suit.

And of course, the worst hit by neo-liberalism was Russia. As you know, president Putin said that neo-liberalism cost Russia more of its population than World War II. And you know that to destroy a country, you don’t need an army anymore. All you have to do is teach it American economics.

Pepe: Yes, I remember well, I arrived in Russia in the winter of 91 coming from China. So, I transited from the Chinese miracle. In fact, a few days after Deng Xiaoping’s famous Southern tour when he went to Guangzhou and Shenzhen.  And that was the kick for the 1990’s boom, in fact now a few years before the handover and then I took the Trans-Siberian and I arrived in Moscow a few days after the end, in fact, a few weeks after the end of the Soviet Union.

But yeah, I remember the Americans arrived almost at the exact minute, wasn’t it, Michael? I think they already were there in the spring of 1992. If I’m not mistaken.

Michael:  The Houston meeting was in 1990.  But all before that already in, 1988 and 1989, there was a huge outflow of embezzlement money via Latvia. The assistant dean of the university, Gregor Lautchansky,  who ended up creating Nordex. Essentially the money was all flying out because Ventspils in Latvia, was where Russian oil was exported and it was all fake invoicing. So, the Russian kleptocrats basically made their money off false export invoicing, ostensibly selling it for one price and having the rest paid abroad and, this was all organized through Latvia and the man who did it later moved to Israel and finally gave a billion Dollars back to Russia so that, he went on to live safely for the rest of his life in Israel.

Pepe: Well, the crash of the Ruble in 1998 was what, roughly one year after the crash of the Bath and the whole Asian financial crisis, no? it was interlinked of course, but let me see if I have a question for you, in fact, I’m just thinking out loud now. If the economies of Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia, the case of South Korea and Russia were more integrated at the time as they are trying to integrate now, do you think that the Asian financial crisis would have been preventable in 1997?

Michael: Well, look at what happened in Malaysia with Mohammed Mahathir. Malaysia avoided it. So of course, it was preventable. They had capital controls. All you would have needed was to do what Malaysia did. But you needed an economic theory for that.

And essentially the current mode of warfare is to conquer the brains of a country to shape how people think and how they perceive the economy from working. And if you can twist their view into an unreality economics, where they think that you’re there to help them not to take money out of them, then you’ve got them hooked. That was what happened in Asia. Asia thought it was getting rich off the Dollars inflows and then the IMF and all the creditors pulled the plug, crash the industry. And now that all of a sudden you had a crash, they bought up Korean industry and other South Asian industries at giveaway prices.

That’s what you do. You lend the money; you pull the plug. You then let them go under and you pick up the pieces. That’s what Blackstone did after the Obama depression began, when Obama saved the banks, not the constituency, the mortgage borrowers. Essentially that’s Blackstone’s modus operandi to pick up distressed prices at a bankruptcy sale, but you need to lend money and then crash it in order to make that work.

Pepe: Michael, I think we have only five minutes left. So, I would expect you to go on a relatively long answer and I’m really dying for it. It’s about debt, it about the debt that trap. And it’s about the New Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative, because I think rounding up our discussion and coming back to the theme of debt and global debt. The number one criticism apart from the demonization of China that you hear from American media and a few American academics as well against the Belt and Road is that it’s creating a debt trap for Southeast Asian nations, Central Asian nations and nations in Africa, etc…. Obviously, I expect you to debunk that, but the framework is there is no other global development project as extensive and as complex as Belt and Road, which as you know, very well was initially dreamed up by the ministry of commerce. Then they, sold it more or less to Xi Jinping who got the geopolitical stamp on it, announcing it, simultaneously, (which was a stroke of genius) in Central Asia in Astana and then in Southeast Asia in Jakarta. So, he was announcing that the overland corridors through the heartland and the Maritime Silk Road at the same time. At the time people didn’t see the reach and depth of all that. And now of course, finally the Trump administration woke up and saw what was in play, not only across Eurasia but reaching Africa and even selected parts of Latin America as well. And obviously the only sort of criticism and, it’s not even a fact-based criticism, that I’ve seen about the Belt and Road is it’s creating a debt wrap because as you know Laos is indebted, Sri Lanka is indebted, Kyrgyzstan is indebted etc…. So, how do you view Belt and Road within the large framework of the West and China, East Asia and Eurasia relations? And how would you debunk misconceptions created, especially in the U S that this is a debt trap.

Michael: There are two points to answer there.  The first is how the Belt and Road began. And as you pointed out, the Belt and Road began, when China said, what is it we need to grow and how do we grow within our neighboring countries so we don’t have to depend upon the West, and we don’t have to depend on sea trade that can be shut down. How do we get to roads instead of seas in a way that we can integrate our economy with the neighboring economies so that there can be mutual growth? So, this was done pretty much on industrial engineering grounds. Here’s where you need the roads and the railroads. And then how do we finance it? Well, the Financial Times article, last week asked, Didn’t the Chinese know that railroad development, they’ve all gone broke. The Panama Canal went broke, you know, the first few times there were European railway investment in Latin America in the 19th century, that all went broke. Well, what they don’t get is China’s aim was not to make a profit off the railroads. The railroads were built to be part of the economy. They don’t want to make profit. It was to make the real economy grow, not to make profits for the owners of the railroad stocks. The Western press can’t imagine that you’re building a railroad without trying to make money out of it.

Then you get to the debt issue. Countries only have a debt crisis if their debt is in a foreign currency. The first way that the United States gained power was to fight against its allies. The great enemy of America was England and it made the British block their currency in the 1940s. And so, India and other countries, that had all these currencies holdings in Sterling, we’re able to convert it all into Dollars. The whole move of the US was to denominate, world debt in Dollars. So that number one US banks would end up with the interest in financing the debt. And number two, the United States could by using the debt leverage control domestic politics. Well, as you’re seeing right now in Argentina, for instance, Argentina is broke because it owes foreign Dollars debt. When I started the first third world bond fund in 1990 at Scudder Stevens, Brazil in China and Argentina, we’re paying 45% interest per year, 45% per year in Dollarized debt. Yet we tried to sell them in America, no American would buy. We went to Europe, no European buy this debt. And so, we worked with Merrill Lynch and Merrill Lynch was able to make an offshore fund in the Dutch West Indies and all of the debt was sold to the Brazilian ruling class in the central bank and the Argentinian bankers in the ruling class, we thought oh, that’s wonderful.

We know that they’re going to pay the foreign Yankee Dollars debt because the Yankee Dollars debt is owed to themselves. They’re the Yankees! They’re the client oligarchy. And you know, from Brazil client oligarchy is, you know, they’re cosmopolitan, that’s the word. So, the problem is that on the Belt and Road, how did these other countries pay the debt to China?

Well, the key there again is the de-dollarization, and one way to solve it is since we’re trying to get finance out of the picture, we’re doing something very much like, Japan did with Canada in the 1960s. It made loans to develop Canadian copper mines taking its payment, not in Canadian Dollars, that would have pushed up the Yen’s exchange rate but in copper. So, China says, you know you don’t have to pay currency for this debt. We didn’t build a railroad to make a profit and you want, we can print all the currency we want. We don’t need to make a profit. We made the Belt and Road because it’s part of our geopolitical attempt to create what we need to be prosperous and have a prosperous region. So, these are self-reinforcing mutual gain. Well, so that’s what the West doesn’t get – Mutual gain?  Are we talking anthropology? What do you mean mutual? This is capitalism! So, the West doesn’t understand what the original aim of the Belt and Road was, and it wasn’t to make a profitable railroad to enable people to buy and sell railway stocks. And it wasn’t to make toll roads to sell off to Goldman Sachs, you know. We’re dealing with two different economic systems, and it’s very hard for one system to understand the other system because of the tunnel vision that you get when you get a degree in economics.

Pepe:  Belt on Road loans are a long-term and at very low interest and they are renegotiable. They are renegotiating with the Pakistanis all the time for instance.

Michael: China’s intention is not to repeat an Asia crisis of 1997. It doesn’t gain anything by forcing a crisis because it’s not trying to come in and buying property at a discount at a distressed sale. It has no desire to create a distressed sale. So obviously, the idea is the capacity to pay. Now, this whole argument occurred in the 1920s, between Keynes and his opponents that wanted to collect German reparations and, Keynes made it very clear. What is the capacity to pay? It’s the ability to export and the ability to obtain foreign currency. Well, China’s not looking for foreign currency. It is looking for, economic returns but the return is to the whole society, the return isn’t from a railroad. The return is for the entire economy because it’s looking at the economy as a system.

The way that neoliberalism works, it divides the economy into parts, and it makes every part try to make a gain. If you do that, then you don’t have any infrastructure that’s lowering the cost for the other parts. You have every part fighting for itself. You don’t look in terms of a system the way China’s looking at it. That’s the great advantage of Marxism, you’ll look at the system, not just at the parts.

Pepe:  Exactly and this is that at the heart of the Chinese concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, which is the approximate translation from Mandarin. So, we compare community with a shared future for mankind, which is, let’s say the driving force between the idea of Belt and Road, expanded across Eurasia, Africa and Latin America as well with our good old friends’, “greed is good” concept from the eighties, which is still ruling America apparently.

Michael: And the corollary is that non greed is bad

Pepe: Exactly and non-greed is evil.

Michael: I see. I think we ran out of time. I do. I don’t know if Alanna that one wants to step in to wrap it up.

Michael: There may be somebody who has a question.

Pepe: Somebody has a question? That’ll be fantastic.

Alanna: Okay. Alanna here. This has been just great guys. I mean, this is the only webinar I’ve been on where the attendance kept increasing with time instead of decreasing.

So, we had spam in the chat but there is a one question that was good from Ed Dodson. He wanted to know why there are these ghost cities in China and he who’s financing all this real estate that’s developed, but nobody’s living there. We’ve all been hearing about that. So, what is happening with that?

Michael: Okay. China had most of its population living in the countryside and it made many deals with Chinese landholders who have land rights, and they said, if you will give up your land right to the community, we will give you free apartment in the city that you could rent out.

So, China has been building apartments in cities and trading these basically in exchange for support what used to be called a rural exodus. China doesn’t need as many farmers on the land is it now has, and the question is how are you going to get them into cities? So, China began building these cities and many of these apartments are owned by people who’ve got them in exchange for trading their land rights. The deals are part of the rural reconstruction program.

Alanna: Do you think it was a good deal? Vacant apartments everywhere.

Pepe: You don’t have ghost cities in Xinjiang for instance, Xinjiang is under-populated, it’s mostly desert. And it’s extremely sensitive to relocate people to Xinjiang. So basically, they concentrated on expanding Urumqi. When you arrive in Urumqi is like almost like arriving in, Guangzhou. It’s enormous. It’s a huge generic sitting in the middle of the desert. And it’s also a high-tech Mecca, which is something that very few people in the West know. And is the direct link between the eastern seaboard via Belt and Road to Central Asia.

Last year I was on an amazing trip. I went to the three borders, the Tajik-Xinjiang border, Kirgiz-Xinjiang border and the Kazakh-Xinjiang border, which is three borders in one. It’s a fascinating area to explore and specially to talk to the local populations, the Kirgiz, the Kazakhs and the Tadjik’s how do they see the Belt and Road directly affecting their lives from now on. So, you don’t see something spectacular for instance, in the Xinjiang – Kazakh boarder, there is one border for the trucks, lots of them like in Europe, crossing from all points, from central Asia to China and bringing Chinese merchandise to central Asia.

There’s the train border, which is a very simple two tracks and the pedestrian boarder, which is very funny because you have people arriving in buses from all parts of Central Asia. They stop on the Kazakh border. They take a shuttle, they clear customs for one day, they go to a series of shopping malls on the Chinese side of the border. They buy like crazy, shop till it drops, I don’t know for 12 hours? And then they cross back the same day because the visa is for one day. They step on their buses and they go back. So, for the moment it’s sort of a pedestrian form of belt and road, but in the future, we’re going to have high-speed rail. We’re going to have, well the pipelines are already there as Michael knows, but it’s fascinating to see on the spot. You see the closer integration; you see for instance Uyghurs traveling back and forth. You know, Uyghurs that have families in Kirgizstan for instance, I met some Uyghurs in Kyrgyzstan who do the back and forth all the time. And they said, there’s no problem. They are seen as businessmen so there’s no interference. There are no concentration camps involved, you know, so but it’s you have to you have to go to these places to see how it works on the ground and with COVID, that’s the problem for us journalists who travel, because for one year we cannot go anywhere and Xinjiang was on my travel list this year, Afghanistan as well, Mongolia.

These are all parts of Belt and Road or future parts of Belt and Road, like Afghanistan. The Chinese and the Russians as well; they want to bring Afghanistan in a peace process organized by Asians themselves without the United States, within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, because they want Afghanistan to be part of the intersection of Belt and Road and Eurasian Economic Union. This is something Michael knows very well. You don’t see this kind of discussions in the American media for instance, you know integration of Eurasia on the ground, how it’s actually happening.

Michael: That’s called cognitive dissonance.

Alanna: To try to understand it gets you cognitive dissonance.

Pepe: Oh yeah, of course. And obviously you are a Chinese agent, a Russian agent. And so, I hear that all the time. Well, in our jobs we hear that all the time. Especially unfortunately from our American friends.

Alanna: Okay. I know you have other things to do. This has been fabulous. I want to thank you so much, both of you, uh, with so easy to get attendance for this webinar. There were 20 people in five minutes enrolled and in two days we were at capacity. So, I know there are many more people who would love to hear you talk another time, whenever you two are so willing. And I think you both got much out of your first conversation in person. Everybody listening knows these two wonderful gentlemen, they have written more than 10 books, and they have traveled all over the world. They are on the top of geopolitical and geonomic analysis, and they are caring, loving people. So, you can see that these are the people we need to be listening to and understanding all around the world.

So, thank you so much. Ibrahima Drame from the Henry George School is now going to say goodbye to you and will wrap this up.  Thank you again.

Pepe: Michael it was a huge pleasure. Really, it was fantastic. Really nice, we’re on the same website. So, let’s have a second version of this.

Ibrahima:  So, let’s have a second version of this two months from now. Thank you very much for participating and I really hope you liked this event. And, we also want to ask for your support by making a tax-deductible donation to the Henry George School. I believe I shared the link on the chat. Thank you. And see you soon.

Pepe: Thank you very much. Thanks Michael. Bye!

[1] When I said that China can pay lower wages than the U.S., what I meant was that China provides as public services many things that American workers have to pay out of their own pockets – such as health care, free education, subsidized education, and above all, much lower debt service.

When workers have to go into debt in order to live, they need much higher wages to keep solvent. When they have to pay for their own health insurance, they have to earn more. The same is true of education and student debt. So much of what Americans seem to be earning more than workers in other countries goes right through their hands to the financial sector, landlords and insurance companies – the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector. So, what seems to be “low wages” in China go a lot further than higher wages in the United States.

Blood Gold

Blood Gold

PressTV Interview with Peter Koenig

Transcript

Background

The Middle East Eye reports  there are no gold mines under Dubai’s sands with artisanal miners or children toiling away trying to strike gold. But there is the Dubai Gold Souk and refineries that vie with the largest global operations as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) strives to expand its position as a major gold hub.

In recent years, the UAE, with Dubai in particular, has established itself as one of the largest and fastest-growing marketplaces for the precious metal, with imports rising by 58 percent per annum to more than $27bn in 2018, according to data collated by the Observatory for Economic Complexity.

With no local gold to tap, unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia, the UAE has to import gold from wherever it can, whether it be legitimately, smuggled with no questions asked, sourced from conflict zones, or linked to organized crime.

Blood gold

The Sentry’s investigation (Sentry Investigations specialize in private and corporate investigations in the UK) found that 95 percent of gold officially exported from Central and East Africa, much of it mined in Sudan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, ends up in the Emirates.

Gold has become so important to Dubai’s economy that it is the emirate’s highest value external trade item, ahead of mobile phones, jeweler, petroleum products and diamonds, according to Dubai Customs.

And it is the UAE’s largest export after oil, exporting $17.7bn in 2019. Gold’s importance has only increased as Dubai’s oil reserves have dwindled and the UAE has tried to diversify its economy.

The Swiss connection

Dubai is not the only gold player with dirt, and even blood, on its hands.

“It is not just Dubai, it’s also Switzerland. The Swiss get large quantities of gold from Dubai. The Swiss say they are not getting gold from certain countries [connected to conflict gold], but instead from Dubai, yet the gold in Dubai is coming from these countries. Dubai is complicit, but Swiss hands are equally dirty as they can’t cut Dubai from the market,” said Lakshmi Kumar, policy director, at Global Financial Integrity (GFI) in Washington DC.

Switzerland is the world’s largest refiner, while [more than half] of all gold goes through the country at some point, according to anti-corruption group Global Witness. Switzerland’s trade is tied to the UK, which imports around a third of all gold.

—————-

RT Question:
Gold has become such an important commodity for the UAE, that it is the largest export after oil, exporting $17.7bn in 2019. But there is the other side to this story. A report by the UK’s Home Office and Treasury earlier in December also named the UAE as a jurisdiction vulnerable to money laundering by criminal networks because of the ease with which gold and cash could be moved through the country. Is this the case?

PK Reply
First, International Gold Laundering is a gigantic Human Rights abuse, foremost because laundered gold stems from many countries in Africa and South America where massive child labor is practiced. Children not only are put at tremendous risk working in the mines, in narrow rickety underground tunnels that could collapse anytime, and often do – but they are also poisoned on a daily basis by chemicals used in extracting gold ore from the rock, notably cyanide and mercury – and others.

Second, Gold laundering is an international crime, because it illegal and it is mostly run by mafia type organizations – where killing and other type of violence, plus sexual abuse of women – forced prostitution – is a daily occurrence.

There should be an international law – enforceable – issued by the UN – and enforced by the International Criminal Court against anything to do with gold laundering. Infractions should be punished. And countries involved in gold laundering should be held responsible – put on a black list for illegal financial transactions and for facilitating human rights abuses.

The United Arab Emirates — has no gold, so all of the $17.7 billion of their gold exports is being imported and “washed” by re-exporting it mainly through the UK into Switzerland and other gold refining places, like India. With a worldwide production of about 3,500 tons, there are times when Switzerland imports more gold than the annual world production, most of it coming from the UK, for further refining or re-refining, for “better or double laundering” – erasing the gold’s origins.

From the refinery in Switzerland, it goes mostly into the banking system or is re-exported as “clean” gold coming from Switzerland. And its origins are no longer traceable.

Worldwide about 70% of all gold is refined in Switzerland.

Gold mine production totaled 3,531 tons in 2019, 1% lower than in 2018. About 70% of all gold, worldwide is refined in Switzerland. So, it is very likely that the UK, receiving gold from United Arab Emirates, re-exports the gold to Switzerland, for re-refining, for further export to, for ex. India. – Coming from Switzerland it has the “label” of being clean. How long will this reputation still last?

Metalor is the world’s largest gold refinery – established in Switzerland. And they are absolutely secretive, do not say where they buy their gold from, because the Swiss Government does not require the origin when gold enters Switzerland.

Once it is refined – the origin can no longer be determined, because gold does not have a DNA.

RT Question
The Sentry’s investigation found that 95 percent of gold officially exported from Central and East Africa, much of it mined in Sudan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, ends up in the emirate, through what’s known as blood gold: gold obtained through brutal mining practices and illicit profits, including the use of children, how do you see this?

PK Reply
Yes, this is absolutely true.

As mentioned already before – much of the gold from Africa / Central Africa, Ghana and South America, notably Peru, is blood gold. Of course, it passes through many hands before it lands in a refinery in the UK, Switzerland or elsewhere, and therefore is almost untraceable.

But, the company that buys the gold, like Metalor, they know exactly where the gold is coming from, but, as mentioned before, since the Swiss government does not require the importing company to divulge the origin of the gold – the human rights abuses will never come to light, or better – to justice.

It is estimated that up to 30% of all gold refined in Switzerland is considered blood gold. Imagine the suffering, disease, and even death – or delayed death through slow reacting chemicals like cyanite and mercury.

However, if there is no international law – a law that is enforced – that puts the criminals to justice – and put countries that facilitate gold laundering on an international list – for the world to see – and hold them accountable, with for example financial sanctions, little will change.

Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Nasrallah in public dialogue: Loyalty to Suleimani and fairness to Assad نصرالله في حوار العام: الوفاء لسليمانيّ وإنصاف الأسد

**Please scroll down for the English Machine translation**

نصرالله في حوار العام: الوفاء لسليمانيّ وإنصاف الأسد

ناصر قنديل

في الحوار الغنيّ والمليء بالمعاني والمعادلات والمعلومات، الذي أجراه الزميل غسان بن جدو مع الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، محاور كثيرة، لبنانيّة وعربيّة وإقليميّة ودوليّة، لكن في الحوار ثوابت ومحاور دار حولها كلام السيد نصرالله في العقل والقلب والمشاعر، أبرزها ما اتصل بالوفاء لقائد فيلق القدس في الحرس الثوري الإيراني الجنرال قاسم سليماني، وما اتصل بإنصاف الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، فقد مدّ السيّد يده الى جعبته المليئة بالمعلومات ليكشف ما لم يُقَلْ من قبل ولم يكن في التداول، ليقدّم منها ما يكشف عن جوانب مضيئة في سيرة الشخصيتين اللتين تعنيان الكثير للسيد كما كان واضحاً من مسار الحوار.

في الحديث عن الحاج قاسم، كما يُناديه السيد، تناول السيد نصرالله شخصية الحاج قاسم كمثقف ومناضل ومفكّر وقائد عسكري استراتيجي، وكإنسان مرهَف مؤمن ومتواضع وخلوق وصاحب لهفة ونخوة وشهامة وكرم، لكنه خلال استعراضه للأوضاع في المنطقة كشف أدواراً تاريخية للشهيد سليماني، تُعرَف للمرة الأولى، سواء على مستوى التفكير او التخطيط او المتابعة او التنفيذ، فما يعلمه الناس عن دور قياديّ ميدانيّ للحاج قاسم في حربي سورية والعراق بوجه الإرهاب التكفيريّ، ترجمه في الحضور في المواقع الأماميّة للقتال وتحدّي الخطر ليس إلا القليل مما يمكن قوله عن سيرة هذا القائد.

في فلسطين الحاج قاسم صاحب فكرة تزويد المقاومة بصواريخ الكورنيت، وهي الصواريخ التي نالها حزب الله كمساهمة من القيادة السوريّة بقرار من الرئيس بشار الأسد، والتي لعبت دوراً حاسماً في صناعة انتصار المقاومة في حرب تموز 2006، وشكلت بعد وصولها إلى غزة، عنصراً حاسماً في تشكيل عامل الردع الحاسم في وجه مخططات الهجوم البرّي، وفي العراق لم يكن الحاج قاسم قائد المواجهة مع تنظيم داعش وحسب، بل كان العمود الفقري لتشكيلات حركات المقاومة التي فرضت على الأميركيّ الانسحاب عام 2011، وفي سورية تخطى دوره موقعه الميداني ورعايته لمشاركة قوى المقاومة في الدفاع عن سورية، فهو أول من أضاء على القلق من أن تكون سورية في عين الاستهداف من خلال دراسته لظواهر وبواطن الربيع العربي، وبرؤيته الاستباقية ونقاشها مع الرئيس الأسد والقيادة السوريّة وقيادة المقاومة والقيداة الإيرانية أمكن احتواء المراحل الأولى من التحضير للحرب على سورية، وصولاً لنضج المواجهة الميدانيّة كخيار لا بد منه، وفي سورية كان للحاج قاسم دور مؤثر في حسم الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين قرار المشاركة الميدانية في الحرب على سورية. فالشخصية القيادية السياسية والاستراتيجية للشهيد سليماني التي كشف عنها السيد نصرالله كانت مساهمته في إحياء ذكرى استشهاده.

في الإنصاف الذي يستحقه الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، بوجه حروب التشويه والإساءة والافتراء، قدّم السيد نصرالله مساهمة راقية وعالية، كشفت عن جوانب من أدوار ومواقف للرئيس الأسد، تسهم في فهمه كقائد تاريخيّ شجاع وملتزم بخيارات حاسمة تجاه مفاهيم الاستقلال والسيادة والمقاومة. فالسيد نصرالله يقول إن الرئيس الأسد لا يقبل أيّ تدخل او وصاية على شؤون سورية من الأعداء ولا من الحلفاء، ويؤكد أنه يتحدّث حديث العارف هنا، وفي منزلة الحديث عن فلسطين يورد السيد نصرالله واقعة أنه عندما سمع من الحاج قاسم سليماني فكرة تزويد المقاومة في فلسطين بصواريخ الكورنيت وتريّث لسؤال الرئيس الأسد صاحب هذه الصواريخ، متوجّهاً للرئيس الأسد بالسؤال، لم يجد لديه أي حسابات كان يمكن انتظارها من رئيس أي دولة في موقعه تجاه نقل سلاح اشتراه الجيش السوري من روسيا الى داخل فلسطين المحتلة، والشهادة اللافتة التي تحدّث عنها السيد نصرالله كانت للميزات الشخصية للرئيس الأسد خصوصاً لجهة سر القوة والثبات والتماسك في أحلك الظروف وأشدّها قسوة وتسبباً بالقلق والخطر.

حوار العام مع السيد نصرالله كان مكرّساً لإعلاء شان محور المقاومة، في الوفاء لرئيس أركان جيوشه الشهيد، وفي إنصاف القائد السياسي والعسكري الذي انتصر على أخطر حرب كونيّة.

فيديوات متعلقة

Nasrallah in public dialogue: Loyalty to Suleimani and fairness to Assad

Nasser Kandil

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In the rich dialogue, which is full of meanings, equations and information, which was conducted by colleague Ghassan Ben Jeddou with the Secretary General of Hizbullah many themes, Lebanese, Arab, regional and international, but in the dialogue were constants loyalty to the commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, General Qassem Soleimani, and fairness of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It reveals bright aspects in the biographies of the two characters as was clear from the path of dialogue where Nasrallah revealed what he did not say before and was not in circulation.

In talking about Haj Qassem, as al-Sayyid calls him, Mr. Nasrallah addressed the character of Haj Qassem, as Mr. Nasrallah calls him, as an intellectual, fighter, intellectual and strategic military leader, and as a slender, devious, humble, creative, eager, magnanimous and generous person, , and as a human being delicate, believing, humble, moral, eager, generous, at the level of thinking, planning, follow-up, or implementation, what people know about the field leadership role of Hajj Qassem in the wars in Syria and Iraq in the face of takfiri terrorism, translated into presence in the front sites of the fighting and challenging the danger is nothing but a little of what can be said about the biography of this leader.

In Palestine, Haj Qassem, who had the idea of supplying the resistance with the Kornet missiles, which Hezbollah received as a contribution from the Syrian leadership by the decision of President Bashar al-Assad, which played a crucial role in the manufacture of the victory of the resistance in the July 2006 war, and formed after its arrival in Gaza, a decisive element the decisive deterrence in the face of the Zionist plans of the ground attack, and in Iraq Haj Qassem was not only the leader of the confrontation with ISIS, but was the backbone of the formations of resistance movements that imposed on the American withdrawal in 20111. Haj Qassem through his study of the phenomena and the signs of the “Arab Spring”, is the first to highlight the concern that Syria is in the eye of targeting and his proactive vision and discussion with President Assad and the Syrian leadership and the leadership of the Resistance and Iranian constraints was able to contain the first stages of preparation of the war on Syria, to mature the field confrontation as an option, and in Syria, Haj Qassem had an influential role in resolving President Putin Vladimir’s decision to interfere in the war on Syria. The political and strategic leadership of Shahid Soleimani, revealed by Mr. Nasrallah, was his contribution to the commemoration of his martyrdom.

In the fairness that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad deserves, in the face of wars of distortion, abuse and slander, Mr. Nasrallah has made a high-class contribution, which revealed aspects of the roles and positions of President Al-Assad, which contribute to his understanding as a courageous historical leader committed to decisive choices towards the concepts of independence, sovereignty and resistance. Mr. Nasrallah says that President Al-Assad does not accept any interference or guardianship on the Affairs of Syria from enemies or allies, Mr. Nasrallah mentioned that Haj Qassem Soleimani asked to provide the resistance in Palestine with Cornet missiles purchased by the Syrian army, which was done after getting Assad’s approval being the owner of these missiles

The general dialogue with Mr. Nasrallah was dedicated to promoting the axis of resistance, in loyalty to the chief of staff of his martyr armies, and in the fairness of the political and military leader who triumphed over the most dangerous global war.

Qassem Soleimani as Viewed by Foreign Media

Qassem Soleimani as Viewed by Foreign Media

By Al-Ahed News

The Fascist Scale Revisited*

 BY GILAD ATZMON

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by Gilad Atzmon

Revisiting Theodore W. Adorno’s work on the ‘authoritarian personality’ and the ‘F Scale’ reveals that in 2020, it is actually liberals, progressives and the so called ‘Left’ that manifest 8 out of the 9 most problematic, antidemocratic and authoritarian attitudes.

The theory of an authoritarian personality was introduced in the 1930s in an attempt to explain the mass appeal of fascism and right-wing ideologies. It came to life in the wake of a sharp rise in the popularity of fascist movements in many European societies in the inter-war period.

At the time, many European ideologists and intellectuals were deeply inspired by Marx and Freud. Marxism predicted that the great depression would translate into a vast shift in working class conciousness, materialising into a global socialist revolution. Of course, this didn’t happen. The economic crisis resulted instead in mass support for nationalist and fascist movements that were often deeply anti-Semitic.

The rational behind the above deviation from the Marxist prophecy borrowed some Freudian theoretical mechanisms. ‘People are authoritarians’ was the given ‘explanation’: under certain threatening conditions ‘authoritarian characters’ are emotionally and cognitively vulnerable to the appeal of fascist and nationalist ideologies.

During the 1930s a score of Jewish Germanic intellectuals mainly (but not at all) associated with the Frankfurt School (e.g., Wilhelm Reich) were committed to point at the psychological and socio-economic conditions responsible for the making of the Authoritarian personality.

In his 1933 work The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Wilhelm Reich attempted to explain the striking victory of ‘reactionary’ fascism over ‘progressive’ communism. Reich was desperate to rescue the relevance of revolutionary Marxism. To do so, he formed a new ‘post-Marxist’ theoretical outlook to explain why the Germans of his time favoured ‘authoritarianism’ over a ‘preferable’ communist revolution.

Reich reckoned that the attraction of ‘reactionary’ and ‘conservative’ politics and the inclination towards fascism is driven by a long history of rigid, authoritarian patriarchy which affects family, parenting, primal education and eventually, society as a whole. In an attempt to save society from fascism, Reich synthesized Marx and Freud into a ‘sexual revolution.’

In 1950, the Frankfurt School’s prominent intellectual Theodor W. Adorno, along with others, published The Authoritarian Personality, a collection of studies that became a prime academic text in the domain of social science. In this volume Adorno and others delved into the theory of the authoritarian personality and reported the results of a decade-long research in testing the theory.

Bearing in mind the origins of many of its members and the prime intellectual objective of the Frankfurt School, it is far from surprising that the investigation had begun with an attempt to explain the psychological roots of anti-Semitism: the assumption was that authoritarian personalities manifest some ethnocentric patterns that come to life with xenophobic inclinations and a dislike of out-groups and minorities.

Adorno & co. reduced the authoritarian personality into a set of nine ‘implicitly antidemocratic,’ attitudes and beliefs. Adorno believed that it was possible to identify authoritarian personalities by the degree to which people would agree with these nine attitudes. The nine fascist attitudes; are briefly summarised here:

  • Conventionalism: Adherence to conventional values.
  • Authoritarian Submission: Towards ingroup authority figures.
  • Authoritarian Aggression: Against people who violate conventional values.
  • Anti-Intraception: Opposition to subjectivity and imagination.
  • Superstition and Stereotypy: Belief in individual fate; thinking in rigid categories.
  • Power and Toughness: Concerned with submission and domination; assertion of strength.
  • Destructiveness and Cynicism: hostility against human nature.
  • Projectivity: Perception of the world as dangerous; tendency to project unconscious impulses.
  • Sex: Overly concerned with modern sexual practices.

Reviewing the relevance of Adorno’s take on authoritarianism in the light of the current global pandemic hysteria or the battle over the integrity of the American presidential election may reveal that in accordance with the F Scale, it is actually progressives, liberals and the so called ‘Left’ who are manifesting the most problematic antidemocratic authoritarian patterns:

  1. According to Adorno, Fascists ‘adhere to conventional values.’

In 2020 ‘conventional values’ are practically dictated by so-called ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ ‘community standards’ as defined by Twitter, FB and Google. These conventional values are often validated by ‘factcheckers,’ occasionally substantiated by conventions rather than anything that resembles factual research, academic or theoretical study.

2. Adorno insists that Authoritarians submit to ingroup authority figures.

But in 2020 it is actually progressives and liberals who adhere to the ‘epidemiological ingroup authority’ of Bill Gates. Similarly, Anthony Fauci is for progressives a supreme judge on public health matters. How many colossal blunders should we take from Imperial College London before this institution is dismantled? Similarly, you may want to ask yourself who in America tends to believe its ‘ingroup’ pollsters despite the fact that they prove to be colossally wrong time after time?

3. Adorno tells us that fascists manifest authoritarian aggression against people who violate conventional values.

As things stand ‘cancel culture’ is actually a progressive/liberal operational mode. People see their culture being cancelled for exploring critical views of conventional thoughts that are precious to progressives. It is hardly a secret that there is a growing fear amongst the wider public of expressing criticism, let alone doubts on a number of progressive issues, as such conduct could lead to vile aggression.

4. Adorno insists that Fascists oppose to subjectivity and imagination.

In reality it is progressive algorithms that are set by ‘liberals’ at Twitter and FB to trace and punish those who dare to explore subjective ideas about COVID-19, Trump, gender, Palestine or Soros. The progressive notion of political correctness is in itself a tyrannical call designed to suppress any form of subjectivity or imagination.

5. According to Adorno Fascists are superstitious and think in a stereotypical manner, they believe in individual fate and think in rigid categories.

Sadly, it is actually progressives and liberals who succumb to rigid categories such as ‘white,’ ‘privileged,’ ‘conspiracy theorists,’ ‘anti-Semites,’ ‘supremacists,’ ‘racists.’ ‘deplorables’ and so on. In the world in which we live, a significant number of American voters express doubts about the last election’s integrity but their voice is institutionally ignored because they are ‘white,’ ‘conspiratorial,’ and generally ‘deplorable.’ Similarly, many Westerners express scepticism about COVID-19 vaccines, yet the so called ‘liberal’ mainstream media wouldn’t let their voices be heard let alone explored. The COVID-sceptics are presented as ‘delusional’ and ‘conspiracy theorists.’ Whether this is indeed the case or not, it is rather evident that it is progressives and liberals who actually operate within a rigid intellectual realm made of strict categories.

6. Adorno insists that Fascists are obsessed with domination.

In 2020 it is actually the liberal and progressive internet giants from Google to Amazon that celebrate their domineering powers eliminating those whom they do not agree with, deleting their pages, fiddling with their rankings and practically eliminate their thoughts. This is what book burning means in 2020. You may also ask yourself who often exercises violence against statues, adhering to the foolish belief that defacing a statue equals ‘rewriting history.’

7. Authoritarians can’t handle cynicism. They are hostile towards the human nature, Adorno says

I ask myself who is chasing comedians, artists, authors, scientists who dare to mock contemporary hegemonic discourses. How many books were burned by Amazon? How many lectures and videos were removed by Google/YouTube? In the world in which we live, liberals and progressives censor elected politicians and mark their comments.

8. Adorno believed that Fascists perceive the world as a dangerous place and they tend to attribute their own unconscious impulses to others

In the upside-down world in which we live, it is actually the so-called right wing and nationalists who constantly refuse to be tormented by global threats: whether it is global warming or pandemics. It is the ‘Left’, liberals and progressives who succumb to every possible global warning whether factual or imaginary. As we will read shortly, in the world in which we live it is not the right-wing or the nationalist who ‘projects’ his or her symptoms. It is actually right-wing Americans who are otherized and suppressed to the point that they struggle to see their vision being heard let alone discussed by mainstream media.

9. Adorno believed that fascists and authoritarians are overly concerned with modern sexual practices.

This is the only criterion that genuinely relates to contemporary conservatives. It is fair to argue that conservatives are still succumbing to the idea that gender is a binary matter. They also adhere to family and church values. However, this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with ‘fascism ‘or ‘authoritarianism.’ People who believe that gender is a binary matter can often argue their case and also discuss any other topic in the frankest manner.

A current examination of Adorno’s F-Scale and the Authoritarian Personality reveals that it is actually progressives and liberals who manifest the quintessential fascist tendencies. While contemporary conservative and nationalist correlation with the F Scale may not grow beyond 0.12 (1 trait out of 9) liberal and progressive correlation with Adorno’s F scale can rise up to 0.88 (8 out of 9).

Was Adorno totally wrong then? Not necessarily. Adorno’s F Scale describes the authoritarian condition that is characteristic of hegemony, domination and a particularly exceptionalist world view. In the 1930s some European right-wing nationalist ideologists evolved into radical exceptionalism. The F scale describes their attitude accurately. Nowadays, that sense of exceptionalism and chosenism is progressive territory, as progressives happen to be people who believe that others are reactionary. Progressives, as such, are people who believe themselves to be chosen.

The fight against anti-Semitism and the attempt to understand its roots was at the heart of Adorno and the Frankfurt School’s work. Bizarrely, Adorno’s F Scale is an adequate description of the Jewish condition. Each of Adorno’s F scale authoritarian traits can be traced at the core of Judaic beliefs and thought; Judaism is a rigid authoritarian adherence to Mitzvoth (conventional values). It demands the total rule of Rabbis (Authoritarian Submission). It doesn’t tolerate any form of deviation (Authoritarian Aggression). It is superstitious and lumps the ‘goyim’ in a stereotypical manner (Superstition and Stereotypy) and so on. It is therefore plausible that those ‘attitudes’ which Adorno attributed to fascists by means of projection are those which Adorno actually found in himself. Such an observation of Adorno’s project would validate the work of the great philosopher Otto Weininger, who proclaimed that that which we hate in others is that which we hate in ourselves.

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Israeli minister orders jails not to vaccinate Palestinian security prisoners

Order defies health ministry guidelines that prisoners should be part of second group of Israelis to be vaccinated

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s statement did not single out Palestinian inmates, but there are no non-Palestinian security prisoners in Israel (AFP)

By MEE and agencies

Published date: 27 December 2020 15:47 UTC 

Israel’s Public Security Minister Amir Ohana told the country’s prison service late last week not to inoculate Palestinian security prisoners, an Israeli newspaper has revealed.

The order came despite health ministry guidelines that prisoners should be part of the second group of Israelis to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 coronavirus, together with security personnel, Haaretz wrote on Sunday.

The report came as Israel began its third coronavirus lockdown at 5pm (15:00 GMT) on Sunday, with most people forced to stay within 1,000 metres of their home. Covid-19: Gaza resumes screening after receiving nearly 20,000 kits from WHO

Read More »

The office of the minister said that only prison staff should be vaccinated because “there should be no inoculating security prisoners without approval and in line with vaccination progress among the general population,” the newspaper said.

Although the statement referred only to “security prisoners,” a letter on the matter sent by Moshe Edri, the Public Security Ministry’s director general, did not make such a distinction, instead referring to the general prisoner population, Haaretz said.

Although Ohana’s statement did not single out Palestinian inmates, there are no non-Palestinian security prisoners in Israel.

The ministry’s directive contradicts the health ministry’s guidelines regarding the prioritisation of vaccination. 

Haaretz said it was unclear on what authority Ohana can order the prisons service to vaccinate certain inmates and not others.

‘Politically motivated directive’

In response to the Public Security Ministry’s directive, Shas lawmaker Moshe Arbel posed a parliamentary question to Ohana asking him to explain why there is no need to inoculate all inmates in light of the crowding and harsh conditions in Israel’s prisons and the positive pace of vaccination among the general population.

“The state should weigh in on the difficult situation of the prisoners, among the most crowded and vulnerable groups in the country, and act to vaccinate them as soon as possible,” Arbel wrote.

“The minister’s directive contradicts the vaccination guidelines that the Health Ministry issued. 

“We should be making sure that prisoners are given high priority for vaccinations in line with recommendations by health experts involved in the matter, especially in light of worldwide data showing that the risk of infection among inmates is higher than that of the outside population.”

Palestinians left waiting 

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a Covid-19 vaccine jab, starting a national rollout.

However, the massive vaccination campaign, said to be the biggest in Israel’s history and titled “Give a Shoulder,” will not include millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control despite a recent spike in cases and deaths stemming from the virus.

Israel’s vaccination campaign will include Jewish settlers who are Israeli citizens living deep inside the occupied West Bank, but not the territory’s 2.5 million Palestinians.Palestinians left waiting as Israel rolls out Covid-19 vaccine jabRead More »

They will have to wait for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank in accordance with interim peace agreements reached in the 1990s, to provide them.

The PA hopes to get vaccines through a World Health Organisation-led partnership with humanitarian organisations known as Covax, which has so far fallen short of the 2 billion doses it hopes to buy over the next years for those in poor countries.

Complicating matters is the fact that the Palestinians have only one refrigeration unit capable of storing the Pfizer vaccine. 

The Palestinian Authority has reported more than 85,000 cases in the West Bank, including more than 800 deaths, and the outbreak has intensified in recent weeks.

The situation is even more dire in Gaza, home to two million Palestinians and which has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power in 2007. Authorities there have reported over 30,000 cases, including more than 200 deaths.

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Sayyed Nasrallah: Resistance Missiles Multiply in Quantities, Can Reach any Point in Occupied Palestine

Sayyed Mayadeen
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Sara Taha Moughnieh

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah denied Sunday having any data around Israeli or US intention to perform any operation before the end of Trump’s presidency dubbing the latter a “crazy who is in a state of severe madness”.

“It is not something only concerning Iran, Lebanon or Palestine but even the Republican and Democratic leaderships are worried about what he could do,” he pointed out, stressing that “the resistance axis should be cautious throughout these couple of weeks so it wouldn’t be dragged into an uncalculated confrontation…”

In an interview to Al-Mayadeen TV channel, Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that he, along with other Hezbollah leaders are targets for the US, Israeli and Saudi Arabia, adding that the latter have been instigating to assassinate him since many years, even before the Yemeni war began.

“Saudi King, Mohammad bin Salman proposed this issue in his first visit to the US after the election of Trump, and the latter approved assigning this operation to “Israel”,” his eminence clarified, noting that “Saudi Arabia, specifically in the last few years, has been acting with grudge not mindfulness”.

Sayyed Nasrallah disdained Israeli threats assuring that “when you hear Israelis waging threats on media know that there will be no action… and all the action taking place on the borders with Lebanon only reveal Israel’s concern and alertness”.

As his eminence considered that the military operation that targeted Hajj Qassem Suleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis was a trilateral operation by US-Israel-Saudi Arabia, he remembered Suleimani saying “he had a strong charisma and the power to influence anyone who knows him. He was special on the humanitarian and moral levels. He was a frontline man not a man in the operation room, a man of strategy and tactics and very conscious and well-educated on political and cultural levels.”

“In the last period before his assassination, his role and movement was highlighted a lot in Western media. They usually do that before the assassination of anyone to show their people the significance of the man targeted. I was very concerned about him and I warned him about that,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding “I miss him so much, I used to feel that we are one person”.

“As for Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, he was a great leader and resembled Hajj Qassem so much. He had a major role in both victories against the US and ISIL,” he further stated.

In parallel, Sayyed Nasrallah spoke about the strong relation Hajj Qassem had with all the resistance factions in Palestine and his concern that these factions get all the support they need to resist the occupation, revealing that he was the one behind sending Kornet missiles to the resistance in Gaza Strip.

“President Bashar Al-Assad bought “Kornet” missiles from the Russians, and they are the missiles we used in July war. Hajj Qassem demanded that these missiles be sent to Gaza, and I proposed the issue to President Assad who instantly approved,” his eminence explained, asserting that “I am not surprised with the Arab betrayal to the Palestinians because most of the Arab regimes have only been selling words to Palestine and have only used Iran as an excuse to normalize the relations with Israel. This took place because the Palestinian cause has become a burden on them. There is no excuse for anyone to abandon Palestine.”

As he considered that these countries have long had ties with Israel but were not made public, he assured that this new peace deal is positive because it brought this hypocrisy to public and divided the lines.

“When lines are divided this means a great victory is on its way,” he said.

In this context, Hezbollah SG stated that the relation between Hezbollah and Hamas is based on the legitimacy of the resistance and the Palestinian cause despite the conflict that emerged between Damascus and Hamas due to the Syrian developments.

He further assured that the resistance axis is stronger than before and the Palestinian people have not been influenced by the normalization treaties as they still stand firm and steadfast, praising the joint maneuvers between the resistance factions in Gaza.

While his eminence expressed that the Palestinians of 1948 in the occupied territories want the liberation of Palestine more than anyone else, he stated that “as an Islamist, I find the stance of the Justice and Development Party in Morocco concerning normalization with Israelis more painful than other stances”.

On Hajj Qassem’s role in Iraq, Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that the Iraqi resistance factions who defeated ISIL were the ones who performed most of the operations that urged the US to pull out if Iraq, unlike what media portrayed about Al-Qaeda being behind them.

“I assure to you that the Iraqi resistance groups were the ones performing operations against the occupation under the support of Al-Quds force led by Hajj Qassem Suleimani, and we were in contact with them since then,” his eminence said, indicating that “4 800 suicide attacks were waged in Iraq, while the resistance operations were very accurate and merely against the occupation”.

Moreover, he added that “The US Army had threatened Hajj Qassem and Al-Quds Force to bombard locations in Iran if they continue to support the resistance in Iraq… If it weren’t for the Iraqi resistance, the US embassy would’ve been the one ruling Iraq now”.

Based on that, Hezbollah SG pointed out that “despite the significance of Hajj Qassem and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis and their great roles, what happened with them according to our culture, methodology, history and path is a natural and expected outcome because we are in a state of historical conflict… and these two martyrs fell on the path of victories and defeat of great schemes.”

“Our axis does not rely on individuals, and while the goal behind the assassination of Hajj Qassem and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis was to erase the name of the resistance, millions of people came out and shouted “we are all resistance… we are all Qassem Suleimani”.”

Hezbollah SG recalled the speech of Imam Khamenei in which he asserted that whoever ordered and implemented the assassination of these two martyrs should be personally punished wherever he is, stating that “this should be the duty of every honorable person in the world, specifically our people in Iraq as Hajj Qassem was their guest and was martyred on their territories.”

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah stated that “one day after the toppling of former Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak, Hajj Qassem was in the Southern Suburb of Beirut and expressed discomfort telling us that the Americans will take advantage of the “Arab Spring” to change regimes in the region for their benefit and topple governments that support the resistance specifically in Syria.

“We took his words into consideration and warned the Syrian president who chose to embrace any public movement that takes place. However, funded groups refused any political solution and started using force.”

“We don’t exaggerate when we say it was a global war on Syria. They wanted to replace the regime with another one that supports US policies, submits to Turkey and Qatar, and improves relations with Israel,” his eminence added, noting that “the war on Syria was not only because of its stance from the Palestinian cause but also for its oil and gas and for occupying it and controlling it strategically “.

“President Assad chose to stand firm and never left Syria, and his decision urged us to support him”.

Furthermore, Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that Hajj Qassem went to Moscow and met with President Putin for two hours, playing a major role in convincing him to interfere militarily in Syria.

“After its role in Syria and the regional changes, Russia regained its role in the world through the Syrian gate,” Sayyed Nasrallah assured.

On the Lebanese level, Hezbollah SG stressed that the Israelis have been in a state if alertness for months now expecting a retaliatory attack for the martyrdom of one of Hezbollah members in Syria.

“All the drills and measures the Israeli is taking on the borders are because he is aware that we will respond. The Israeli is in a state of confusion and recognizes that the resistance missiles can reach accurate goals in any place inside the occupied territories, he said, assuring that “the resistance according to the people in South Lebanon is a shield not a burden”.

Answering a question about the influence of Iran-US negotiations on some files in the region, his eminence assured that “Iran, unlike other states, does not buy and sell files in the region. It does not negotiate with the Americans about countries’ affairs on behalf of these countries. It had informed the Europeans that it will not discuss the Yemeni affairs on behalf of the Yemenis and had refused to discuss Iraqi affairs with Washington without the presence of an Iraqi delegation.”

Source: Al-Manar

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The Dangerous Alliance of Rothschild and the Vatican of Francis

22.12.2020 

Author: F. William Engdahl

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Holy Moly! The most globalist and interventionist Pope since the Crusades of the 12th Century has formalized an alliance with the largest figures in global finance led by none other than that noble banking family, Rothschild. The new alliance is a joint venture they call “Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican.” The venture is one of the more cynical and given the actors, most dangerous frauds being promoted since Davos WEF guru and Henry Kissinger protégé, Klaus Schwab, began to promote the Great Reset of the world capitalist order. What and is behind this so-called Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican?

On their website they proclaim in a typical UN doublespeak, “The Council for Inclusive Capitalism is a movement of the world’s business and public sector leaders who are working to build a more inclusive, sustainable, and trusted economic system that addresses the needs of our people and the planet.” A more sustainable, trusted economic system? Doesn’t that sound like the infamous UN Agenda 21 and its Agenda 2030 daughter, the globalist master plan? They then claim, “Inclusive Capitalism is fundamentally about creating long-term value for all stakeholders – businesses, investors, employees, customers, governments and communities.”

They continue, “Council members make actionable commitments aligned with the World Economic Forum International Business Council’s Pillars for sustainable value creation—People, Planet, Principles of Governance, and Prosperity—and that advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

In announcing the deal with the Vatican, Lynn Forester de Rothschild declared, “This Council will follow the warning from Pope Francis to listen to ‘the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’ and answer society’s demands for a more equitable and sustainable model of growth.”

Their reference to Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum is no accident. The group is yet another front group in what is becoming a globalist bum’s rush to try to convince a skeptical world that the same people who created the post-1945 model of IMF-led globalization and giga-corporate entities more powerful than governments, destroying traditional agriculture in favor of toxic agribusiness, dismantling living standards in industrialized countries to flee to cheap labor countries like Mexico or China, will now lead the effort to correct all their abuses? We are being naïve if we swallow this.

Rothschild and pals

First off it is useful to see who are the “inclusive” capitalists joining forces with the Pope and Vatican. The founder is a lady who carries the name Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild. She is the wife of the 90-year old retired mega-billionaire head of London’s NM Rothschilds Bank, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. Lady Lynn however is from “commoner” roots, born into a US working class family in New Jersey whose father, as she tells, worked two jobs to put her and her brothers through law and medical schools. She seemed to have had some influential mentors, as she went to Wall Street then to telecoms including Motorola and made reported tens of millions before hooking up with Sir Evelyn and his reported $20 billion in assets. Reports have it that Henry Kissinger played a personal role in encouraging the Transatlantic union of the two.

Lady Lynn is interesting as well beyond her famous husband. According to the list of names of those who flew on the private jet of convicted child sex trafficker and reported Mossad operative Jeffrey Epstein, one name that appears is “de Rothschild, Lynn Forester.”

It is interesting to note, that the same Lynn Forester in 1991, before she took Sir Evelyn as her husband, generously let a British friend have full use of one of Lynn’s Manhattan apartment properties, following the apparent murder of the woman’s father, British media tycoon and Mossad agent, Robert Maxwell. The British friend of Lynn, Ghislaine Maxwell, today is awaiting trial for complicity in child sex trafficking as the partner of Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell reportedly maintained the Manhattan address of Lady Lynn until very recently to register a bizarre non-profit called Terramar that she and Epstein set up in 2012, allegedly aimed at saving our oceans. When Epstein was arrested she quickly dissolved the non-profit. One of the donors to Ghislaine’s TerraMar was something called the Clinton Foundation, which leads to the next friend.

Lady Lynn has another long-time friend named Hillary Clinton, whose husband, Bill, was also logged on Epstein’s Lolita Express private jet, around two dozen times. Lynn and her new husband, Sir Evelyn, in fact were so close to the Clintons that in 2000 the Rothschild newlyweds spent part of their honeymoon as guests at the White House of Mr and Mrs Clinton. Lady Lynn after that became a major fund-raiser in 2008 and again 2016 for a possible Hillary bid for President, called a “bundler.” She also advised Hillary on her economic program, a free market one based on Adam Smith as she described it in an interview once.

Lady Lynn’s “Guardians”

The Rothschild venture with the Vatican at this point, in addition to co-founder Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, includes hand-picked money moguls and their select foundations who pompously call themselves the “Guardians.” That’s a term sounding more like a South Side Chicago gang or some kind of mafia overlords. They call themselves the moral guardians, together now with their new friends at the Vatican, for reform of capitalism.

The Guardian member list includes Rajiv Shah, the CEO of the Rockefeller Foundation, and former partner of the Gates Foundation’s AGRA scam to introduce GMO seeds in Africa. The Rockefeller Foundation has been involved in promoting a pandemic “lockdown” since 2010, and is a core part of the WEF Great Reset agenda. He just released a Rockefeller report, Reset the Table: Meeting the Moment to Transform the US Food System.

Rothschild’s Guardians also include Darren Walker the CEO of the Ford Foundation. Those two foundations, Ford and Rockefeller, have done more to shape an imperial American foreign policy than even the US State Department or CIA, including the funding of the failed Green Revolution in India and Mexico, and the creation by Rockefeller funds of GMO crops.

The head of DuPont, a GMO giant and chemicals group is another Guardian as well as scandal-ridden vaccine and drug companies, Merck and Johnson & Johnson. Merck lied about the risks of its arthritis drug Vioxx until more than 55,000 users died of heart attacks. Johnson & Johnson has been involved in numerous frauds in recent years including around negative effects of its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, illegal presence of cancer-causing asbestos in its baby powder, and potentially thousands of legal actions for its role as a leading supplier of the opioid in Purdue Pharma’s deadly prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Other Guardians include CEOs of Visa, Mastercard, Bank of America, Allianz insurance, BP. In 2016 Visa along with USAID were behind the catastrophic Modi experiment to introduce a cashless economy in India.

Notable also is Guardian Mark Carney, former Bank of England head and also advocate of cashless digital central bank currencies to replace the dollar. Carney is now United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance.

Carney is also a Board member of the Davos World Economic Forum, the public promoter of the Global Reset of capitalism to impose the dystopian Agenda 2030 “sustainable” economy. In fact several of Rothschild’s Guardians are on the WEF Board, including billionaire Marc Benioff, founder of cloud computing Salesforce, and OECD head Angel Gurria. And ex-Credit Suisse CEO, Tidjane Thiam is on the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum.

Other Guardians of the inclusive capitalism transformation include the head of Bank of America, which bank was sued by the US Government for fraud connected with the 2008 US subprime mortgage crisis, as well as for laundering money for the deadly Mexican drug cartels and Russian organized crime. The select Guardian list also includes Marcie Frost, the controversial head of CalPERS, the huge fraud-ridden California state pension fund managing over $360 billion.

The head of State Street Corporation, one of the world’s largest asset management companies with US$3.1 trillion under management, is another Guardian. In January 2020 State Street announced it would vote against directors of companies in major stock indices that do not meet targets for environmental, social and governance changes. This is what is called Green Investing, as part of so-called Socially Responsible Investing. The WEF strategy, pushed also by WEF board members like Larry Fink of BlackRock, reward companies that they deem “socially responsible.” This is the key to the inclusive capitalism agenda of not just Rothschild’s inclusive capitalism Guardians, but also the WEF.

Their website claims that the Guardians manage more than $10.5 trillion dollars and control companies that employ 200 million workers. Now a brief look at their new Vatican partner.

Vatican Morals?

Ironically, or maybe not, Pope Francis, the partner chosen to give Rothschild’s group of mega-capitalists “moral” credibility, is himself embroiled in what could be the largest financial scandals, fraud and misuse of church funds in the modern history of the Vatican. That, despite the fact Pope Francis declared as new Pope in 2013, one of his main tasks would be to clean up the scandal-ridden Vatican finances. That has hardly taken place even after more than six years. Some Vatican observers even claim the financial corruption has worsened.

The unravelling scandal revolves around now-disgraced Cardinal Angelo Becciu who until 2018 was de facto chief-of-staff to the Pope and regular confidante. Becciu was Substitute for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State, a key position in the Roman Curia until June, 2018 when the pope elevated him to Cardinal, ironically enough, responsible for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Becciu, clearly no saint, was able to invest hundreds of millions even billions over years of Church funds, including donations for the poor in Peter’s Pence, into projects he chose with a former banker from Credit Suisse. Projects included €150 million share in a luxury London real estate complex and $1.1 million into a film, Rocketman, about the life of Elton John. That comes to light as the ongoing Vatican child sex scandals caused Pope Francis to defrock Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, the first Cardinal to fall in the Church’s deep sexual abuse charges.

Italian press reports that the Pope knew about the dubious investments of Becciu and even praised them before the depth of the scandals broke. In November, 2020 Italian police raided the residence of Becciu’s former Vatican accountant and found €600,000 in cash and evidence the Vatican employee received $15 million in fake invoicing over years.

With a background like this, the new Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican of Lynn de Rothschild warrants close scrutiny as they clearly plan big things along with Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum to “reform” the world economy, and it won’t be nice or moral we can be sure.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

FM: Zionists’ Interests in the Red Sea will be Legitimate Targets to Yemeni Forces

FM: Zionists' Interests in the Red Sea will be Legitimate Targets to Yemeni Forces

News – Yemen: An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on what was stated by the spokesman of the Zionist army, in which he said that “the Zionists are monitoring the situation in Yemen.”

The source told the Yemen news agency, Saba, that “the Zionist entity should bother with monitoring its own situation in the occupied territory, Palestine, rather than threatening the Islamic region in the Middle East with a lightning war.”

The source added, “The Zionist entity has no business whit the situation in Yemen,” warning that “any reckless action of the Zionist entity in the region would spark a comprehensive war, and Israel would be the first to lose.”

He pointed out that the Israeli enemy seeks to fabricate excuses for hostile actions and movements through which it tries to cover up its continuous aggression against the Palestinian people.

The source added, “if the Zionist entity makes any reckless move or action that affects Yemen, then any interests of this entity or its partners in the Red Sea will be a legitimate target.”

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Who is Destroying Lebanon and Why?

December 27, 2020

By Thierry Meyssan
Source: Voltaire Network

Within a few months, Lebanon, often misrepresented as “the only Arab democratic state” or even as the “Switzerland of the Middle East,” has collapsed. Successively, popular demonstrations against the political class (October 2019), a banking crisis (November 2019), a health crisis (July 2020), an explosion at the port of Beirut (August 2020) caused a sudden disappearance of the middle classes and a general decline in living standards of around 200%.

From the Lebanese point of view, this horror would be due to the catastrophic management of the country by the political class, whose leaders would be corrupted except for the leader of the religious community to which the person being questioned belongs. This absurd prejudice reveals an intolerant population and masks the reality.

Since the Ottoman occupation [1], especially since independence in 1942, and even more so since the civil war (1975-90), the Lebanese population has not formed a nation [2], but an aggregate of confessional communities. The Constitution and the Taif Accords allocate all political functions and henceforth all public jobs, not according to the capacities of citizens, but according to community quotas. Each community has chosen its leaders, usually former civil warlords, who have been recognized by the international community. They managed in their own name the subsidies that the former colonial powers offered for their community. They have taken a huge amount of royalties, which they have long since transferred abroad, but they have also distributed very large sums of money to maintain their “clientele” in the image of the ancient Roman senators. It is therefore perfectly stupid to accuse them today of corruption when they have been celebrated for decades for the same work.

This system was maintained by the United States and the European Union. Thus the President of the Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salame, was celebrated as the best money manager in the Western world before being accused of hiding a hundred million dollars in personal accounts in the United Kingdom. Or, the European Union’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, claimed to be helping Lebanon solve its waste crisis while helping the two former prime ministers, Saad Hariri and Najib Mikati, to embezzle a hundred million dollars of this sum. [3]

Only the Lebanese, who have been kept in a state of political unconsciousness for eighty years and still have not understood what they experienced during the civil war, do not realize this.

How can we fail to notice that the collapse of Lebanon follows those of Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan? How can we fail to notice that in 2001, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his advisor, Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, advocated adapting the mission of the US armed forces to emerging financial capitalism? According to them, it was necessary to destroy all the state structures of all the states of the “Broader Middle East” so that no one – enemy or friend – could prevent the exploitation of the region by US multinationals.

If we admit that this “Endless War” (sic), proclaimed by President George W. Bush, is indeed going on, we must note that the destruction of the state structures of Lebanon was achieved at a lower cost.

However, given the effectiveness of the Lebanese resistance, it was necessary to achieve this objective by non-military means that escaped the vigilance of Hezbollah. Everything had already been decided in April 2019, as attested by the US response to the Lebanese delegation visiting the US State Department [4].

Four coalition powers, the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France, played a decisive role in this plan.

  • The Pentagon set the objective: to destroy Lebanon and exploit the gas and oil fields (plan of Ambassador Frederic C. Hof).
  • Whitehall set out the method [5]: manipulate the post-Civil War generation in order to liberate the current system without replacing it. Its propaganda specialists thus organized the so-called “October Revolution” which, contrary to what was sometimes believed, was not at all spontaneous. [6]
  • Israel destroyed the economy thanks to its control of all telephone communications (except Hezbollah’s private network) and its presence in the world banking system. It provoked the banking rout by convincing South American drug cartels that had placed their assets in Lebanon to brutally withdraw them. It deprived the country of its economic lung, the port, by bombarding it with a new weapon. [7]
  • France, for its part, proposed to privatize everything that could be privatized and put Saad Hariri back on stage to carry it out. It has applied itself to pouring out fine words while marginalizing Hezbollah [8].

Ultimately, the next twenty years should be devoted to plundering the country, especially its hydrocarbons, while the Lebanese will continue to blame scapegoats and ignore their real enemies. Already, the Israeli port of Haifa has partially replaced that of Beirut. Eventually, the country itself should be divided and the part south of the Litani River attached to Israel. [9]

It should be kept in mind, however, that the USA-UK-Israel-France coalition is not composed of equal states, but is commanded exclusively by the United States. In Libya, the USA alone pocketed the oil pact. Despite the promises made to them, their allies got only crumbs. The same scenario can be repeated in Lebanon. None of their allies could profit from their common crime.

Notes:

[1] Les Libanais ne reconnaissent pas l’Empire ottoman comme une puissance coloniale, ce qu’elle était pourtant. NdA.

[2] Par définition, le Liban n’étant pas une nation ne peut être ni une démocratie, ni une république. NdA.

[3] “EU funds embezzled by Mogherini, Hariri and Mikati”, Voltaire Network, 24 January 2020.

[4] « L’administration Trump contre le Liban », Réseau Voltaire, 2 mai 2019.

[5] Une fuite de documents officiels britannique atteste de ce rôle. Lire Complete infiltrating Lebanon (65,11 Mo). Les résultats ambitionnés ont manifestement été tenus : les Libanais souffrent tellement qu’ils ne voient plus ni l’origine de leurs problèmes, ni les solutions à portée de main, cf. “Taking Lebanon’s Pulse after the Beirut Explosion”, Michael Robbins, Arab barometer, December 15, 2020.

[6] « Les Libanais, prisonniers de leur Constitution », par Thierry Meyssan, Réseau Voltaire, 21 octobre 2019.

[7] “Israel playing with Lebanese people’s nerves”, Voltaire Network, 30 September 2020.

[8] “President Macron’s bad play in Lebanon”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 29 September 2020.

[9] “Towards a partition of Lebanon?”, Voltaire Network, 8 October 2020.


‘Fruits of Peace’: Beitar Will Remain a Bastion of Israeli Racism

December 26, 2020

Beitar Jerusalem is well known for its anti-Arab, anti-Muslim bias and for its violent, racist supporters. (Photo: File)

By Issam Khalidi

Just recently Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a member of the UAE royal family, has pledged to invest 300 million shekels, or about $90 million, into the Beitar (Jerusalem) club over the next decade.

It wouldn’t be a big surprise if Al Khalifa invested in a club other than Beitar. This deal even made many Israelis surprised. The question that comes to mind here is why did Bin Nahyan choose to invest in this club? Does he intend to win the sympathy and favor of the most extremists in the Israeli society, or to fit the club’s deflection and adjust its racial behavior?

Indeed, it is merely a trading deal without looking into its political and moral dimensions. Also, as Rina Bassist mentioned in Al-Monitor “Not only was the deal a most tangible and direct result of the normalization agreement between the two countries, but it also confronted Beitar fans with a new, almost unimaginable reality.”

It is an illusion to think that Bin Khalifa and others are interested in purchasing historical documents that were stolen from Palestinian homes, libraries and institutions as a result of the Nakba (i.e., catastrophe) of 1948, or restoring homes and landmarks that were abandoned by their residents who became refugees in neighboring countries.

Bin Khalifa said that his investment represents “the fruits of peace and brotherhood between the two countries and this step will further bring people together through sports.”

Of course, sport is soft power and a great tool for peace, brotherhood, and friendship that could bring people together. However, in order to bring Palestinians and Israelis together through sports few things are required. The most important of which is ending the Israeli occupation. Friendly meetings and tournaments cannot be undertaken under repression, land confiscation, checkpoints, apartheid wall, blockades, arrests, and killings. Rather, under an independent Palestinian state and equal rights for Palestinians.

Israel is the only beneficiary of this deal, as it is the beneficiary of all its normalization agreements with other countries, and other peace agreements signed with Egypt, Jordan, and PLO. This club and its fans cannot be tamed, because the epidemic of racism is so rampant, its roots are so deep in the Israeli society that it cannot be eradicated. Today, it is not surprising to see that a new Israeli generation is born with genes of racism.

Despite the club’s apparent enthusiasm over the deal, many of Beitar’s fans remain upset at this shocking buyout. Fans have reportedly spray-painted offensive and racist graffiti on the walls of the stadium as a sign of their disappointment and anger.

Beitar is considered one of the clubs in the Israeli First Division Football League, known for its hardline stances against Arab and Palestinians, and there is no Arab player among its ranks. Fans of “Beitar Jerusalem” are historically considered hostile to Muslims and Arabs, especially the notorious far-right fan group “La Familia” known for its songs against the Prophet Muhammad. In 2016, nineteen members of the group were charged with attempted murder, including supporters of rival squads.

In October, the Arab member in the Knesset, Ayman Odeh, requested the removal of a racist song by the “La Familia” group that insulted the Prophet Muhammad that was published on “YouTube”. The site later removed the video from its platform.

This football club in specific has never had any Arab player on its ranks. Two Palestinian citizens of Israel who play on Israeli teams describe the racism and violence they are subjected to by Beitar fans. Alaa Abu Saleh, who plays for Bnei Sakhnin, says “It’s like war.”

In June 2019, the club refrained from joining the Nigerian player, Muhammad Ali, because of his name, or changing his name, as a condition for accepting his play with the team.

Beitar team relies on its popularity on the people of eastern sects who usually live-in poor neighborhoods and are known for their hatred of Arabs, and most of them belong to the religious parties and the Likud party.

Beitar was founded by the revisionist Jabotinsky in 1926 emerged as a movement opposed to the workers’ Histadrut in Palestine, and the members wore brown shirts as part of the movement’s fascist coloration. As for those who split from the Haganah in 1930 and established (Etzel) and (Lehi), they were members of Beitar. Its members became involved in terrorist acts in Palestine in the 1930s. Haganah, Palmach, and Vaad Leumi these terrorist organizations played a pivotal role in the establishment of the State of Israel.

The club has been trying to change its image in recent years, and in 2017 it received an award from President Reuven Rivlin for its efforts in combating racism and significantly reducing the number of anti-Arab and Muslim chants in its matches. However, racism in Israel isn’t going away, it’s getting worse and has been spurred long ago by Zionism, which is a racist ideology.

The Jewish Holocaust survivor, historian, author, and a former president of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights, Israel Shahak wrote on the racism of Zionism and the State of Israel (1975):

“It is my considered opinion that the State of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of this term: In this state, people are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin. This racist discrimination began in Zionism and is carried out today mainly in cooperation with the institutions of the Zionist movement.”

– Issam Khalidi is an independent scholar, the author of History of Sports in Palestine 1900-1948 (in Arabic), One Hundred Years of Football in Palestine (in Arabic and English), co-edited Soccer in the Middle East, as well as articles and essays on the subject of sports included at http://www.hpalestinesports.net. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Sayyed Nasrallah Vows Punishment for Every Crime: Hezbollah’s Guided Missiles More than Doubled

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By Zeinab Abdallah

Beirut – Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah appeared on al-Mayadeen TV with Ghassan Bin Jeddo in a special episode named ‘Dialogue of the Year’. The four-hour long interview touched upon almost all regional issues that happened this year, although the pivotal segment was about martyr General Qassem Soleimani and Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis less than a week ahead of their first martyrdom anniversary.

Starting with the possible options that would take place during US President Donald Trump’s few days in office, Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that there is not accurate information that Trump or the ‘Israeli’ enemy will take an action. “There are just certain analyses,” His Eminence noted, adding that everybody is anticipating and expecting what Trump might do in the coming days.

“The Axis of Resistance is dealing cautiously, accurately and attentively so that no post of this axis would be lured towards any confrontation that suits the enemies’ timing, but when the enemy creates massive media noise, this means that it won’t do anything, and that it is rather waging a psychological warfare,” Sayyed Nasrallah stressed noting that “this doesn’t mean that we mustn’t remain cautious.”

Regarding the news about a possible ‘Israeli’ landing that has taken place along Lebanon’s Jiyeh coastline, the Hezbollah leader made clear that the party’s information doesn’t provide that any ‘Israeli’ landing has taken place as it was reported in media.”

Saudi attempts to assassinate Sayyed Nasrallah

Moving to the issue of assassination, the crime by which a US drone killed the Islamic Revolution Guard’s Quds Force Commander, and Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units’ Second-in-command, Sayyed Nasrallah explained that many sides have warned him about plots to target him especially after the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani. “This is something normal and well known,” His Eminence commented.

“I’ve been warned about assassinating me ahead of the US Presidential Elections, and that any targeting might be ‘Israeli’ or American,” the resistance leader explained, going further to uncover that targeting Hezbollah leaders is an American-‘Israeli’-Saudi goal: “I have information that Saudi Arabia has been stirring to assassinate me since the beginning of its war on Yemen, and private sources have informed me that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman requested my assassination in person during his first visit to Washington and his first meeting with Trump.”

Sayyed Nasrallah cited the same sources as saying that Saudi Arabia took it upon itself that in case a war erupts after his assassination, it was ready to pay all the financial costs for this war.

“The Americans have agreed on a Saudi request to assassinate me, and that ‘Israel’ would execute this assassination. Saudi Arabia doesn’t act rationally, it has been acting maliciously especially in the recent years,” His Eminence went on to say, then he accused the US, ‘Israel’, and Saudi Arabia of partnership in the crime of assassinating leaders Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

“The crime of assassinating Hajj Qassem was a clear one, uncovered, and similar to the assassination of Sayyed Abbas al-Moussawi.”

Soleimani, the Sayyed’s own self

When talking about martyr Soleimani, Sayyed Nasrallah couldn’t have enough listing his manners and characteristics. He described the martyr as a very special person on the level of ethics. He also referred to him as a charismatic person who had the ability to influence all those who had to know him.

“On the military level, martyr Soleimani was a strategic and tactical leader at the same time,” His Eminence noted.

Describing the time that preceded the martyrdom, Sayyed Nasrallah said that he was very worried about him and he has warned him repeatedly.

“I miss Hajj Qassem very much… We have worked together and faced challenges together. I used to feel that Hajj Qassem and I were one person.”

Hajj Abu Mahdi, the main partner in Iraq’s victories

When talking about martyr Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Sayyed Nasrallah recommended that his identity should be more defined to the people, referring to him as a great person.

“Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis is very much like Hajj Qassem, and this is why they met in the battlefield, and Allah has concluded their lives with this martyrdom.”

His Eminence explained that Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was suggested to assume [governmental] responsibilities in Iraq, but he preferred to work in the battlefield.

“Martyr Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was a main partner in making the two victories against Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] and the US occupation of Iraq,” Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say.

“He was one of the leaders of the Axis of Resistance that surpasses Iraq and reaches all regional causes.”

Hajj Qassem, the transnational resistance commander

When tackling the issue of the US presence in Iraq, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that the Americans have left Iraq by force, humiliated and defeated thanks to the strikes of the resistance.

“The Americans fled Iraq under fire because they begged martyr Soleimani to stop the Iraqi resistance operations against them.”

As for Palestine, the Sayyed added that martyr Soleimani developed ties with all Palestinian resistance factions: “There were not any redlines for martyr Soleimani on the level of supporting Palestinian resistance factions,” uncovering that the ‘Kornet’ missiles reached the Palestinian resistance in Gaza thanks to martyr Soleimani.

“The efforts made by Hajj Qassem Soleimani and the Quds Force in supporting the Palestinian resistance factions were ongoing behind the scenes.”

Additionally, the resistance leader uncovered that the Russian-made ‘Kornet’ missiles Hezbollah used in the July 2006 war were purchased by Syria from Russia, and then Hezbollah took them.

Additionally, Sayyed Nasrallah made clear that Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed that the ‘Kornet’ missiles purchased by Damascus from Moscow reach ‘Hamas’ and the ‘Islamic Jihad’ resistance movements in Gaza.

Sayyed Nasrallah hailed martyr Soleimani and his team’s dedication to present all what could be offered to Palestine on all levels. His Eminence also praised Assad’s willingness to support the Palestinian resistance.

Normalization only took the masks off

On the level of Arab normalization with the ‘Israeli’ enemy, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that it is something that didn’t surprise him, adding that this is because most of the Arab regimes were only telling the Palestinians mere lies.

“We view the normalization deals from the perspective that masks have been taken off, and that those Arab regimes’ submissive realities appeared clearly.”

Iran is just a pretext the Arab regimes use to justify their normalization deals because they find the Palestinian cause as a burden for them, Sayyed Nasrallah added, stressing that there isn’t any reason that justifies the abandoning of Palestine.

Sayyed Nasrallah also lamented Morocco’s Justice and Development Party’s stance which he considered was more painful and more dangerous than that of the regimes’ normalization with ‘Israel’.

The ever-growing Axis of Resistance

In terms of power and numbers, the resistance leader emphasized that the might of the Axis of Resistance has multiplied many more times than its level several years ago, stressing that the most important thing is having a strong will.

“We are an axis in a state of legitimate self-defense, to defend our countries, sanctities, peoples, wealth. The Axis of Resistance has made major and great achievements,” His Eminence underscored.

“Without any exaggeration, the Axis of Resistance is stronger than any time before. The Axis was able to contain the strike of Hajj Qassem Soleimani’s martyrdom although it was very hard,” Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out.

Regarding the Ain al-Assad strike, Sayyed Nasrallah referred to it as an important response that shows how a leadership of a state in the world deals a blow to the United States: “The Ain al-Assad strike was a historical slap because the equation in confronting the Americans is not about killing, and Washington thought that by assassinating leaders it would put an end to the Axis of Resistance, while in fact this axis is not based upon a person by himself.”

His Eminence then vowed that punishing the killers of martyrs Soleimani and al-Muhandis is a goal for every honorable person, warning those who ordered and executed that they will be punished wherever they were.

“What the world should learn is that the blood of the leaders won’t be in vain, and the killers of Hajj Qassem and Abu Mahdi must be punished sooner or later,” Sayyed Nasrallah said.

His Eminence praised the joint drills held between the Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza as a very important step and a development that shows their strength and frightens the enemy at the same time.

Martyr Soleimani’s role in Iraq

Sayyed Nasrallah explained that martyr Soleimani’s appearance in media started with the battles against Daesh in Iraq, adding that it was not an intended issue.

“Hajj Qassem Soleimani didn’t seek being mentioned in a news, being in the spotlight or even hailed by anybody, and his relationship with the religious leadership in Iraq was good, especially on the level of main issues.”

Explaining that the vast majority of military operations against the US occupation in Iraq was carried out by the resistance factions, Sayyed Nasrallah said that groups of young Iraqis started the armed resistance against the US troops in Iraq without a political cover.

“Arab satellite channels refused to broadcast the videos that document the Iraqi resistance operations against the American occupation. Meanwhile, resistance in Iraq received real support from al-Quds Force and Hajj Qassem Soleimani.”

Sayyed Nasrallah contrasted al-Qaeda’s 4800 suicide attacks that were carried out against civilians on Iraqi soil, showing the difference when it came to the Iraqi resistance operations that were precisely meant to pressure the occupation and were very keen and accurate to avoid harming any civilian.

That’s why, Sayyed Nasrallah explained, the US Army threatened Hajj Qassem and al-Quds Force to strike their posts in Iran if they continued to support the Iraqi resistance: “The US Army then sent a message to Hajj Qassem to help them withdraw from Iraq without being hit by fire.”

Hadn’t been to the Iraqi resistance, Sayyed Nasrallah said that the US embassy would have been in control of Iraq.

However, Donald Trump keeps his troops in Iraq and Syria to steal their resources and oil, the Hezbollah leader added.

Forecasting the scheme against Syria

Sayyed Nasrallah narrated how martyr Soleimani was concerned about the American attempts to ride the tide of the peoples’ uprisings to target some regimes after America allowed toppling its man in Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak.

“Martyr Soleimani was the first to forecast the risks heading to Syria under the pretext of the ‘Arab Spring’, because the country supports the resistance.”

And while the parties that really backed, funded, and led opposition the groups in Syria rushed for an armed confrontation, Iran contacted opposition groups in accordance with President Assad to reach a political solution, but all of them insisted that we are not in a state of political solution and there won’t be negotiations with the regime, which they predicted will collapse within days, Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say.

“There was a very big international and regional decision in the war on Syria to prevent any political solution for the Syrian crisis.”

Foreign forces supported the Syrian opposition as they believed that the regime would be toppled within two months. They wanted to weaken the regime in Syria and in need of making a settlement with ‘Israel’ and recognize it, the Hezbollah leader recalled.

“We had only two options, either to surrender and let the region collapse, or to resist; and we chose resistance,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, hailing Syria’s independence of decision, braveness of leadership, and neither submitting to the enemies nor to the allies.

“Syria was not only targeted for supporting Palestine and the resistance, but also to be occupied and to allow stealing its oil and gas.”

President Assad’s decision to remain steadfast was the main motivator for his allies in supporting Damascus and engaging in the confrontation next to him.

“Assad didn’t leave Damascus at all over the course of the battles, and in the most difficult times of the war he was strong and solid,” Sayyed Nasrallah added.

Soleimani in Moscow

On the level of the Russian military intervention in Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah labelled it as very influential.

His Eminence recalled that Russian President Vladimir Putin was hesitant in the beginning of the war to enter Syria; then Hajj Qassem went to Moscow and explained, with maps, the field situation. At the time, Putin told Hajj Qassem that he was convinced with entering Syria.

“With his charismatic persona, strong logic, and strategic explanation, Hajj Qassem contributed to convincing Putin with entering Syria based on logic and facts.”

Soleimani in the July 2006 War

About memories from the July 2006 war, Sayyed Nasrallah recalled how martyr Soleimani didn’t leave the Southern Suburb of Beirut [Dahiyeh] but for 48 hours to submit his report on the situation and contact the brothers in Syria and Iran.

“All of the ‘Israeli’ aerial bombing during the July 2006 war couldn’t stop the logistic support from reaching the resistance in Lebanon,” His Eminence added.

After the end of the war, martyr Soleimani played a role and shouldered the responsibility of following the project of sheltering the displaced people. “The one who formed the Iranian Committee to Reconstruct Lebanon was Hajj Qassem and martyr Engineer Hossam Khoshnavis.”

Sayyed Nasrallah lamented that he could never forget that there are sides within the Lebanese political authorities who were planning to keep people homeless for the longest possible period of time after the July 2006 war to incite them against the resistance.

Commenting on martyr Soleimani’s successor, Hajj Esmail Ghaani, Sayyed Nasrallah said that he used to meet him repeatedly when he was Hajj Qassem’s deputy: “He was informed with all files. And Hajj Qassem used to say that Hajj Ghaani is to succeed him.”

The void ‘Israeli’ threats

In a strong and confident comment about the Lebanese resistance group, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that Hezbollah is at it is: “Its strength, morale, and will are the same, or even much powerful.”

All the threats you hear from the enemy are because it knows that we will retaliate for its killing of our martyr in Syria. We are keeping our promise to respond to the ‘Israeli’ enemy’s killing of martyr Ali Mohsen, His Eminence made clear.

“The major alertness of the resistance was on all levels and in front of the ‘Israelis’’ sight. The ‘Israeli’ drones’ movement in the air is very confused as it anticipates the resistance’s response. The ‘Israeli’ knows that we have used the appropriate weapon towards its drones without making this public.”

The Hezbollah leader further announced that the precision-guided missiles owned by the resistance have doubled from the number it had a year ago.

“The resistance today is in a very good condition, and at the best of its capabilities. We believe in the future and trust that we are approaching victory.

The concerned party is the ‘Israeli’ and not the resistance especially as Trump is leaving and Washington might return to the nuclear deal with Iran.

A certain level of Hezbollah’s aerial defense has been exposed to the enemy, but whether there are higher levels or not is a matter that we don’t reveal, Sayyed Nasrallah said, noting that “we are keen to keep the ‘Israeli’ unaware of a lot about what the resistance has.”

“There are many issues that the ‘Israeli’ knows nothing about.”

Our Axis is on the top and it is ‘Israel’ which is in trouble, His Eminence underscored, adding that the resistance’s decision is to carry out an appropriate response that strengthens its deterrence; this won’t be achieved without targeting the enemy’s soldiers, he said.

“We don’t need a demonstrative action along the border that targets dummies. We want an actual response.”

Lebanon’s maritime borders, Gov’t issue

In a question about Lebanon’s indirect negotiations with the ‘Israeli’ regime regarding the demarcation of the maritime borders, Sayyed Nasrallah was confident to say that the negotiations under the current US administration will reach a dead end.

“Our right to prevent any ‘Israeli’ stealing of our waters is natural, and our ability to do this is non-negotiable,” His Eminence underscored.

Elsewhere in the interview, Sayyed Nasrallah said there is a positive atmosphere and cooperation between the Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Hezbollah.

However, he noted that there is a problem of trust that delays the formation of a Lebanese government, which is mainly between President Michel Aoun and the PM-designate.

The environment embracing resistance

On the level of discussing the resistance’s weapon within its own people, Sayyed Nasrallah said that the people of South Lebanon don’t see resistance as a burden, they rather view it as their shield.

“We support the threatened and targeted environment of resistance which is paying prices for this support, His Eminence said in reference to the sanctions targeting the entire country, “We try and we seek to present aid to the Lebanese people and to our environment with all possible means.”

Sayyed Nasrallah noted, however, that the problem in Lebanon is a problem of choices, and the evidence is that nobody dared to head eastward to find economic solutions.

“There is a misevaluation in linking solving some issues for some countries with the foreign factor.”

From this point, Sayyed Nasrallah went on to explain that Iran is a great regional power and a main axis in the region but it doesn’t negotiate instead of any of its allies in the region.

Iran, a non-interventionist superpower

“Iran doesn’t buy, sell, or negotiate with the Americans instead of the peoples of the region,” the resistance leader noted, adding that the Islamic Republic of Iran informed the Europeans that it is not concerned with negotiating on behalf of the Yemenis or others.

“Washington insisted to negotiate the Iraqi issue with Tehran; Iran, however, insisted that the Iraqis be present and that the negotiations be held in public.”

The Hezbollah-Hamas relations

Hezbollah leader said that he met with Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, brother Ismail Haniyeh several times during his last visit to Lebanon and discussed with him different regional issues that included bilateral relations and the relations with Syria.

“Relations between Hamas and Syria must be rearranged; there is a positive atmosphere even if it takes time. Logically, I believe that Hamas is tending to rearrange its ties with Damascus,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, noting that he talked with Haniyeh that Hamas should help in redirecting tendencies in the region, which include the Islah [Reform] Party’s fighting in Yemen against the Ansarullah movement.

Sayyed Nasrallah also greeted the Palestinians of the 1948 lands whom he described as “our brother and our people, and they are the ones who mostly desire the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.”

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President Assad Slaughtered Neoliberalism’s Four Sacred Cows

By Andrew Korybko

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President Assad Slaughtered Neoliberalism

Syrian President Assad just slaughtered neoliberalism’s four sacred cows of gay marriage, radical secularism, marijuana legalization, and gender theory in a short video of his latest speech that recently went viral on social media where he condemned these examples of “total moral degeneracy” that he very passionately believes “target our humanity”.

The “Great Social/Civilizational Reset”

The increasingly sharp contrast between the West’s extreme neoliberal social values and most of the rest of the world’s embrace of conservative traditionalism was brought to the fore of global attention after October’s terrorist beheading of a French schoolteacher for sharing satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The author published an analysis at the time asking “Is A ‘Great Social/Civilizational Reset Upon Us?”, which predicted that each value system’s proponents will become more vocal in the future but that this doesn’t necessarily imply that the fearmongered “Clash of Civilizations” scenario is inevitable. Rather, what’s likely to unfold is that each side more proudly reasserts their identity as time goes on, defending that which they hold dearest against what they regard as the threat represented by the other system. This is precisely what recently happened after a short video of Syrian President Assad’s latest speech went viral on social media where he slaughtered the four sacred cows of neoliberalism.

Syrian Girl Made The Syrian Leader Go Viral

Mimi Al Laham, also known as Syrian Girl on Twitter, translated the most important part into English. Her work was then shared by Infowars as part of their article titled “Bashar Al-Assad: Neoliberalism is Based on ‘Total Moral Degeneracy’”, which in turn brought it to the attention of countless people across the world. President Assad is known for his solid support of secularism in the face of fundamentalist religious threats to his country’s society, yet casual observers would have been mistaken if they assumed that this means that he’s sympathetic to neoliberalism. The reality couldn’t be more different since the Syrian leader showed that it’s possible to be a secular anti-liberal unlike what many people might have naively thought. Some of his own supporters abroad might even be a bit surprised by what he said since they probably didn’t expect him to group gay marriage, radical secularism, marijuana legalization, and gender theory together as examples of “total moral degeneracy” which he very passionately believes “target our humanity.”

Slaughtering The Four Sacred Cows

For the reader’s convenience, the author is sharing Syrian Girl’s translation of President Assad’s speech below:

Neoliberalism is based on promoting a total moral degeneracy and separating individuals from any principles or values and affiliations and beliefs in order to reach this moral degeneracy. Neoliberalism promoted gay marriage. They started in the 1970s and now gay marriage is legal. And now they have children but it’s different from adopting because how can they have children?

Neoliberalism promoted that a child does not choose his own religion and this is against the child’s freedom of expression. A child is born without any religion and later choose his own religion when he’s grown up. This is against human nature. Ever since human made their own idols and Gods, a child would instinctively belong to his family’s religion. They contradict humanity itself.

It has recently promoted that marijuana is not harmful and now it’s sold in shops legally. They started claiming that drugs are not harmful, and later they will find something more harmful. Now in some places you can buy marijuana-flavored bread. This is neoliberalism. It (neoliberalism) now claims that a child is born and does not have a gender, that the child chooses later to be a male or a female. Very strange indeed!

So what do we understand from this? Neoliberalism targets our humanity, and by doing so, it collides with religions because religions serve humanity while neoliberalism separates individuals from their values.”

From the above, there’s no doubt that President Assad slaughtered all four of neoliberalism’s sacred cows.

Reviewing President Assad’s Principled Views

Gay marriage, as he noted, has been pushed by neoliberals onto society for nearly the past half-century, after which it finally succeeded to such a wild extent that sex change surgeries can now even lead to so-called “male pregnancies”. According to President Assad, the radical neoliberal ideology of forcibly secularizing children “contradicts humanity itself”. Legalizing drugs, and especially Western society’s normalization of marijuana, is harmful in his eyes, and he also regards gender theory as “very strange indeed”. Taken together, it can unambiguously be said that President Assad sees little difference between “impregnating” sex-changed males, forcing children to accept secularism despite their parents’ wishes, eating a marijuana “brownie”, and convincing children that gender is a choice. These are all similar expressions of neoliberalism’s “moral degeneracy” and “targeting of humanity”, hence why they’re equally condemned. All four of these are like a cancer eating Western society from within, something that he wants to avoid having happen in Syria.

The Syrian Model Stands To Inspire The World

President Assad’s very principled defense of traditional values despite his vehement support for secularism challenges the assumption that the only ones who support the former are religious fundamentalists. As proven by none other than himself and his millions of supporters across the world, it’s entirely possible to simultaneously support secularism and traditional values while being strongly against both neoliberalism and religious fundamentalism. It’s not an either-or choice like those who want to provoke a so-called “Clash of Civilizations” dishonestly try to make everyone think. The world is so complex that not every society neatly falls into one or the other category as Syria shows. For this reason, the Syrian model might eventually be replicated by other countries that are striving to strike a balance between those two social extremes. In hindsight, the nearly decade-long Hybrid War of Terror that was launched against his country in 2011 might have even been partially predicated on erasing Syria’s unique social system from the face of the earth in order to prevent that.

Soleimani The Leader and The Role Model

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Soleimani The Leader and The Role Model

In the name of Allah the Merciful the Most Gracious

Images of his face were circulated all over the world, his name filled the horizons of the globe, and his star cast a shade over the Mujahideen. He was dedicated to obeying the guardian, the Imam and the Leader Khamenei. He journeyed the squares as a Mujahid, carrying his blood in his hand. Every moment of his life was counted as Jihad, for everything in it and everything he owned was for the sake of Allah. He was Lieutenant General Hajj Qassem Soleimani (may God Almighty be pleased with him), the martyr of the Ummah and Palestine and the leader of the martyrs of the axis of resistance.

All that is in him and what he has is for God and for the sake of God. He is Lieutenant General Hajj Qassem Soleimani (may God Almighty be pleased with him), the martyr of the Ummah and Palestine, and the leader of the martyrs of the axis of resistance.

Martyr Soleimani: A leader and role model

He was the expert leader in the fields of jihad and battle. He mastered his plans, succeeded in his operations against the enemies, he was well-versed in politics, understood international, regional, and local equations, and approached matters using his clear and insightful vision. He was loyal and devoted to the love of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his pure family (PBUT). He knew exactly the limits of Sharia law and the history of Muslims. He realized what was most important for the path of Islam and Muslims. It was he who set his sights on the liberation of Al-Quds and Palestine, heeding the call of Imam Khomeini, the Imam of the Ummah, the revolution, and the path – “‘Israel’ is a cancerous gland that must be eradicated from existence.” He was aware of the path of salvation by following the orders and approach of the nation’s leadership represented by the wali al-faqih Imam Khamenei. He was the leader who knew the features of the road with inclusiveness, awareness, and jihad. He is the leader of the martyrs of the axis of resistance.

He was the role model who lived with the Mujahideen in the heart of the battles and guided them through what he was doing. He was the security link between them and the leadership.

In 2013, the New Yorker wrote: “Soleimani indeed believes in Islam, and he is more polite compared to others. Perhaps the naming of Lieutenant General Soleimani as Haji or Hajj Qassem instead of his military titles in Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf states in general, is an indication of the predominance of his religious character in his behavior and dealings.”

Martyr Soleimani was distinguished by the charisma of the popular leadership, and he was the one who led the mujahideen in prayer before setting off to battle. He received blessings from the martyrs and delivered enthusiastic words full of faith and divine adoration before and after the military operations. [These words] were mixed with weeping and supplication, asking for forgiveness from the martyrs because he did not die like them. Before each attack, he embraced all of his fighters, one by one, tearfully bidding them farewell.

His life was modest, and he rarely met with his family because he spent most of his time on the battlefields of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan. From there, he looked over Palestine and Yemen and visited other countries for political and practical purposes.

With Hezbollah

Since martyr Soleimani assumed the leadership of the Quds Force in 1998, we in Hezbollah noticed an exceptional interest in our movement, in terms of equipment, armaments, training, and overall capabilities. He was part of setting up the main plans that developed the party’s work. He was part of the liberation in 2000, and was in the operation room crafting plans to repel the “Israeli” aggression in July 2006. He was the field commander who enabled the collapse of ISIS, from Iraq to Syria and until their project was uprooted in Lebanon that resulted in the second liberation – this time against the Takfiris in 2017 in the Battle of Jaroud.

The martyr would meet with the leaders of the Hezbollah Mujahideen from time to time and inform them of his view regarding developments and battlefield plans to confront “Israel” and the enemies. We were eager to hear his analyses, vision, and information and the data he possessed at the regional level.

During presentations, he was a lover of the party. He had a special relationship with His Eminence the Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (may God preserve him). They had many meetings, and absolute trust in one another. The martyr also had a special relationship with the great jihadist leader Hajj Imad Mughniyeh (may God be pleased with him) with respect to minute details that translated into successful confrontations and achieving victories. The same goes for his relationship with jihadist leader Sayyed Mustafa Badr al-Din (may God be pleased with him) when he assumed his duties, especially in Syria.

Martyr Soleimani was a direct field commander in Hezbollah, and he was never far away, neither geographically, nor in terms of politics. Rather, he was at the center of Hezbollah’s march, successes, jihad, developments, and prestige.

America is defeated

Had martyr Soleimani not caused the most pain to America and its aggressive, arrogant project in this world, Trump would not have decided to assassinate him in such a clear and deliberate manner. And if he had not achieved successes and many victories for the resistance axis, he would not have held such a special place in the hearts of the people.

The modern-day world has never before seen the million-man funeral procession in Iran and several other countries that they saw with Imam Khomeini and after him martyr Soleimani. The masses that gathered spontaneously and passionately in squares only validate the role, status, and importance of this commander in the eyes of the Ummah – {Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer].}

He faced America and “Israel” in his life and achieved victories in Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan, and in all the known and unknown battlefields where he operated. He also confronted the US in his martyrdom: the response at the Ain al-Assad base, the decision of the Iraqi parliament to expel the American forces that was achieved through his martyrdom and the that of dear and beloved brother Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in addition to the decision to expel America from the entire region and the rallying of the supporters of the resistance axis, especially in beloved Palestine, around the cause of liberation and determination to prioritize Al-Quds And Palestine.

We lost him in our lives, but he won the martyrdom that he wished for. {And those who have believed in Allah and His messengers – those are [in the ranks of] the supporters of truth and the martyrs, with their Lord. For them is their reward and their light.}

We benefited from the achievements of his work and what he planted during his jihad career. America has accumulated many defeats in our region despite the aggression it sponsored through “Israel” against Palestine and Lebanon, through Saudi Arabia and the Emirates against Yemen, through the Takfiris and Daesh against Iraq and Syria, directly attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, and through sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and the axis of resistance. America today did not achieve its goals, and its stepdaughter, “Israel”, did not attain the assertion of its borders.

Even though the results of the U.S. elections do not concern us, we consider the fall of the tyrant, Trump, a lesson for the oppressors. As for Biden’s presidency, he follows his policies. Let him know that we adhere to our land and independence, and we will carry on as a resistance movement regardless of the sacrifices. Those who stood firm and defeated “Israel”, faced sanctions, and did not change their positions under the most difficult circumstances will never squander their achievements and the blood of the martyrs. Hezbollah will be strong and ready in terms of its jihadist position, preparing all its deterrence capabilities in defense against “Israel” and the annexes of its occupation.

The presence of the axis of resistance, its steadfastness, and the balance of deterrence that it created are strong. Through a quick and comprehensive reading of what the axis of resistance is, and despite the aggression, pressures, and threats, we will find that it owes a lot of its strength that enables more victories to the leader of the Quds Force, martyr Soleimani. The people and Mujahideen of this region are determined to continue the march of martyr Soleimani and confront America and “Israel” to achieve liberation and independence from subordination. {And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose.}

                                                                                                                                             12/21/2020

                                                                                                                      Deputy Secretary General of Hezbollah

                                                                                                                                     Sheikh Naim Qassem

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