THE ISRAEL FILES: WIKILEAKS DOCS SHOW TOP HOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS WORKING WITH ISRAEL TO DEFEND ITS WAR CRIMES

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2022

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THE ISRAEL FILES IS A NEW MINTPRESS SERIES EXPLORING AND HIGHLIGHTING THE MANY REVELATIONS ABOUT THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE THAT WIKILEAKS DOCUMENTS DISCLOSED. IT HOPES TO SHED LIGHT ON MANY OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AND UNDERREPORTED REVELATIONS THE PUBLISHING GROUP EXPOSED. 

By Alan Macleod

As Israel was launching a deadly assault on Gaza, killing thousands of civilians and displacing more than 100,000 people, many of America’s top TV, music and film producers were organizing to protect the apartheid state’s reputation from widespread international condemnation.

Together, the Sony Archive – a cache of emails published by Wikileaks – prove that influential entertainment magnates attempted to whitewash Israeli crimes and present the situation as defending itself from an impending “genocide”, liaised with Israeli military and government officials in order to coordinate their message, attempted to cancel those who spoke out against the injustice, and put financial and social pressure on institutions who hosted artists criticizing the apartheid government’s actions.

AS ISRAEL ATTACKS, HOLLYWOOD PLAYS DEFENSE

“[Israel’s message] Must be repeated ad infinitum until the people get it,” wrote Hollywood lawyer and producer Glenn D. Feig, in an email chain to many of Tinsel Town’s most influential executives. This was in response to the unprovoked 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza, one of the bloodiest chapters in over half a century of occupation.

Named “Operation Protective Edge”, the Israeli military engaged in seven weeks of near-constant bombing of the densely populated coastal strip. According to the United Nations, over 2,000 people were killed – a quarter of them children. 18,000 houses were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless.

The Israeli military deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, knocking out Gaza’s only power plant and shutting down its water treatment plants, leading to economic, social and ecological devastation in an area Human Rights Watch has labeled the world’s largest “open air prison”.

Many in Hollywood expressed deep concern. “We must make sure that never happens again”, insisted producer Ron Rotholz. Rotholz, however, was not referring to the death and destruction Israel imposed on Gaza, but to the fact that many of the entertainment world’s biggest stars, including celebrity power couple, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, had condemned Israel’s actions, labeling them tantamount to “genocide.”

“Change must start from the top down. It should be unheard of and unacceptable for any Academy Award-winning actor to call the legitimate armed defense of one’s territory…genocide” he continued, worrying that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a worldwide campaign to put economic pressure on Israel in an attempt to push it to meet its obligations under international law – was gaining steam in the world of the arts. Israel’s legitimacy rests upon political and military support from the U.S. Therefore, maintaining support among the American public is crucial to the long term viability of its settler colonial project.

Rotholz then attempted to organize a silent, worldwide pressure campaign on arts venues and organizations, including the Motion Picture Academy in Hollywood and the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, to stamp out BDS, writing,

What we can do is urge the leaders of major film, TV and theater organisations, festivals, markets and potentially the heads of media corporations to issue official statements condemning any form of cultural or economic boycotts against Israel.”

Others agreed that they had to develop a “game plan” for opposing BDS.

Of course, when influential producers, festivals and heads of media corporations release statements condemning a certain position or practice, this is, in effect, a threat: stop taking these positions or suffer the professional consequences.

LOACH ON THE BRAIN

The Sony emails also reveal a near obsession with British filmmaker and social activist Ken Loach. The celebrated director’s film, “Jimmy’s Hall” had recently been nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and in the wake of Israel’s assault on Gaza, he had publicly called for a cultural and sporting boycott of the apartheid state.

This outraged many in Hollywood. Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media, a film producing company responsible for financing more than 200 movies, demanded that not only Loach, but the whole Cannes Film Festival be cancelled. “The studios and networks alike must join together and boycott cannes,” he wrote. “If we don’t we are sending a message that another holocaust is fine with Hollywood as long as it is business as usual,” he added, framing the Israeli attack on a near-defenseless civilian population as a Palestinian genocide of Israelis.

Others agreed. Ben Silverman, former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios and producer of shows such as “The Office”, “The Biggest Loser” and Ugly Betty” said that the industry should “boycott the boycotters”. Rotholz, meanwhile, wrote to the head of the Cannes Film Festival, demanding that he take action against Loach for his comments. “There is no place for [Loach’s intolerant and hateful remarks] in the global world of film and filmmakers”, he insisted.

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Others came up with another way of countering Loach. “How about we all club together and make a documentary about the rise of new anti-Semitism in Europe,” suggested British film producer Cassian Elwes, adding,

I would be willing to contribute and put time into it if others here would do the same. Between all of us I’m sure we could figure out a way to distribute it and get it into places like Cannes so we could have a response to guys like Loach. Perhaps we try to use it to rally support from film communities in Europe to help us distribute it there”.

“I love it,” replied publishing oligarch Jason Binn, “And I will promote it in a major way to all 3.2 million magazine subscribers across all on and offline platforms. I can even leverage Gilt’s 9 million members,” he added, referring to the shopping and lifestyle website he managed.

“Me too,” said Amy Pascal, the Co-Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Meanwhile, Mark Canton, producer of movies such as “Get Carter”, “Immortals” and “300” busied himself drumming up more Hollywood support for the idea. “Adding Carmi Zlotnik to this growing list”, he replied, referencing the TV executive.

This whole correspondence was from an email chain of dozens of high-powered entertainment figures entitled “Happy New Year. Too bad Germany is now a no travel zone for Jews,” which ludicrously claimed that the European country had become a Muslim-controlled Islamic theocracy.

“It is horrible. But in the end, it is no surprise, because apologists for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians will go to any length to prevent the people opposing them,” Mr. Loach said, when asked for comment by MintPress. “We shouldn’t underestimate the hatred of those who cannot tolerate the idea that Palestinians have human rights, that Palestine is a state; and they have their country,” he added.

SHUTTING DOWN FREE EXPRESSION

The pro-Israel group in Hollywood also put serious pressure on American institutions to crack down on support for Palestinian human rights. Silverman revealed that he had written to Peter Gelb, the general manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera, in an effort to shut down a performance of “The Death of Klinghoffer”, an opera that tells the story of the 1985 hijacking of an airliner by the Palestine Liberation Front. “I suggest though that we each call him on Monday at his office at the Met and your point about the Met’s donors’ leverage is important,” he advised the other entertainment oligarchs, thereby shining a light on how the powerful move in secret to silence speech they do not approve of, and how they use their financial clout to coerce and strong-arm others into toeing their line. A lot of pressure was necessary, because, as Silverman explained, “as members of the artistic community it is very hard to be pro free speech only some of the time and not all of the time.”

Ultimately, the performance did go ahead, but not without a large and coordinated protest both inside and outside the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, as individuals attempted to shut down the performance, claiming it was “antisemitic.”

LIAISING WITH THE IDF

The email conversations of many of Hollywood’s most influential individuals show that they believe they are on the verge of a worldwide extermination of Jews, and that Israel – and themselves – are the only things standing in the way of this impending fate. As Kavanaugh wrote, “It’s our job to keep another Holocaust from happening. Many of you may think that can’t happen, that is extreme…[but] If you pull newspapers from pre Holocaust it seems eerily close to our world today.”

Rotholz was of a similar opinion, writing that,

It is imperative that leading figures in the LA/NY film, tv, media, digital and theater communities who support a strong and potent Jewish state develop a strategy for liasing with colleagues in London and Europe and also with the creative communities here and in Europe to promote and explain the Israeli cause.”

The Sony Archive emails also show that, not only were Tinsel Town’s top brass coordinating strategies to silence critics of Israel, but that they were also closely liaising with the Israeli government and its military.

Producer George Perez, for example, messaged his colleagues in the chain email to introduce them to an IDF colonel, stating (emphasis added),

Everyone please use this “reply all” list from here on.  I have included Kobi Marom a retired commander in the Israeli army. Kobi was kind enough to give my family and I a jeep tour of the Golan Heights during our June trip to Israel.  He also took us to visit an army base on the border of Israel and Syria, an area which has been in the news lately.  Hard to imagine that the “kids” that we met at the base are most likely engaged in combat with our enemies.”

Seeing as the large majority of those who died were Palestinian civilians, it is unclear whether he considers all Palestinians or just Hamas as enemies of Hollywood. Perez also noted that “Kobi works closely with the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) who are in need of donations,” and advised that Hollywood needed to “dig deep to help in the constant struggle for the survival of Israel.”

Hollywood celebrities including famed producer Haim Saban and actress Fran Drescher, pose with IDF soldiers at the FIDF Western Region Gala

The group also attempted to recruit Israeli-American movie star Natalie Portman into their ranks. But the Academy Award-winning actress appeared more concerned that her personal details were being shared. “How did I get on this list? Also Ryan Seacrest?” she replied, before directly addressing Kavanaugh, writing,

[C]an you please remove me from this email list? you should not be copying me publicly so that 20 people i don’t know have my personal info. i will have to change my email address now.  thank you”.

While Portman’s open contempt for the group of rabidly pro-Israel producers is notable, more so was Kavanaugh’s response, which revealed how close the connection between the Israeli state and Hollywood is. Kavanaugh wrote back,

Sorry. You are right Jews being slaughtered for their beliefs and Cannes members calling for the boycott of anything Israel or Jewish is much much less important than your email address being shared with 20 of our peers who are trying to make a difference. my deepest apologies…I had lunch yesterday with Israel consulate general who brought J street up to me. He was so perplexed confused and concerned when he heard you supported them that he begged me to connect you two.”

Thus, the leaked emails prove beyond any doubt that both the Israeli government and the IDF liaise with some of the most powerful people in the entertainment world in order to push forward a pro-Israel message and stamp out any deviance from that line.

HIP HOPPERS FOR APARTHEID

While their efforts at recruiting Portman fell flat, one star who responded enthusiastically was hip hop mega producer Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records and the brother of Joseph “Rev.Run” Simmons, one third of Run DMC. Simmons has recently been the subject of controversy, after 20 women have come forward, charging him with rape or other sexual misconduct.

The emails reveal that promoting engagement with Israel within the African-American community is one of Simmons’ primary interests. When asked if he had any ideas how to improve Israel’s image, he said, “Simple messaging from non Jews specifically from Muslims promoting peace and Israel’s right to exist…We have resources and the desire to win rather than lose the hearts of young Muslims and Jews.”

What these resources were, he explained,

We have hundreds of collaboration programs between Imams Rabbis and their congregations We have many respected imams who would join former chief rabbi metzker (spelling) rabbi Schneier and non Jews in promoting the Saudi peace plan”.

“Through this campaign we will be helping Israel,” he concluded.

TURNING THE TIDE

Despite the best efforts of Simmons and others, however, American public opinion has, in recent years, begun to turn against Israel. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people and support an independent Palestinian state.

Much of this has to do with the rise of social media and a new generation of activists breaking through the barriers to highlight injustices being carried out by their government. Today, Americans are more likely to see first-hand, unvarnished accounts of Israeli brutality on social media platforms. As veteran political scientist Noam Chomsky explained to MintPress last year, “The veil of intense propaganda [is] being lifted slowly, [and] crucial U.S. participation in Israeli crimes is also coming more clearly into view. With committed activism, that could have salutary effects.”

Despite the best efforts of Simmons and others, however, American public opinion has, in recent years, begun to turn against Israel. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people and support an independent Palestinian state.

Much of this has to do with the rise of social media and a new generation of activists breaking through the barriers to highlight injustices being carried out by their government. Today, Americans are more likely to see first-hand, unvarnished accounts of Israeli brutality on social media platforms. As veteran political scientist Noam Chomsky explained to MintPress last year, “The veil of intense propaganda [is] being lifted slowly, [and] crucial U.S. participation in Israeli crimes is also coming more clearly into view. With committed activism, that could have salutary effects.”

Nevertheless, U.S. government support for Israel continues to rise. Between 2019 and 2028, it is scheduled to send nearly $40 billion in aid, almost all of it military, meaning that American taxpayer funds are contributing to Palestinian oppression and displacement.

Loach was even more upbeat on the issue, telling us that those who stand in the way of justice will be judged poorly by history, stating,

The denial of human rights of the Palestinians is one of the great crimes [of the modern era] and Palestinian rights is one of the great causes of last century and this century. We should all support the Palestinians. If you have any care for human rights, there is no question: the Palestinians have to be supported. And these people who oppose them, in the end, will fade away. Because history will show this was a terrible crime. Palestinians suffered ethnic cleansing of their homeland. We have to support the Palestinians, full stop.”

Those people, however, have no intention of “fading away”, and continue to organize on behalf of the Israeli government. Thanks to the leaked documents, those who care about Palestinian self-determination have a clearer understanding of how they operate.

MARVEL HEADS REVEALED TO BE CLOSELY CONNECTED TO ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2022

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By Jessica Buxbaum

Earlier this month, activists and comic book fans alike were in uproar over Marvel Studios’ announcement that Israeli actress Shira Haas will play Zionist superhero Sabra in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Captain America: New World Order. Many Palestine advocates accused Marvel’s decision to add Sabra to the MCU as exalting Israeli abuse and war crimes.

“By glorifying the Israeli army & police, Marvel is promoting Israel’s violence against Palestinians & enabling the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israel’s authoritarian military rule,” the Institute for Middle East Understanding wrote in a tweet.

Following the backlash, Marvel said in a statement to Variety that it will take a “new approach” to the character, in a perceived attempt to placate criticisms.

Yet vows to reimagine the Sabra character, a former spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, may come across as disingenuous, especially when, upon closer examination, Marvel appears closely connected to the Israeli government and its main intelligence agency Mossad.

MARVEL AND ISRAEL’S DEEPENING RELATIONSHIP

Many individuals who have held or still maintain roles at Marvel are associated with the Israeli military, Israeli intelligence and Zionist institutions that uphold apartheid. For instance, Isaac Perlmutter, the current chairman of Marvel Entertainment who served on Marvel Comics’ board of directors until 1995, grew up in 1948-occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) and served in the Israeli military during the 1967 Six-Day War. Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, also grew up in modern-day Israel and served in the Israeli army during the Six-Day War.

Along with his wife, Laura, Perlmutter oversees a foundation that contributes to several pro-Israel causes such as the Anti-Defamation LeagueFriends of the Israel Defense Forces, the America-Israel Friendship League, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County in Florida, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation has also supported the Hebrew University and Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology.

The Perlmutters are also heavily linked to the Trump family. In 2016, their organization donated $25,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation. According to Open Secrets, a campaign finance tracker, in 2016, Laura Perlmutter donated $5,400 to former President Donald Trump’s campaign and nearly $450,000 to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising initiative by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. The couple then gave more than $1 million to the Trump Victory Committee in 2019 and 2020 and contributed another $11,200 to Trump’s reelection campaign in 2019.

President Trump shakes hand with Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire and the CEO of Marvel on April 27, 2017. Andrew Harnik | AP

Isaac Perlmutter donated $5 million in 2016 to the Great America PAC, a super political action committee (PAC) supporting Trump. The couple also contributed $10.5 million in 2020 to American First Action, a PAC supporting Trump. In addition, Both Perlmutters have backed several state and federal Republican entities and candidates over the years. The hefty donations did not go unnoticed, earning Isaac a spot in shaping policies at the Department of Veteran Affairs during Trump’s time in office, according to an investigation by ProPublica.

Early Marvel Comics’ investors Carl Icahn and Ronald Perelman are also tied to both Israel and Trump. Icahn donated $5,400 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was subsequently named Trump’s special adviser

Both Perelman and Icahn were revealed as potential donors to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign ahead of the 2007 primary elections. Perelman’s foundation has also contributed to several pro-Israel organizations, including the Chabad Lubavitch’s social services agency, Machne Israel, and the Jewish National Fund, which is a leading organization in establishing illegal Israeli settlements and displacing Palestinians.

Perelman also donated $125,000 to Trump’s Victory Committee in 2017 and is reportedly friends with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He was also listed in convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s address book.

Film producer Amy Pascal, who plays a key role in coordinating the collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, is a known Israel lobbyist. Leaked Sony emails reveal Pascal received email updates on the security situation in Israel from the now-defunct, right-wing advocacy group, The Israel Project.

She also received emails from Creative Community for Peace, an organization fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the entertainment industry. In 2014, Pascal and her husband also received an email invitation to attend a private event about the situation in Israel with the Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles, David Siegel, and president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson.

Israeli propaganda has become deeply entrenched in Hollywood, in part because of many prominent entertainment oligarchs’ pro-Israel beliefs, as well as the global success of Israeli television series like “Shtisel” and “Fauda”. The latter television show glamorized the Israeli army, specifically the Mista’arvim unit, an undercover military wing designed to infiltrate Palestinian communities.

Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman also helped normalize Israel on the world stage, especially given her pride in serving in the Israeli military. Now Haas, who is set to play Sabra, is poised to be another example of Hollywood normalizing the apartheid state. Haas has been involved with pro-Israel organization, StandWithUs, participating in a StandWithUs Facebook live to talk about her success. StandWithUs presents itself as an educational resource on Israel, but the organization is responsible for silencing the Palestinian narrative in schools and blacklisting pro-Palestine voices on campuses. Haas also served in the Israeli military’s theater.

The Mossad works with the U.S. entertainment industry to promote an attractive image of Israel abroad. SPYLEGENDS – an agency made up of former Mossad spies and other ex-security officials – was established in 2021 to advise Hollywood on spy films. The Mossad has also openly welcomed the slew of thrillers showcasing the intelligence agency as sleek and prestigious in an effort to boost recruitment.

MARVEL’S LINKS TO US MILITARISM AND INTELLIGENCE

Marvel’s nationalist sentiment does not end with Israel. Cloaked in mesmerizing cinematography and flashy special effects, the American company has also been instrumental in promoting U.S. militarism with its comic book universe.

In “Captain America: The First Avenger”, the U.S. army allowed Marvel Studios to film at Camp Edward, a military training site. The 2003 “Hulk” film also benefited from access to military bases and loaned military equipment. “Iron Man” and its sequel created iconic scenes by borrowing the military’s weaponry as well. These Marvel movies — along with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain Marvel” — received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to help build their blockbuster enterprise.

The military’s support, however, came with a price. The Pentagon approved the scripts for “Hulk” and “Iron Man”, cutting out unfavorable references to the military, such as their experimentation on humans and dropping herbicides on South East Asia during the Vietnam War.

With the “Captain America” franchise, the army supported the Marvel movie, seeing it as “building resiliency” and considering the Captain America character to hold values of a modern U.S. soldier. “Captain Marvel” was the Air Force public relations department’s dream. The film’s release coincided with an Air Force recruitment campaign, using feminism as a way to sugar coat “Captain Marvel’s” obvious militarism. The recruitment effort clearly worked with the Air Force seeing the highest number of female applicants to the Air Force Academy in five years.

With Marvel’s U.S. military propaganda in full swing, it seems the studio is now turning its focus to Israeli nationalism. Whether Sabra will don an Israeli-flag-inspired suit remains to be seen, but what is apparent is Marvel’s close relationship with Israel and the U.S. military is manufacturing a fantasy world dripping in real-world imperialism.

HOW WESTERN INTELLIGENCE AGENTS TRAFFICKED TEENS INTO ISIS’ HANDS, WITH SALLY LETTS

By Lowkey

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The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

Lowkey begins this latest episode by delving into recent revelations around the case of Shamima Begum, a British national who fled the U.K. as a teenager and joined ISIS in Syria.  Lowkey examines the new admission that a Canadian secret service agent trafficked at least 140 British citizens into Syria. He also examines Turkish police claims that this agent’s handler was believed to be British intelligence working out of the Canadian Embassy. It is important to remember that the British Monarch is the head of state in Canada.

When asked about these activities, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau responded that his intelligence agencies must be “creative and flexible.” To gauge the response to this, Lowkey is joined by Sally Letts, the mother of Jack Letts, a Canadian citizen who is currently detained in a prison in Northern Syria after travelling there during the war. Both Letts and Begum have had their British citizenship stripped by the government, despite the question marks surrounding their journeys there.

As a direct reply to Trudeau, Sally Letts suggests his statement could be read as meaning that it is “perfectly acceptable for the Canadian Security Service here to engage in child trafficking.”

Richard Walton, former head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, sought to justify this policy:

If you are running agents on the ground, you are acquiescing to what they are doing. You are turning a blind eye”.

During the podcast, Sally and Lowkey explored the Active Change Foundation and its curious role in obtaining the conviction of her and her husband for funding terrorism. Their son had been imprisoned three times by ISIS and his family sought to rescue him. Discussing how this Prevent-backed counter-extremist organization, which initially portrayed itself to be an ally to the family, was secretly gathering intel and giving false impressions to the family about rescuing their son. This in turn led to the conviction of Jack’s parents. Thus, the steps taken by Active Change Foundation toward the Letts family are eerily reminiscent of FBI entrapment cases in the United States.

Sally Letts identifies parallel similarities between her son’s case and Shamima Begum, pointing out that the person who facilitated Jack’s journey to Syria has gone uncharged by the police, despite ample evidence. Sally told Lowkey that the family now believes it likely that the person that facilitated Jack’s entry is an informant of the intelligence services. She laments the dehumanization of both Shamima Begum and her son Jack have been,

Demonized as monsters. They are not given human rights like other people…universal human rights seem to have been thrown out the window in all of these cases under the guise of terrorism.”

HOW COVERT BRITISH INFORMATION WARS TARGET RUSSIA, THREATENING CIVILIANS AND JOURNALISTS 

By Kit Klarenberg

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In late July, a shocking interview with a captured Azov Battalion fighter began circulating online.

In the clip, the prisoner-of-war claimed that Oleksiy Arestovych, once a key advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, had, prior to the war, ordered his Neo-Nazi regiment (among other military units) to carry out and film “brutal murders” of captured Russian soldiers in service of an “information campaign.”

The purpose of this effort, the Azov fighter claimed, was to transmit the grisly footage to Russia in order to stoke anti-war sentiment among the population, and thus protests and upheaval.

Incendiary confessions and allegations emanating from prisoners-of-war should always be treated with intense skepticism. The likelihood they will be made under significant duress, and/or result from extensive coaching, is invariably high. Nonetheless, there are sound reasons not to reflexively discount the nameless combatant’s testimony.

While you would barely know it from Western media reporting, countless Russian soldiers have been tortured and killed in the most savage ways imaginable post-capture, each and every horrifying incident representing a grave war crime. There are numerous reports of prisoners being burnt with blowtorches and/or having their eyes gouged out before execution, and even those kept alive are frequently shot in their kneecaps to cripple them for life. Accompanying clips are voluminous, and have traveled widely.

As such, questions can only abound over whether this is a matter of dedicated strategy for Kiev, rather than the isolated, vengeful actions of individual soldiers or units, particularly given numerous officials have made dire public threats about the fate that awaits Russians should they participate in the war. For example, a senior battlefield doctor told Ukrainian state media in late March he had ordered his staff to castrate captives, as they were “cockroaches”.

Arestovych has also over the years made numerous deeply concerning comments endorsing ISIS, in particular the terror group’s “cruelty for show,” which he believes to be a “wise strategy.”

“They are acting very correctly…Those methods, the world needs them, even though this means terrorism, medieval levels of cruelty, burning people alive, shooting them or cutting off their heads. This is absolutely the way of the future,” he said in one TV interview.

Even more compellingly, leaked documents reviewed by MintPress show covert plans to “achieve influence” with Russians and turn them against the war and their government have been drawn up by a shadowy British intelligence contractor, led by an individual intimately tied to a previous clandestine effort aimed at achieving the same end, using atrocity propaganda from the Syrian crisis, in which Ukraine was also central.

As we shall see, there is no reason to believe this effort will be anything but counterproductive, and in the process put the liberty if not lives of Russians at significant risk, while emboldening the Kremlin significantly, and furthering its informational objectives.

‘A STREAM OF NARRATIVE OPPORTUNITIES’

The proposals were crafted by Valent Projects, exposed by MintPress in July as running a sinister social media censorship operation on behalf of U.S. intelligence front USAID, in conjunction with Chemonics International, which its own founder has admitted was created so he could “have my own CIA.” The contractor was the primary conduit via which U.S. funds and equipment reached bogus Syrian humanitarian group the White Helmets.

Submitted to the Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine, a support mechanism created by the governments of Britain, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S., the pair pledged to “map audiences critical to the Kremlin’s efforts, and identify opportunities to impact their narratives,” in order to support Kiev’s “strategic communications efforts.”

This would provide key decision makers within the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, and the Office of the President “a stream of ‘narrative opportunities’” with which to “influence” and “engage” audiences not only in Russia, but “other key states” including India and Turkey, via news outlets and social media.

Valent pledged to not only identify potential target demographics, but “their prevailing worldviews, how they access information and what narratives are likely to influence them,” and monitor their online interactions in real-time, in particular identifying when “key audiences express potential tension with official positions,” which could be exploited by Kiev.

This data could be segmented for different government departments, if say Defense chiefs were “interested in different audiences” than their Foreign Affairs counterparts. Overall, the entire Ukrainian administration would, it was pledged, be able to “affect measurable attitudinal and behavioral change amongst key Russian audiences” with Valent’s help.

While no mention is made in the document of this setup being used to further Arestovych’s macabre purported plans, it would certainly provide an efficacious means of achieving them. What is more though, there are sinister echoes in the proposal of an operation conducted by British intelligence contractor InCoStrat during the Syrian crisis, which was led by Valent’s founder-and-chief, Amil Khan.

Dubbed “Project Aurelius”, it sought to “increase the cost to the Russian leadership of sustained or increased intervention in the Syrian conflict by sensitizing Russian public opinion to the opportunity costs of their intervention in the conflict” – in the process not only ending the country’s decisive military involvement in the West’s dirty war, but destabilizing the government by disrupting its “domestic balancing act.”

A document related to the connivance spells out a “basic mechanism to achieving” its lofty objectives. In brief, it entailed “leveraging the reality of Russia’s Syria intervention as depicted in Syrian opposition media and presenting it to key Russian audiences, including mainstream news consumers.”

InCoStrat avowedly had “a number of assets already available to build this mechanism,” including “access to opposition-made media products” producing content refuting “Russian claims”, “the ability to task Syrian opposition media activists to capture raw material,” and “international communications specialists” based in Jordan with “the ability to establish and manage the effort” – Khan being chief among them.

‘EMBEDDED WITH TERRORISTS’

Such boasts significantly underplay the staggering scale of InCoStrat’s cloak-and-dagger machinations in Damascus. The contractor played a pivotal role in London’s long-running propaganda efforts over the course of the dirty war, which sought to disrupt and displace the government of Bashar al-Assad, convince citizens and international bodies that rabid Western and Gulf-backed militant groups rampaging across the country were a credible, “moderate” alternative, and would then flood media internationally with pro-opposition agitprop.

In service of this effort, InCoStrat trained hundreds of “stringers” across the country who fed content to three separate media production offices it managed, and established 10 separate FM radio stations, as well as numerous print magazines. On top of extensive domestic consumption in both occupied and government-controlled areas of Syria, the company fed this output to a network of “over 1,600 journalists and people of influence” globally.

InCoStrat furthermore carried out various elaborate “guerrilla” operations, which it described as “[using] the media to create [an] event” and “[initiating] an event to create media effect.” One example of these activities was “[exploiting] the concentrated presence of journalists” during the Geneva II conference in January 2014 “to put pressure on the regime.”

The company produced “postcards, posters and reports” to “draw behavioral parallels” between the Assad government and ISIS and dishonestly further the fiction that “a latent relationship exists between the two.” The company alleged in Foreign Office submissions that these productions were subsequently republished by “major news outlets” including the Qatari-funded Al-Jazeera.

In another, InCoStrat smuggled materials emphasizing alleged government atrocities – such as pictures “depicting the aftermath of a barrel bomb attack or victims of torture” – into “regime-held” areas of Syria, including Damascus. The company sought to “keep regime perpetration of war crimes in the spotlight at a crucial time when media attention has shifted almost exclusively towards ISIS and some influential voices are calling for co-operation with the Syrian regime to combat ISIS.”

This work placed the company and its staff in extremely close quarters with numerous armed militias guilty of monstrous abuses, who have been credibly accused of orchestrating “false flag” events to precipitate Western intervention, including chemical weapons strikes, which may have necessitated choreographed massacres by the individuals and groups staging them.

For instance, InCoStrat bragged of having contacts with violent gangs in “some of the most impenetrable areas in the country,” such as Syria’s “eastern front,” which, at the time of writing, was dominated by ISIS. Its stringers were said to have “access to a variety of groups,” including Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, “with whom they have conducted interviews.” Amil Khan may well have been fundamental to cultivating these connections.

In one leaked file, InCoStrat is asked to provide evidence of its “proven track record of establishing and developing contacts in Arabic-speaking conflict affected states.” Khan’s alleged history of having “established relationships with, and embedded himself into terrorist organizations in the UK and the Middle East,” experience granting him “unique insight into their narratives, communication methods, recruitment processes and management of networks,” is cited as an example of the company’s prowess in this field.

‘UNDERMINE THE RUSSIAN POSITION’

To say the least, then, InCoStrat had “a number of assets available” to carry out Project Aurelius effectively.

The “only” public-facing element of the operation was a “Russian anti-Kremlin activist collective” based in Ukraine, “with access to foreign journalists and opinion influencers with media profiles,” who were able to “establish and run Russian social media pages” and infiltrate Russian opposition networks online on InCoStrat’s behalf.

Financing for the effort was markedly opaque, sent from Amman to a Syrian-run “media activist group” registered in Germany, which then dispatched regular payments to a parallel organization created in Kiev, covering its staffing and running costs, and expenses. Publicly, the money appeared to flow from a “Syrian interlocutor”, running crowdfunders and “eliciting donations from wealthy Syrians.”

The output of InCoStrat’s assorted Syrian media assets – and other opposition communications platforms – were monitored by a team led by Khan in Jordan, to “[identify] products that undermine the Russian position,” which were then compiled according to a “distribution plan that aims to maximize negative impact on Russian narratives around the intervention in Syria,” with a specific focus on “points of vulnerability.”

This material was then circulated to the Ukraine-based activists, translated, and spread across social media via private chats and social media groups. It was hoped the entire breadth of the Russian media, from opposition outlets such as Meduza and Novaya Gazeta, establishment liberal newspapers including Kommersant, and even “directly controlled pro-government media” would in turn pick up the stories, leading to wider civil society debate about the Syrian intervention, and corrosion in the government’s position at home and abroad.

It’s uncertain whether Aurelius succeeded in its goal of flooding Russian opposition channels with damaging disinformation, or how many journalists and publications recycled this targeted content believing it to be organic and grassroots in nature, but Moscow’s Syrian mission certainly doesn’t appear to have been deterred one iota.

Today, despite ongoing Israeli airstrikescrippling Western sanctions and US occupation of its oil-producing areas, the country is steadily rebuilding itself and overwhelmingly under government control, in no small part due to Russian intervention.

It seems likely the proposal of Valent and Chemonics will be similarly impotent, not least because the brutality reserved for captured Russian soldiers, as apparently advocated by Arestovych, has surely reduced to zero the opportunity for Kiev to stage timely interventions, and exploit “potential tension with official positions” with target audiences in Russia. As the nameless Azov Battalion prisoner acknowledged in their testimony, such behavior “caused negativity in world public opinion,” least of all in Russia itself.

Other callous developments, including the widespread scattering of petal mines in civilian areas across the Donbas, indiscriminate attacks on the majority Russian Crimea, and Ukrainian soldiers using the cellphones of slain Russians to call and laughingly taunt their victims’ mothers back home, have inevitably been exploited by the Kremlin to further and legitimize its narratives about Kiev being a rabid, murderous fascist regime in urgent need of “denazification” and “demilitarization”.

One might argue that as a country embroiled in a David and Goliath battle, it is not only morally necessary, but eminently sensible, for Ukraine to explore any and all possible methods of evening the playing field. Yet Project Aurelius amply underlines the significant dangers and inherently counterproductive nature of covert Western information warfare initiatives.

Several media outlets identified as fruitful targets for Aurelius product have since fallen victim to Moscow’s Draconian, debilitating “foreign agent” laws, or simply been shut down by court order. In recent years, harassment and closure of opposition NGOs and information providers in Russia has frequently been triggered by the exposure of illicit – or insufficiently clear – Western funding and sponsorship.

The onset of conflict in Ukraine means an even less safe space for dissent in Russia. Thousands have reportedly received fines or prison sentences for opposing the war, while Kommersant reporter Ivan Safronov has been jailed for 22 years on dubious charges of treason. What fate would befall a journalist who wrote up content surreptitiously broadcast to them by Kiev courtesy of Valent and Chemonics, or a private citizen who shared it?

A NOBLE LIE?

If this war is won by Ukraine, it certainly will not be via covert psyops campaigns. Yet both Kiev and its Western backers have a significant vested interest in propagandizing the public in North America and Europe. Stories true or false of victimhood, heroism and battlefield success are key to ensuring the endless flow of weaponry and financial aid to a country outgunned and outmanned by its much larger neighbor, the economy and industry of which has already been comprehensively crippled.

During the Syrian crisis, the U.S. spent potentially in excess of one trillion on regime change efforts, a core component of which was a failed $1 billion secret dirty war led by the CIA. Britain pumped at least $400 million into achieving the same goal, a figure that does not take into account black operations conducted by intelligence agencies or covert military units. The sums involved in the Ukraine conflict will likely dwarf those totals.

International aid tracker DevEx calculated in late August that in the first six months of the war, over $100 billion had been committed to Kiev by Western countries, only a tiny fraction of which was “humanitarian-focused”. Seemingly each and every month, if not more frequently, yet further billions are allocated to Kiev by Washington, meaning the country is on track to become the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance since World War II. Europe has likewise committed vast resources.

Along the way, major arms manufacturers are making a literal killing, in every sense. Despite a general downturn in stock markets the world over, the share prices of companies including BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Thales have remained strong. In a particularly brash manifestation of the Military Industrial Complex in effect, Zelensky is scheduled to deliver a headline speech at a major U.S. defense industry conference on September 21st.

There are legitimate and reasonable arguments for and against regular arms shipments to Kiev, although consideration of the latter perspective has been almost entirely absent from mainstream discourse. As such, one cannot help but wonder if the ultimate intended target audience of the kind of informational connivance plotted by Valent and Chemonics is, as with Syria, Western publics.

After all, it is their support and acquiescence that keeps the war machine ever-whirring – and the profits rising. And if enemy state citizens, journalists, and civil society activists end up as collateral damage, who cares.

‘The Palestinian View’ – with Ramzy Baroud: Will the UN Deliver Justice for Palestine? (VIDEO)

September 21, 2022

Baroud comments on the Palestinian Authority’s quest to obtain full UN membership and whether such status is merely symbolic. (Photo: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

In the latest Palestine Chronicle episode of the “Palestinian View’, Ramzy Baroud raises the question “Will the United Nations Finally Deliver Justice for Palestine?”

Baroud comments on the Palestinian Authority’s quest to obtain full UN membership and whether such status is merely symbolic. 

To understand the historical context of this issue and to offer your own opinion, make sure to watch and share the Palestine Chronicle’s latest production. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Donate NOW  Learn More  Watch Video(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)

Battle of Naalan mountain: one town’s fight against the full might of the Israeli settler project

SEPTEMBER 16, 2022 

The small town of Mazraa Qabaliya in the northern West Bank is fighting the Israeli military and armed settlers to protect a resource that is both revered and essential to their community — Naalan mountain.
JAAFAR LADADWEH, 55 AND YOUSEF ALI LOOKING AT THE SETTLEMENTS ACROSS FROM NAALAN, SEPTEMBER 2022. (PHOTO: MARIAM BARGHOUTI/MONDOWEISS)

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By Mariam Barghouti

On October 26, 2018, the small town of Mazraa Qabaliya just 11 km northwest of Ramallah witnessed a brutal assault by Israeli settlers and their military vanguard. 

As Palestinian men gathered for Friday prayers under a cluster of brown and green leadtrees, they were met with teargas from the Israeli military in tandem with an organized attack by armed Israeli settlers. Youth responded by hurling stones back at the settlers and soldiers.

“It was a bloodbath that day,” Jaafar Ladadweh, 55, recalled to Mondoweiss almost four years later on the same Naalan mountaintop where two men were fatally shot.

Two Palestinians from the village were shot — Othman Ahmad Ladadweh, 33, was hit in the thigh and died that Friday evening, while Mohammad Ibrahim Shreiteh, 28, was shot in the head, succumbing to his wounds almost two weeks later, on November 10, 2018. More than a dozen were injured with live bullets while dozens more were injured with teargas and rubber bullets.

The view from Naalan mountain overlooking Israeli settlements in the north of the West Bank. (Photo: Mariam Barghouti/Mondoweiss)
The view from Naalan mountain overlooking Israeli settlements in the north of the West Bank. (Photo: Mariam Barghouti/Mondoweiss)THE VIEW FROM NAALAN MOUNTAIN OVERLOOKING ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN THE NORTH OF THE WEST BANK. (PHOTO: MARIAM BARGHOUTI/MONDOWEISS)

Guardians of the mountain: ‘we must keep the light on’

The confrontations in Naalan would intensify in 2018. Protests were being held in tandem with the Great March of Return in Gaza, where Palestinians marched every Friday in the thousands to protest the Gaza siege and its population of 2 million people. 

Like the Israeli military response to Palestinian unarmed protest in Gaza, the youth and residents of Mazraa were met with lethal force — mostly live ammunition. 

Four years later, the sunset from the top of Naalan mountain is calm and the air is crisp, with a breeze reminiscent of Ramallah’s windy evenings. The contrast of the dying colors of orange, red, yellow, and purple blue with a darker sky and almost yellow full moon commands appreciation. 

Under September’s full harvest moon, a group of 11 men gather on plastic chairs and wooden benches they have set up over the years, to revive the mountain and maintain it.

“We all take turns making sure there is electricity extended and that the lights on this mountain are on at all times, to make sure there is a sign of life here” Ahmad Obeid, 62, says with a smile. 

Eager and passionate about sharing their story of successfully holding on to their homes, Obeid points at one of the flickering lights hanging from a treehouse they had built months ago to encourage visitors to come and help protect the mountain from settler takeover.

“We must keep the light on,” Obeid said, his tone passionate. “We must keep the light on here on the mountain at all times. Once it’s off, know that something is wrong, that there has been an attack,” he said to Mondoweiss. 

Image of two martyrs hanging in the community office on Naalan Mountain (Photo: Mariam Barghouti/Mondoweiss)
POSTER WITH THE IMAGES OF TWO MARTYRS KILLED DURING MILITARY AND SETTLER ATTACKS ON OCTOBER 26, 2018, HANGING IN THE COMMUNITY OFFICE AT THE TOP OF NAALAN MOUNTAIN. MOHAMMAD SHREITEH, 28, ON THE LEFT, AND OTHMAN LADADWEH, 33, ON THE RIGHT. (PHOTO: MARIAM BARGHOUTI/MONDOWEISS)

Abandoned by parties and actors that are supposedly responsible, including the Palestinian Authority (PA), the mountain was nurtured and developed through the power of community initiatives and youth volunteers. 

Through collective conversations, the village of Mazraa Qabaliya organized itself into committees to renovate, preserve, and document the archeological artifacts that sprawl across and inside the mountain. 

“When we pray here, you would find settlers coming to also pray,” Ali Shreiteh, 54, told Mondoweiss. Shreiteh had been documenting the historical significance and archeological richness that is hidden across the mountain top, from Roman wells to centuries-old antiques. 

Over the past four years, organized settler visits and attacks on the site in coordination with Israeli army have intensified. These visits seek to establish a presence on the land, which in turn would create a justification for the annexation and forcible takeover of Palestinian lands by judicial decree. 

Yet, these sinister practices do not occur in isolation. They are embedded in, and enforced through, broader Israeli policies denying Palestinians ability to use their resources and lands for growth and building of healthy and unified communities.

Israeli forces arrest an unarmed Palestinian during confrontations in 2018. (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)
Israeli forces arrest an unarmed Palestinian during confrontations in 2018. (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)ISRAELI FORCES ARREST AN UNARMED PALESTINIAN DURING CONFRONTATIONS IN 2018. (PHOTO: MOHAMMAD SHREITEH)

Greenlighting ethnic cleansing in Area B

Naalan mountain is located in Mazraa Qabaliya, a town known for its agricultural produce and capacity for sustainable water infrastructure. 

Mazraa Qabaliya and its Naalan mountain are also categorized as “Area B” under the Oslo Accords, which places them under the civic and administrative control of the PA and military control of Israeli army. This power vacuum, combined with the lack of foreign support, has meant that the town residents have had to take it upon themselves to counter the continuous impunity for armed Israeli aggressions and organized settler crimes.

Since the growth of settlement expansion to Areas B in 2017, added to the peak in settler violence in 2018, the townspeople have directed their efforts to ensure that Naalan mountain remains vibrant and accessible to Palestinians. This has largely only been possible through constant confrontation whereby Palestinians must face armed settlers and soldiers with either their voice, their bodies, or the hurling of stones — a crime punishable by up to 10 years under Israeli military regulations.

“They want to take this mountain by any means, even if it is fabricating a historical association with it,” Yousef Ali, 45, told Mondoweiss. 

Naalan mountain, 2018 (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)
Naalan mountain, 2018 (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)NAALAN MOUNTAIN, 2018 (PHOTO: MOHAMMAD SHREITEH)

ccording to the Oslo Accords, settlers expanding to Area B are not only in violation of international law, but also Israeli law. The clandestine manner in which Israel takes over lands has been well-documented, but with little repercussions. In 2018, former US president Barack Obama was reportedly “shocked” at the systemic nature of Israeli settlements and their fragmentation of Palestinians from one another. 

This settler expansion has been devastating to Palestinian farmers. Already economically deprived of more than 63% of the most fertile and grazing land as well as agricultural resources in Area C, farmers in Mazraa Qabaliya and the rest of Area B are restricted by Israeli veto power over building and constructing water wells and drilling into reservoirs or springs.  

The wells around the Naalan mountain top could provide the community with the resources that would allow for sustainability and income generation in the face of the economic depression plaguing Palestinian communities.  In fact, the families and communities near Naalan have renovated some old wells, but the energies of the townspeople continue to be occupied mainly with surviving and confronting Israeli efforts to takeover their lands for the purpose of expanding illegal settlements.

In this way, not only are settlements furthering Israeli theft and abuse of natural resources, but are also impeding Palestinian capacities to develop what resources they have.

Israeli settlers marching with military protection on Naalan mountain. (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)
ISRAELI SETTLERS MARCHING WITH MILITARY PROTECTION ON NAALAN MOUNTAIN. (PHOTO: SHREITEHPHOTO)

In contrast, illegal Israeli settlers are not only provided with Israeli court-ordered military force as protection, but also governmental financial support from the “Settlement Division” of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) to help link agricultural and natural resource networks with a growing physical settler infrastructure..

In June and July of this year, the WZO declared plans to invest additional $ 8.5 million USD in connecting and legitimizing illegal outposts in the West Bank, a policy pushed forward by former Prime Minister, Naftali Bennet. And not only are settlements expanding but they are even creeping towards Area B of the West Bank also in violation of the Oslo Accords.

What this adds up to is that Palestinian communities lack nearly any form of financial, legal, emotional, or logistical support in their efforts to defend their land while Israeli settlers are provided with international impunity, constant and growing economic funding, as well as protection from its military, one of the most advanced in the world. 

Call for solidarity

With what little remains, Palestinian towns and villages are constantly attempting to salvage what they have been able to hold onto in the face of a increasingly emboldened settler population, which maintains a strong hold on military power and international public opinion.

As Palestinian communities attempt to safeguard their communities from settler attacks, they are calling on supporters to join them in ensuring that Palestinian lands remain alive with Palestinian lives. “Just come be with us, build with us, bring nothing but will and joy,” Ladadweh says as the evening fades into darkness, as an LED lightbulb flickers behind him. 

In that moment, words from earlier in the evening seemed to hang in the air and resonate with the 11 men firmly planted at the top of Naalan mountain: “the light must stay on.”

Imposed Insanity – Royalty, Propaganda And The Coming Catastrophe

14th September 2022

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If every single high-profile journalist, politician and priest is currently expressing heartfelt devotion to Britain’s deceased, 96-year-old monarch, it is not because she ‘served’ her country diligently in doing her ‘duty’ for 70 years. The powerful interests that determine Britain’s political and media agenda are not sentimentalists; they do not impose ‘managed democracy’ as a kind of game. Propaganda blitzes are always pragmatic.

It could hardly be more obvious that earlier propaganda campaigns defining the Iraq war, the Libya war, the Syria war, Jeremy Corbyn, and now NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine, were shaped to serve those same interests.

It is no accident that damning claims – many of them simply fabricated – relentlessly target enemies of state from the front pages of every newspaper, from every TV and touch screen. And it is no accident that corporate editors and journalists are united now in expressing deep affection for the late Queen. When everyone clearly feels obliged to say the same thing, it means they are deferring to a key requirement of elite control.

This latest blitz should be no surprise, because wherever there is royalty, there is militarism, organised religion, bipartisan political agreement, patriotism and, of course, concentrated wealth. After all, as Peter Oborne reminded his readers, the Queen was ‘head of state; head of the Anglican Church; head of the judiciary; head of the armed forces, head of the Commonwealth; and ultimate fount of honour in the British state’.  

All of these roles rest on a series of interlinked, mutually supportive deceptions. The monarchy roots autocratic rule in esoteric ‘tradition’ which, lost in the mists of time, presents elite control as ‘the natural order of things’. Organised religion extends the same illusion to a cosmic King sanctifying His earthly representatives who thus rule by ‘divine right’. Military power, swathed in the same esoterica, protects this system in the name, not just of the monarch, but of God. Who would dare challenge the will, not just of the King, but of God Himself?

As Harold Pinter liked to say, these deceptions are almost ‘witty’ in their audacity.

The new king said of his mother:

‘She set an example of selfless duty which, with God’s help and your counsels, I am resolved faithfully to follow.’

The ideal, endlessly repeated, is not to discover Truth, Happiness and Freedom for ourselves as creative, free-thinking individuals. Rather, it is to reject our personal needs and interests – rejected as ‘narrow’ and ‘selfish’ – to focus on ‘service’, on performing a ‘duty’ pre-defined for us by the mumbo-jumbo of patriotic ‘tradition’. Tolstoy captured his moment and ours exactly:

‘All these people do what they are doing unconsciously, because they must, all their life being founded upon deceit, and because they know not how to do anything else… Moreover, being all linked together, they approve and justify one another’s acts – emperors and kings those of the soldiers, functionaries, and clergymen; and soldiers, functionaries and clergymen the acts of emperors and kings, while the populace, and especially the town populace, seeing nothing comprehensible in what is done by all these men, unwittingly ascribe to them a special, almost a supernatural, significance.’ (Leo Tolstoy, ‘Writings On Civil Disobedience and Non-Violence,’ New Society, 1987, p.109)

Thus, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said:

‘Her Majesty showed us that when we build our lives on God’s faithfulness, we are on the solid ground of eternity that cannot be shaken.’

There is indeed nothing comprehensible here. Alas, human folly is such that many of us find these comments all the more impressive for that reason – we are surely in the presence of truth so profound that it escapes our feeble understanding.

‘The Moment History Stops’

It is ironic indeed that a classic feature of the Western propaganda system involves depicting citizens of Official Enemies as having succumbed to a Cult of Personality. We, in the West, are encouraged to scoff at those poor lost souls who glorify leaders with hagiographic portraits and statues; and militarised patriotic festivals and grand commemorative events.

These countries are identified as belonging to their respective heads of state. It’s ‘Putin’s Russia’, ‘Xi Jinping’s China’, ‘Kim Jong-un’s North Korea’, ‘Gaddafi’s Libya’, ‘Saddam’s Iraq’. 

The death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September was a salient reminder that ‘our’ propaganda system is a vital cog in the British social machine that upholds elite privilege and domination over the majority of the population.

BBC News runs continuous livestreams on its channels, its website is draped in black, featuring ‘news’ stories with titles such as:

There was even a BBC News piece titled ‘Death of Queen Elizabeth II: The moment history stops’. The power of the British monarchy is such that history itself stops!

‘Royal correspondent’ Jonny Dymond gushed:

‘This is the moment history stops; for a minute, an hour, for a day or a week; this is the moment history stops.

‘Across a life and reign, two moments from two very different eras illuminate the thread that bound the many decades together. At each a chair, a desk, a microphone, a speech. In each, that high-pitched voice, those clipped precise vowels, that slight hesitation about public speaking that would never quite seem to leave her.’

The BBC purple prose continued:

‘One moment is sun-dappled, though the British people were suffering through a terrible post-war winter. A young woman, barely more than a girl really, sits straight-backed, her dark hair pulled up, two strings of pearls around her neck. Her youthful skin is flawless, she is very beautiful. A life opens out ahead of her.’

Newspapers ran full, front-page portraits with forelock-tugging headlines:

  • ‘A life in service’ (The Times)
  • ‘Our hearts are broken’ (Daily Mail)
  • ‘Grief is the price we pay for love’ (Daily Telegraph)
  • ‘Thank you’ (Daily Mirror’)
  • ‘Our beloved Queen is dead’ (Daily Express)
  • ‘We loved you Ma’am’ (The Sun)

The Sun’s headline adorned one of the most brutal, cynical, loveless, soulless gutter tabloids on the market. Does The Sun have any idea what the word ‘love’ means?

As for the Telegraph’s declaration, ‘Grief is the price we pay for love’; this is a paper that reflexively supports every blood-drenched Western war going, that waged merciless propaganda war on Corbyn, incinerated Assange, and mocked the climate crisis threatening all humanity for decades. But their hearts are full of love for the icon of unlimited wealth.

Anyone still harbouring illusions that the Guardian might offer a modicum of republican scepticism would have been disabused by the acres of royal-friendly coverage on display. The day after her death, the print edition of the paper led with fully 19 pages on the Queen plus a 20-page supplement. By painful contrast, a news piece titled, ‘World on brink of five “disastrous” climate tipping points – study’, was buried on page 25. The following day, the Guardian published a 40-page special supplement on the Queen. That paired example captures exactly the imposed insanity of the ‘mainstream’ media that are leading us to disaster.

High-profile Guardian columnist, Gaby Hinsliff, wrote a piece packed with references to ‘grandmotherly manner’, ‘female power’, ‘rare trick for a woman’, ‘a woman in charge’, ‘“ultimate feminist”’, ‘a legacy for women’, ‘ultimate matriarch’, ‘Matriarchal power’, and so on.

We tweeted in response:

‘Ok, ok, gender matters! But so does medieval authoritarianism, militant patriotism and 0.1% control.’

As we noted, Hinsliff’s dismal piece garnered 12 retweets and 71 likes in the first 16 hours. Six days since publication, the tally stands at just 14 retweets and 72 likes.

As for the Labour party, any hint of republican sentiment has long been well and truly expunged from statements issuing from its corporate HQ. Sir Keir Starmer, Knight Commander of the Order of Bath and the Leader of the ‘Opposition’, declared:

‘For seventy years, Queen Elizabeth II stood as the head of our country. But in spirit, she stood amongst us.’

Party managers have clearly been working hard on Keir’s ‘compassionate’ facial expression, but his delivery is still devoid of genuine human feeling. He continued in his now trademark robotic delivery:

‘Queen Elizabeth II created a special, personal relationship with us all. A relationship based on service and devotion to her country.’

This is the standard narrative being rammed down the throats of the British, indeed global, audience.

Starmer added:

‘And as the world changed around her, this dedication became the still point of our turning world.’

Our world revolved around the Queen? Really?

In glaring contrast to the obsequious royalist coverage elsewhere, the Morning Star’s front page ran with:

‘Truss’s energy boon – for the fuel fat cats’

So, in case anyone ever wondered to what extent we are living in a deeply propagandised society, the front pages of the ‘free press’ provided a clear answer. Ash Sarkar of Novaramedia noted:

‘The fact that every single newspaper and broadcaster in the country is united in waving though the accession of an unelected head of state makes the “no one tells us what to write” stuff all the more embarrassing.’

The Unquestioned Institution Of The Monarchy

Former diplomat Craig Murray also highlighted the absurdity of the notion of media ‘impartiality’ when press and broadcasting are so blatantly pro-monarchy:

‘Think seriously on this. 29% of the population want to abolish the monarchy. Think of all the BBC coverage of the monarchy you have seen over the last decade. What percentage do you estimate reflected or gave an airing to republican views? Less than 1%?’

He continued:

‘Now think of media coverage across all the broadcast and print media.

‘How often has the media reflected the republican viewpoint of a third of the population? Far, far less than a third of the time. Closer to 0% than 1%. Yes, there are bits of the media that dislike Meghan for being black or are willing to go after Andrew. But the institution of the monarchy itself?’

Murray concluded:

‘There can be no clearer example than the monarchy of the unrelenting media propaganda by which the Establishment maintains its grip.

 ‘The corporate and state media are unanimous in slavish support of monarchy. Thailand has vicious laws protecting its monarchy. We don’t need them; we have the ownership of state and corporate media enforcing the same.’

In 2015, author Irvine Welsh observed that:

‘The UK is now a pointless entity, existing solely to protect entrenched privilege and continue the transference of the country’s resources to a global elite.’

The Queen sat atop this unjust system of extreme inequality, just as her eldest son, King Charles, does now. She was the figurehead of an unhealthy and divided British society, corrupted by hereditary wealth, degraded by the racist and exploitative legacy of Empire, and scarred by a highly-stratified class structure in which most people are struggling to obtain a decent standard of living. 

Journalist and political analyst Jonathan Cook encouraged the public to scrutinise the media’s subservient behaviour:

‘Please take this moment to study, really study, the journalists working for the BBC, ITV and Ch4. Do they seem like fearless, independent, objective observers of the world, or more like fawning courtiers? This is the moment when the mask slips. Drink it in deeply…’

Australian political analyst Caitlin Johnstone observed:

‘British media are even more servile and sycophantic than American or Australian media, which is truly an impressive feat.’

And, indeed, live coverage in particular was, at times, hugely revealing of the mindset and priorities of these ‘fearless’ journalists. Shortly before the Queen’s death, BBC News presenter Clive Myrie declared that the crisis in rising energy costs ‘is, of course, insignificant now’ given ‘the gravity of the situation’ regarding the Queen’s health. Even Myrie’s colleague, Damian Grammaticus, reporting live from Buckingham Palace, felt compelled to respond:

‘Well, certainly overshadowed, Clive’.

Anna Soubry, former Tory minister, revealed a similarly bizarre mindset as Myrie when she tweeted:

‘Everything pales into insignificance as our thoughts and best wishes are with Her Majesty the Queen and her family.’

Everything? Climate breakdown? Rising energy and food bills? Poverty? War?

This is a form of fanaticism that would be ridiculed in the West if it had come from a former member of government in Russia, China or North Korea.

The Forgotten History Under The Royal ‘Legacy’

There have been reams of cringing rhetoric about the Queen’s ‘legacy’ after seven decades of reigning the UK and the Commonwealth. The deeply-scrubbed and sanitised version of history was highly revealing. BBC News Africa tweeted a clip lasting 4 minutes, 35 seconds, taking ‘a look back at Queen Elizabeth II’s longstanding relationship with Africa.’ It was imbued with patriotic sentiment throughout:

‘Queen Elizabeth visited more than 20 countries in Africa. She developed a close relationship with the continent during her reign.’

As a South Africa-based Twitter user pointed out, the BBC was essentially:

‘rebranding colonialism as long-standing relationship.’

Another Twitter user compiled an incomplete list of the UK’s crimes around the world under Elizabeth II’s reign. These included Kenya:

‘In 1952 Churchill argued Kenya’s fertile highlands should only be for white people and approved the forcible removal of the local population. Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans were forced into camps.’ 

Yemen:

‘Britain carried out a covert war in Yemen which led to 200,000 deaths between 1962-70 and killed with impunity in Aden.

‘Today Britain arms advises and oversees Saudi Arabia bombing Yemen.’

British Guiana:

‘In 1953, Britain under Churchill ordered the overthrowing of the democratically elected leader of “British Guiana”. He dispatched troops and warships and suspended their constitution, all to put a stop to the [British Guianan] government’s nationalisation plan.’

Iran:

‘On 19th August 1953, Britain leads a coup d’etat that overthrows democracy in Iran known as Operation Ajax which overthrows democratically-elected PM Mossadegh. Coded messages were put on the BBC to let the Shah know democracy was overthrown.’

Northern Ireland:

‘On 30th Jan 1972, the Bloody Sunday massacre was perpetrated by the parachute regiment of the British Army who killed 14 civilians at a peaceful protest march. Following the massacre the British lied about the victims.’

Iraq:

‘Britain under Blair invaded Iraq and killed over 1 million people, displaced millions more, brought unknowable depths of suffering to the Iraqi people & gave birth to ISIS.’

Afghanistan:

‘Pictured here is Prince Harry, Elizabeth’s grandson who boasted he killed in Afghanistan. He flew Apache helicopters and coordinated jets to drop 500lb bombs on people he called “Terry Taliban”.’

Libya:

‘Pictured here is what Libya was transformed into after 6 months of NATO bombing which assisted thousands of terrorists backed by Britain. The British gov played an integral role in ensuring the most developed country in Africa as per the UN’s Human Development Index was crushed.’

In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland opined that the Queen ‘made scrupulous neutrality appear easy’ with ‘vanishingly few intrusions by the monarch into politics’. John Pilger made a nonsense of these claims:

‘The dark power of royalty. In 1971, the Chagos Islanders were expelled by the British to make way for a US base. This was made possible by a meeting of the Queen’s Privy Councillors (advisers) and approved in person by the Queen. Using the same power, Blair invaded Iraq in 2003.’

In 2014, Freedland’s own newspaper reported:

‘The day after Prince Charles donned traditional robes and joined Saudi princes in a sword dance in Riyadh, Britain’s biggest arms company announced that agreement had finally been reached on the sale of 72 Typhoon fighters sold to the Gulf kingdom.’

The Guardian cited Andrew Smith, spokesman for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade:

‘It is clear that Prince Charles has been used by the UK government and BAE Systems as an arms dealer.’

According to the Guardian, Prince Andrew has performed a similar role.

You will be hard pushed to find ‘mainstream’ mentions of the above egregious examples of British history under Elizabeth II’s ‘reign’ (belated rare exceptions can be found here and here). Instead, there is a saturation level of elegies across the supposed ‘spectrum’ of national news media about how she and the royal family have provided ‘stability’, ‘held this country together – held countries together’ (Nick Robinson, BBC Radio 4 Today, 9 September 2022), ‘the rock on which modern Britain was built’ (Prime Minister Liz Truss), ‘unwavering dedication and devotion’, and so on.

Mark Easton, BBC News Home Editor, even referred to the Queen as the nation’s ‘comforter-in-chief’ whose ‘calming presence’ was often required during ‘bewildering days’. As though citing Tolkien, Easton added:

‘The new king and new prime minister, both only days into their roles, must find a way to guide an unsettled kingdom through troubling times.’

At times, media reporting descended into preposterous rhapsodising about Mother Nature mourning the death of the Queen. The Daily Mail actually published photographs of clouds in the sky under the headline:

‘Astonishing moment a cloud resembling Queen Elizabeth floats over English town just hours after she died’

One tweeter japed, posting a picture of a fuzzy oblong cloud, saying:

‘Just saw a cloud that looked like a document advocating for a republic’

Other reports waxed lyrical about a double rainbow over Buckingham Palace ‘as crowds gather to mourn Queen’. Respectfully dressed in black, Russell Brand, author of a book titled, ‘Revolution’, said the rainbows had ‘curiously’ appeared. The Daily Mirror’s chief reporter deemed the rainbow story worthy of a tweet.

Imagine how journalists would respond to such supernatural mawkishness about the heads of state in North Korea, Russia, China, Iran, Syria or Venezuela. There would, of course, be a tsunami of Western scorn.

The extremist combination of idolatry and ideology pervades the ‘mainstream’, with dissent or even open discussion, seemingly banned. We are all supposed to wallow in grief or, at the very least refrain from saying anything that might be considered ‘unseemly’.

As Cook wrote:

‘The demand for silence is not a politically neutral act. It is a demand that we collude in a corrupt system of establishment rule and hierarchical privilege.

‘The establishment has a vested interest in enforcing silence and obedience until the public’s attention has moved on to other matters. Anyone who complies leaves the terrain open over the coming weeks for the establishment to reinforce and deepen the public’s deference to elite privilege.’

One non-violent protestor, Symon Hill, reported:

‘It was only when they declared Charles to be “King Charles III” that I called out “Who elected him?” I doubt most of the people in the crowd even heard me. Two or three people near me told me to shut up. I didn’t insult them or attack them personally, but responded by saying that a head of state was being imposed on us without our consent.’

Police then took hold of him:

‘I was outraged that they were leading me away, but was taken aback when they told me they were arresting me.’

Hill was driven home in a police van:

‘Eventually, on the way home, I was told that I had been arrested under the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act 2022 (the outrageous act passed earlier this year) for actions likely to lead to “harassment or distress”.’

Climate scientist Bill McGuire provided some vital perspective:

‘The second Elizabethan age was one of rampant, free market capitalism and the raping of our planet. The ages that follow will see us, our children, and those who follow, reaping the whirlwind of catastrophic climate collapse.’

He linked to a disturbing news report – the report relegated to page 25 in the Guardian, mentioned above – about a scientific study showing the world is on the brink of five ‘disastrous’ climate tipping points:

‘Giant ice sheets, ocean currents and permafrost regions may already have passed point of irreversible change.’

One of the study’s researchers, Professor Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, warned that the Earth is:

‘on course to cross multiple dangerous tipping points that will be disastrous for people across the world. To maintain liveable conditions on Earth and enable stable societies, we must do everything possible to prevent crossing tipping points.’

In a recent article, John Pilger described how he once met Leni Riefenstahl, one of Hitler’s leading propagandists ‘whose epic films glorified the Nazis’. Pilger wrote:

‘She told me that the “patriotic messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” of the German public.

‘Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? I asked.  “Yes, especially them,” she said. 

‘I think of this as I look around at the propaganda now consuming Western societies.’

You only have to observe the deranged level of royalist propaganda, and the serious dearth of rational analysis of today’s societal crises, to see this for yourself. 

REVEALED: HOW THE US AND UK STOPPED PEACE DEAL IN UKRAINE

SEPTEMBER 14TH, 2022

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By Lee Camp

new report shows that Russia and Ukraine had negotiated a peace deal back in April, but the U.S. and U.K. intervened to stop it. So Russia and Ukraine wanted to end the war four months ago. They were going to end the horror and death traumatizing the Ukrainian people but NATO refused because they wanted their proxy war to continue.

Let’s take a step back and think about this.

Let’s forget the fact that the U.S. and NATO helped create the war in Ukraine by breaking their promise to Russia not to expand NATO.

Let’s forget that the U.S. perpetrated the 2014 coup in Ukraine.

Let’s forget the fact that many top US officials, including former CIA head Leon Panetta, have admitted that this is a proxy war between the U.S., NATO, and Russia.

Let’s forget the fact that Biden and Congress have sent tens of billions of dollars of weapons and aid to an army that is at least partially Nazis who don’t do a very good job of hiding that they’re Nazis.

And let’s forget the fact that even U.S. propaganda mouthpieces CBS and CNN have admitted that only about 30% of the billions of dollars of weapons have made it to the frontlines in Ukraine. The rest has been stolen and sold on the black market to terrorists and people who like using grenade launchers as coasters.

Let’s forget the fact that the U.S. government has admitted that they’re lying about what’s going on in Ukraine because they say it’s justified when in an information war.

Let’s forget the fact that a U.S.-funded committee in the Ukrainian government has called anyone reporting the truth about the war an “information terrorist” who should be prosecuted for war crimes. This includes U.S. Congressman Rand Paul and Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters.

Let’s forget th

e fact that the sanctions against Russia have backfired and are destroying the lives of average Americans.

Let’s forget that documents have already revealed that the U.S. and the West have been planning to plunder Ukraine for years.

Let’s forget all of that – and that’s a lot of forgetting. That’s Joe Biden on his worst day.

Even with all of that forgetting. Even if you’re still just waving your Ukrainian flag and refusing to hear any of those facts that I’ve just listed, would it matter to you that a new report shows the U.S. and its allies actually tore up a peace deal, stopping it from going forward, way back in April?

That’s right. Way back in April, Russia and Ukraine had tentatively agreed to a peace deal. A deal that could’ve ended all this senseless killing.

David DeCamp reports, “Russian and Ukrainian officials tentatively agreed on a potential peace deal during negotiations back in April 2022, according to a Foreign Affairs article. … The terms of that settlement would have been for Russia to withdraw to the positions it held before launching the invasion on February 24. In exchange, Ukraine would ‘promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.’”

That sounds incredible. It sounds like it could’ve ended an immense amount of suffering.

‘Avenging Sabra and Shatila’: On Israeli Massacres and Palestinian Resistance

September 14, 2022

On September 16, in 1982, several thousand Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon were brutally massacred. (Photo: File)

By Ramzy Baroud

September 16 marks the 40th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, the killing of around 3,000 Palestinians at the hands of Lebanon’s Phalangist militias operating under the command of the Israeli army.

Four decades have passed, yet no measure of justice has been received by the survivors of the massacre. Many of them have died, and others are aging while they carry the scars of physical and psychological wounds, in the hope that, perhaps, within their lifetime they will see their executioners behind bars.

However, many of the Israeli and Phalange commanders who had ordered the invasion of Lebanon, orchestrated or carried out the heinous massacres in the two Palestinian refugee camps in 1982, have already died. Ariel Sharon, who was implicated by the official Israeli Kahan Commission a year later for his “indirect responsibility” for the grisly mass killing and rape, later rose in rank to become, in 2001, Israel’s Prime Minister.

Even prior to the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Sharon’s name was always affiliated with mass murders and large-scale destruction. It was in the so-called ‘Operation Shoshana’, in the Palestinian West Bank village of Qibya in 1953, that Sharon earned his infamous reputation. Following the Israeli occupation of Gaza in 1967, the Israeli general became known as ‘The Bulldozer’, and following Sabra and Shatila, ‘The Butcher’.

The Israeli Prime Minister at the time, Menachim Begin, also died, exhibiting no remorse for the killing of over 17,000 Lebanese, Palestinians and Syrians in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. His nonchalant response to the killings in the West Beirut refugee camps epitomizes Israel’s attitude toward all the mass killings and all the massacres carried out against Palestinians in the last 75 years. “Goyim kill Goyim, and they blame the Jews,” he said.

Testimonies from those who arrived at the refugee camps after the days of slaughter depict a reality that requires deep reflection, not only among Palestinians, Arabs and especially Israelis, but also humanity as a whole.

The late American journalist Janet Lee Stevens described what she had witnessed:

“I saw dead women in their houses with their skirts up to their waists and their legs spread apart; dozens of young men shot after being lined up against an alley wall; children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles.”

Dr. Swee Chai Ang had just arrived in Lebanon as a volunteer surgeon, stationed at the Red Crescent Society in the Gaza Hospital in Sabra and Shatila. Her book, ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem: A Woman Surgeon with the Palestinians’, remains one of the most critical readings on the subject.

In a recent article, Dr. Swee wrote that following the release of photographs of the “heaps of dead bodies in the camp alleys”, a worldwide outrage followed, but it was all short-lived: “The victims’ families and survivors were soon left alone to plod on with their lives and to relive the memory of that double tragedy of the massacre, and the preceding ten weeks of intensive land, air and sea bombardment and blockade of Beirut during the invasion.”

Lebanese and Palestinian losses in the Israeli war are devastating in terms of numbers. However, the war also changed Lebanon forever and, following the forced exile of thousands of Palestinian men along with the entire PLO leadership, Palestinian communities in Lebanon were left politically vulnerable, socially disadvantaged and economically isolated.

The story of Sabra and Shatila was not simply a dark chapter of a bygone era, but an ongoing moral crisis that continues to define Israel’s relationship with Palestinians, highlight the demographic and political trap in which numerous Palestinian communities in the Middle East live, and accentuate the hypocrisy of the West-dominated international community. The latter seems to only care for some kind of victims, and not others.

In the case of Palestinians, the victims are often depicted by western governments and media as the aggressors. Even during that horrific Israeli war on Lebanon 40 years ago, some western leaders repeated the tired mantra: “Israel has the right to defend itself.” It is this unwavering support of Israel that has made the Israeli occupation, apartheid and siege of the West Bank and Gaza politically possible and financially sustainable – in fact, profitable.

Would Israel have been able to invade and massacre at will if it were not for US-western military, financial and political backing? The answer is an affirmative ‘no.’ Those who are in doubt of such a conclusion need only to consider the attempt, in 2002, by the survivors of the Lebanon refugee camps massacre to hold Ariel Sharon accountable. They took their case to Belgium, taking advantage of a Belgian law which allowed for the prosecution of alleged international war criminals. After much haggling, delays and intense pressure from the US government, the Belgian court eventually dropped the case altogether. Ultimately, Brussels changed its own laws to ensure such diplomatic crises with Washington and Tel Aviv are not to be repeated.

For Palestinians, however, the case will never be dropped. In her essay, “Avenging Sabra and Shatila”, Kifah Sobhi Afifi’ described the joint Phalangist-Israeli attack on her refugee camp when she was only 12 years old.

“So we ran, trying to stay as close to the walls of the camp as possible,” she wrote. “That is when I saw the piles of the dead bodies all around. Children, women and men, mutilated or groaning in pain as they were dying. Bullets were flying everywhere. People were falling all around me. I saw a father using his body to protect his children but they were all shot and killed anyway.”

Kifah has lost several members of her family. Years later, she joined a Palestinian resistance group and, following a raid at the Lebanon-Israel border, was arrested and tortured in Israel.

Though Israeli massacres are meant to bring an end to Palestinian Resistance, unwittingly, they fuel it. While Israel continues to act with impunity, Palestinians also continue to resist. This is not just the lesson of Sabra and Shatila, but the bigger lesson of the Israeli occupation of Palestine as well.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Time to end Apartheid Israel’s genocidal oppression of Gaza

 SEPTEMBER 11, 2022 

PROTESTOR HOLDS SIGNS SUPPORTING BDS, THE MOVEMENT FOR BOYCOTTS, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL, AT ‘TEL AVIV SUR SEINE’ IN PARIS, AUGUST 13, 2015. (PHOTO: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

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By Haider Eid

“If only it (Gaza) would just sink into the sea
– Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, 1992

In 2008 Gaza was bombed by Israeli Apache helicopters and American-made F16 fighter planes for 22 days, ultimately causing the deaths of more than 1,400 civilians. Israel, with the impunity it has enjoyed since its establishment, decided to come back into Gaza four times since then and repeat the same crimes by launching areal strikes, killing more than 4000 civilians, including hundreds of children, women, elderly, and injuring thousands. In fact, over the past 15 months alone, apartheid Israel has carried out two extensive military assaults on Gaza, killing hundreds, including more than 80 children, and injuring thousands, destroying vital infrastructure, while maintaining its 15-year illegal siege on the 2.4 million Palestinians here.

Israel’s airstrikes which always damage essential infrastructure and terrify the civilian population are a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people and are war crimes which are forbidden under international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prescribes the manner in which armies must treat civilians during times of conflict. 

But Israel continues to get away with these war crimes and crimes against humanity. The “international community” does not seem seriously interested in the suffering of the native Palestinians. Neither does it even try to show concrete sympathy with those children who get killed in broad day light. After all, they are not Ukrainians, i.e., white.  In fact, while the American president apparently thinks that while “Israel has the right to defend itself,” the same right does not apply to Palestinians. This is in spite of the multi-tiered oppression of Palestinians by Israel, from apartheid to military occupation and colonization, and in spite of the deadly, hermetic siege imposed on Gaza for more than 15 years, so much so that Israel has even been using ‘calorie count’ to limit Gaza food during the blockade. 

This, however, has been Israel’s policy for a long time. In 1992, the late Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin wished that Gaza “would just sink into the sea.” The Oslo Accords, signed by Rabin, brought more misery into the lives of the 2 million inhabitants of this besieged, impoverished, occupied, small strip of land. The fact that Gazans are not born to Jewish mothers is enough reason to deprive them of their right to live equally with the citizens of the state of Israel. Hence, the Israeli logic goes, like the Black natives of South Africa, they should be isolated in a Bantustan, in accordance with the Oslo terms, without calling it so; and if they show any resistance to this plan, they must get punished severely by transforming the entire strip into an “open-air prison.” 

Both the US and the European Union display ignorance in the face of the brutal reality caused by Israel to GazaAs a result of Israel’s blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish Gazans, about 70% of Gaza’s workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according to the United Nations, and about 80% of its residents live in grinding poverty. About 1.2 million of them are now dependent for their day-to-day survival on food handouts from U.N. or international agencies; an increasing number of Palestinian families in Gaza are unable to offer their children more than one meager meal a day, often little more than rice and boiled lentils. Fresh fruit and vegetables are beyond the reach of many families. Meat and chicken are impossibly expensive. And fish is unavailable in its markets because the Israeli navy has curtailed the movements of Gaza ‘s fishermen. No wonder, a report by the UN predicted that by 2020, Gaza would become “unlivable.” 

We are left with one option: people’s power. This remains the only power capable of counteracting the massive power imbalance between the oppressed Palestinians and their Israeli oppressors.

The UN, EU and the international community by and large have remained silent in the face of atrocities committed by Apartheid Israel. The corpses of hundreds of dead children and women have failed to convince them to act. We are, therefore, left with one option; an option that does not wait for the United Nations Security Council, namely, the option of people’s power. This remains the only power capable of counteracting the massive power imbalance between the oppressed Palestinians and their Israeli oppressors.

The horror of the racist apartheid regime in South Africa was challenged with a sustained campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions initiated in 1958 and given new urgency in 1976 Soweto Uprising. This campaign ultimately contributed to the collapse of white rule in 1994 and the establishment of a multi-racial, democratic state.

Similarly, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions has been gathering momentum since 2005. Gaza, like Soweto and Sharpeville, cannot be ignored: it demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity. Now is the time to boycott the apartheid Israeli state, to divest and to impose sanctions against it until it complies with international law. Like black South Africans, Palestinians deserve freedom, justice and equality.  Time to end Apartheid Israel’s genocidal oppression of Gaza

HEBRON, PALESTINE: AN ANCIENT GEM RUINED BY APARTHEID AND OCCUPIED BY SETTLERS

SEPTEMBER 9TH, 2022

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By Miko Peled

Far too often we focus on the problems that plague Palestine because of the Zionist occupation. However, from time to time it is important to remember the rich heritage and unique resources that exist in Palestine: its beauty, history, architecture, and how the Palestinian people have faithfully and lovingly maintained the historical heritage of this unique land.

HEBRON

A city that is far too often in the news for the violence and racism that Zionist settlers and the Israeli army constantly force upon this town, it is in fact an ancient gem. It contains within it one of the finest Jewels in the crown of Palestine. I was fortunate enough to see the beauty of this ancient city with a friend who is a son of this city and who loves and knows the city as one who loves and knows his home.

When driving into Hebron from Jerusalem I like to enter through what is the main city entrance off of route 35. This gets me right into the heart of what is known to be one of the largest, busiest, and economically wealthiest Palestinian cities. There are very few places that stand out for their beauty in this otherwise dusty bustling city. It consists of streets upon streets of dusty roads filled with cars and shops. But this is the main city, the modern Hebron.

It takes me about ten kilometers before I reach the spot where I park my car and walk into the Old City, where I climb onto one of the most magical spots in Palestine, Tel-Rumeida. It is a small hill with Roman ruins and olive trees whose trunks tell you that they are as old as time.

Ancient olive trees on Tel-Rumeida
Ancient olive trees on Tel-Rumeida. Credit | Miko Peled

From Tel-Rumeida one can enjoy the remarkable view of the entire old city of Hebron, or as it is known in Arabic, Alkhalil.

The moon over the old city of Hebron, view from Tel-Rumeida
The moon over the old city of Hebron, view from Tel-Rumeida. Credit | Miko Peled

The filth and destruction caused to the old city by Israeli settlers and soldiers are evident almost everywhere. This is true to the point where Palestinians had to erect special protective covers to the city’s market for fear of having rocks, cinder blocks, and filth thrown at them by Israeli settlers who have taken over many of the apartments above the market. However, we will ignore these cancerous cells who try to kill the city and its life in this article and focus on what was created by centuries of Palestinians that is now protected by the ones who still live in the city.

HIDDEN ALLEYWAYS

Walking into the Souk, or market, we slowly approach the old city. We walk through winding alleyways with arches, hidden as though trying to protect themselves from the settler-induced destruction that is taking over the city like a cancer. People are living in homes built by the Mamluks, who ruled Palestine from the end of the thirteenth century to the beginning of the sixteenth century, or the Ottomans, who governed Palestine from the sixteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. Children are seen running and playing through these allies which were paved in stones that were set there centuries ago.

Here and there, one will find a cafe or restaurant, or a specialty shop. We whisked quickly through these alleyways when I noticed a bright light from a small open door. We entered to find a cave, with what looked like the treasure in the cave of Aladdin. It was one of the more famous glassware workshops in the city. Hebron is renowned for glassware and this shop/workshop was the finest in the city. How we came across it seems like a mystery now but it was truly magical.

This was The Land of Canaan glass factory, a well-known and respected institution in the old city of Hebron, maintaining one of the old traditions of the city. Glass blown into vases and cups and whatnot, with the typical Hebronite blues and teals. All hand made and some delicately hand painted with lovely intricate designs.

Hebron vase
Credit | Miko Peled

THE MOSQUE

The most impressive and imposing structure in Hebron, and what gives it its religious significance is the Ibrahimi Mosque. Said to be built over the cave, which according to religious tradition, was built by the patriarch Prophet Abraham, or Ibrahim, who purchased it as a burial site for him and his family. The site has been used as a place of worship for Jews, Christians, and Muslims for several millennia. The imposing walls are said to have been built by King Herod, the arches and windows by consecutive Muslim builders and architects.

Steps leading into the Ibrahimi mosque, Hebron
Steps leading into the Ibrahimi mosque, Hebron. Credit | Miko Peled

The intricately designed rostrum, or manbar in Arabic, is the oldest and one of the most beautiful in the Islamic world. It was placed there by order of Salahaddin in the twelfth century and is still used today for sermons.

The Saladdin Rostrum in Hebron
The Saladdin Rostrum in Hebron. Credit | Miko Peled

A stone plaque with an inscription in Greek is still set in the wall of the mosque. It is said to have been inscribed by Helena mother of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, at the time that the site served as a church.

Greek inscription
Greek inscription by Helen mother of the emperor Constantine. Credit | Miko Peled

Until 1948, the site was used for mixed worship. Jews and Muslims worshiped side by side at the times of their services. After the Zionist occupation of Palestine, it was decided that the city of Hebron along with an area of Palestine that was designated as “The West Bank,” would be governed by the newly created Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Following the 1967 Six-Day war, Israel occupied the West Bank and Jews again began to visit the site. A portion of the mosque was slated to be designated for Jewish worship, but until 1994, Muslims and Jews worshipped there together. Because the Jewish settlers who came to Hebron after 1967 were not the Jewish residents who lived there prior to the Zionist occupation of Palestine, tensions were high.

These Israeli settlers are a new brand of colonial Jews, so to speak –  violent, racist armed, and hate-filled. They wanted the Muslims to have no part in what they considered a Jewish site. Eventually, on February 25, 1994, during the month of Ramadan, a Jewish settler, who was an officer and a doctor in the Israeli army came to the mosque and sprayed the worshippers with his semi-automatic rifle. He murdered 29 worshippers and injured over 150 before being overpowered and killed.

At that point, the Jewish settlers got what they wanted and a large part of the mosque was separated for Jewish-only worship. Severe restrictions were placed on Muslims but the settlers along with soldiers enter the mosque whenever they wish, not bothering even to remove their shoes as is customary to do when one enters a mosque.

POLITICAL CHANGE, NOT CHARITY

Palestine is a rich country. As is exemplified in the city of Hebron, Palestine which is endowed with resources and a heritage that is equal to none. Contrary to the way the West likes to view Palestine, it is not a country that needs charity but demands political change. Palestinians are neither beggars nor terrorists but a people who are fighting for what is theirs – the right to live free and independent in their homeland: Palestine.

Israel demands full impunity for killing Shireen Abu Akleh – and the Biden administration agrees

 SEPTEMBER 10, 2022 

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER YAIR LAPID (RIGHT), US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, AND ISRAELI MINISTER OF DEFENSE BENNY GANTZ AT THE CEREMONY WELCOMING BIDEN TO ISRAEL ON JULY 13, 2022. (PHOTO: KOBI GIDEON/ISRAEL GOVERNMENT PRESS OFFICE)

By Mitchell Plitnick

Source

Despite the best efforts of the Israeli and American governments, the spirit of Shireen Abu Akleh simply won’t go away. 

Shireen’s family won’t let her memory fade into the background in Washington or Tel Aviv as the memories of so many thousands of Palestinians have in the past. Neither will the broader Palestinian and Palestine-advocacy communities. But perhaps the most crucial group that is keeping Shireen’s spirit hovering over the politics of Israel’s policies, especially in Washington, are her fellow journalists

Israel’s “report” on Shireen’s murder, as expected, admitted that one of its soldiers was responsible for her death, but duplicitously said that it was the result of an errant bullet during an exchange of fire with Palestinian “terrorists.” 

That this is nonsense has been clearly established. The exchange of fire at the time of Shireen’s killing was blocks away. The Israeli military unit involved in the murder was the elite Duvdevan unit, a highly-trained bunch who do not fire wildly, but at targets, generally Palestinian people. The bullet which killed Shireen penetrated a small opening between her helmet and bullet-proof vest, with word “PRESS” clearly written in both the front and back. All of this is substantial proof of, at the very least, an intentional killing. 

But in the wake of the report being published, we saw a very clear, and very disturbing, demonstration of where the Israeli government under Yair Lapid and the U.S. administration of Joe Biden stand, not only the issue of Shireen’s murder but of the entire relationship between Israel and its benefactor and protector in Washington. 

Israel had long since made it clear that it would not prosecute the soldier who murdered Shireen Abu Akleh. In response, the State Department and Secretary of State Antony Blinken modified their very humble request, reducing it to a simple review of Israel’s rules of engagement when their soldiers entered a Palestinian area under their iron-fisted occupation. 

But even this was too much to ask in Israel’s eyes. “I will not allow an IDF soldier that was protecting himself from terrorist fire to be prosecuted just to receive applause from abroad,” Lapid stated. “No one will dictate our rules of engagement to us, when we are the ones fighting for our lives. Our soldiers have the full backing of the government of Israel and the people of Israel.”

Lapid’s message had two intended audiences. The first was the Israeli public, which eagerly gobbles up any example of an Israeli leader defying what they see as the United States ordering them about. Most Israelis would draw the line at any action that might jeopardize the absolute and lock-step U.S. financial, military, and diplomatic support. But, to date, reactions from the Biden administration indicate Israel has not even approached such a line.

This is evidenced by the reaction of Lapid’s second audience, which is the Biden administration itself. State Department Spokesman Ned Price’s initial reaction to Israel’s initial report—an obvious whitewash that Israel, in its hubris, made no effort to disguise—made it clear that the U.S. was unwilling to press Israel about Shireen, but needed also to appease some in the Democratic Party who were unwilling to simply forget about her. 

“We welcome Israel’s review of this tragic incident, and again underscore the importance of accountability in this case, such as policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future,” Price said. And when Israel made it clear they would not do this, Price’s understudy, Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel, repeated an embarrassing mantra: “To reiterate, we continue to underscore the importance of accountability in this case, and we’re going to continue to impress our Israeli partners to closely review its policies and practices on the rules of engagement, and consider additional steps that will mitigate risk in this circumstance.”

One could almost feel sorry for Patel, being hung out to dry in front of experienced foreign policy reporters with nothing but this tissue-thin line to offer. Under a series of questions from journalists, he could do nothing but continue to repeat himself, despite the fact that what he was describing was not only the opposite of accountability, but was the United States government once again choosing to shirk its responsibility to protect its citizens from a foreign government that has killed them with impunity. 

That was what Patel had to defend. Shireen Abu Akleh was only the latest American citizen to be killed by Israel. Nearly twenty years ago, it was activist Rachel Corrie, crushed under a U.S.-made and supplied, but Israeli-modified Caterpillar armored bulldozer. Twelve years ago, it was 18-year old Furkan Dogan, killed by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara as it tried to bring food and supplied to people being starved by Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Six year ago, Mahmoud Shaalan was gunned down while his hands were in the air at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank. Earlier this very year, Israeli forces ripped 78-year old Omar Assad from his car, abused him, handcuffed and blindfolded him, causing such stress he died of a heart attack. 

Israel has never been held accountable, nor held anyone accountable, for the deaths of these American citizens. Lapid’s words made it clear they would not stand for anything less than total impunity regarding these murders. 

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett clarified Israel’s stance. “At any given moment,” Bennett tweeted on Tuesday, “there are Palestinian terrorists trying to murder Israelis. Not the other way round. We are not trigger-happy, but our moral duty is to hit terrorists and thereby save lives.” The army, Bennett stated must be “detached from any pressure, internal or external.”

Sifting through the blatant racism and dishonesty of Bennett’s characterization of Israeli military innocence and Palestinian bloodthirstiness, he is plainly stating that an Israeli soldier can shoot any Palestinian any time she or he wishes, and the very nature of their respective identities as Israeli soldier and Palestinian “terrorist” places the Israelis above reproach. And above any kind of law. 

Lapid’s message got through to both the Israeli public and the Biden administration. But how well is that message playing more broadly in the United States? 

Democratic hawks like Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez—who was in Israel earlier this week—have been remarkably quiet about Shireen lately, but even Menendez, earlier this year, expressed concern over her killing and called for a credible investigation of her death. The silence of pro-Israel Democrats is indicative of the difficult position Israel has put them in, and it has left a vacuum which is amplifying the more critical Democratic voices. 

Outgoing Rep. Marie Newman, for example, tweeted, “The @StateDept’s response to Israel’s statement refusing to prosecute the soldiers responsible for killing Palestinian American Shireen Abu Akleh is woefully inadequate. I expect nothing short of a US investigation that leads to accountability. It’s the least we can do.”

Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), who earlier this year introduced the “Justice for Shireen Act,” said the Israeli report fails to “address the key questions around Shireen Abu Akleh’s death and falls short of what we expect when a U.S. citizen is killed on foreign soil.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva, said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken “has a responsibility to hold Israel accountable and demand justice for [Abu Akleh’s] death,” and that “the silence is damning and deafening. We need justice for Shireen.”

Perhaps most important was the statement of Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who, while at the progressive end of the Democratic Party is still closer to the center than the Representatives who spoke out and is up for re-election this November (albeit in a race that he is universally seen as safe for him). Van Hollen tweeted, “The crux of the “defense” in this IDF report is that a soldier was “returning fire” from militants. But investigations @NYTimes @AP @CNN @washingtonpost & @UN found no such firing at the time. This underscores need for independent US inquiry into this American journalist’s death.”

There is no factual argument that can refute what these Members of Congress have said, which is why Israel’s supporters on Capitol Hill are trying to avoid engaging with them. Indeed, if anything is to be critiqued it is the call for an impartial U.S. investigation. As unlikely as the investigation is, impartiality should it come about is even harder to imagine. 

It is crucial, however, that these calls be supported. Shireen’s murder must remain on the agenda past the November elections. Until then, even the hardiest Democrats are going to tone down criticism of their President and Secretary of State. 

But in two months, that pressure will be lifted. And the Biden administration must be taken to task for its behavior here. As hypocritical as it was for Biden to fist-bump Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, it’s important to recall that, as important a figure as Jamal Khashoggi was, he was a U.S. resident, not a citizen. 

Shireen Abu Akleh, like Rachel Corrie, Furkan Dogan, Mahmoud Shaalan, and Omar Assad before her, was an American citizen. Foreign countries are not supposed to be allowed to murder American citizens with impunity, especially when they are killed for doing their jobs as reporters. 

But Yair Lapid brazenly stated that Israel must be allowed to do just that. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken supported Lapid in that statement, in effect. That’s something that Shireen’s fellow citizens can’t allow. 

THE QUEEN AND HER LEGACY: 21ST CENTURY BRITAIN HAS NEVER LOOKED SO MEDIEVAL

SEPTEMBER 9TH, 2022

Source

By Jonathan Cook

Anyone in the UK who imagined they lived in a representative democracy – one in which leaders are elected and accountable to the people – will be in for a rude awakening over the next days and weeks.

TV schedules have been swept aside. Presenters must wear black and talk in hushed tones. Front pages are uniformly somber. Britain’s media speak with a single, respectful voice about the Queen and her unimpeachable legacy.

Westminster, meanwhile, has been stripped of left and right. The Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties have set aside politics to grieve as one. Even the Scottish nationalists – supposedly trying to rid themselves of the yoke of centuries of English rule presided over by the monarch – appear to be in effusive mourning.

The world’s urgent problems – from the war in Europe to a looming climate catastrophe – are no longer of interest or relevance. They can wait till Britons emerge from a more pressing national trauma.

Domestically, the BBC has told those facing a long winter in which they will not be able to afford to heat their homes that their suffering is “insignificant” compared to that of the family of a 96-year-old woman who died peacefully in the lap of luxury. They can wait too.

In this moment there is no public room for ambivalence or indifference, for reticence, for critical thinking – and most certainly not for Republicanism, even if nearly a third of the public, mostly the young, desire the monarchy’s abolition. The British establishment expects every man, woman, and child to do their duty by lowering their head.

Twenty-first-century Britain never felt so medieval.

WALL-TO-WALL EULOGIES

There are reasons a critical gaze is needed right now, as the British public is corralled into reverential mourning.

The wall-to-wall eulogies are intended to fill our nostrils with the perfume of nostalgia to cover the stench of a rotting institution, one at the heart of the very establishment doing the eulogising.

The demand is that everyone shows respect for the Queen and her family and that now is not the time for criticism or even analysis.

Indeed, the Royal Family have every right to be left in peace to grieve. But privacy is not what they, or the establishment they belong to, crave.

The Royals’ loss is public in every sense. There will be a lavish state funeral, paid for by the taxpayer. There will be an equally lavish coronation of her son, Charles, also paid for by the taxpayer.

And in the meantime, the British public will be force-fed the same official messages by every TV channel – not neutrally, impartially or objectively, but as state propaganda – paid for, once again, by the British taxpayer.

Reverence and veneration are the only types of coverage of the Queen and her family that is now allowed.

But there is a deeper sense in which the Royals are public figures – more so even than those thrust into the spotlight by their celebrity or talent for accumulating money.

The British public has entirely footed the bill for the Royals’ lives of privilege and pampered luxury. Like the kings of old, they have given themselves the right to enclose vast tracts of the British Isles as their private dominion. The Queen’s death, for example, means the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have just added the whole of Cornwall to their estate.

If anyone is public property, it is the British Royals. They have no right to claim an exemption from scrutiny just when scrutiny is most needed – as the anti-democratic privileges of monarchy pass from one set of hands to another.

The demand for silence is not a politically neutral act. It is a demand that we collude in a corrupt system of establishment rule and hierarchical privilege.

The establishment has a vested interest in enforcing silence and obedience until the public’s attention has moved on to other matters. Anyone who complies leaves the terrain open over the coming weeks for the establishment to reinforce and deepen the public’s deference to elite privilege.

CONTINUITY OF RULE

Undoubtedly, the Queen carried out her duties supremely well during her 70 years on the throne. As BBC pundits keep telling us, she helped maintain social “stability” and ensured “continuity” of rule.

The start of her reign in 1952 coincided with her government ordering the suppression of the Mau Mau independence uprising in Kenya. Much of the population were put in concentration camps and used as slave labour – if they weren’t murdered by British soldiers.

At the height of her rule, 20 years later, British troops were given a green light to massacre 14 civilians in Northern Ireland on a protest march against Britain’s policy of jailing Catholics without trial. Those shot and killed were fleeing or tending the wounded. The British establishment oversaw cover-up inquiries into what became known as “Bloody Sunday”.

And in the twilight years of her rule, her government rode roughshod over international law, invading Iraq on the pretext of destroying non-existent weapons of mass destruction. During the long years of a joint British and US occupation, it is likely that more than a million Iraqis died and millions more were driven from their homes.

The Queen, of course, was not personally responsible for any of those events – nor the many others that occurred while she maintained a dignified silence.

But she did provide regal cover for those crimes – in life, just as she is now being recruited to do in death.

It was her Royal Armed Forces that killed Johnny Foreigner.

It was her Commonwealth that repackaged the jackbooted British empire as a new, more media-savvy form of colonialism.

It was the Union Jacks, Beefeaters, black cabs, bowler hats – the ludicrous paraphernalia somehow associated with the Royals in the rest of the world’s mind – that the new power across the Atlantic regularly relied on from its sidekick to add a veneer of supposed civility to its ugly imperial designs.

Paradoxically, given US history, the special-ness of the special relationship hinged on having a much-beloved, esteemed Queen providing “continuity” as the British and US governments went about tearing up the rulebook on the laws of war in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

TEFLON QUEEN

And therein lies the rub. The Queen is dead. Long live the King!

But King Charles III is not Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen had the advantage of ascending to the throne in a very different era, when the media avoided Royal scandals unless they were entirely unavoidable, such as when Edward VIII caused a constitutional crisis in 1936 by announcing his plan to marry an American “commoner”.

With the arrival of 24-hour rolling news in the 1980s and the later advent of digital media, the Royals became just another celebrity family like the Kardashians. They were fair game for the paparazzi. Their scandals sold newspapers. Their indiscretions and feuds chimed with the period’s ever more salacious and incendiary soap opera plots on TV.

But none of that dirt stuck to the Queen, even when recently it was revealed – to no consequence – that her officials had secretly and regularly rigged legislation to exempt her from the rules that applied to everyone else, under a principle known as Queen’s Consent. An apartheid system benefiting the Royal Family alone.

By remaining above the fray, she offered “continuity”. Even the recent revelation that her son, Prince Andrew, consorted with young girls alongside the late Jeffrey Epstein, and kept up the friendship even after Epstein was convicted of paedophilia, did nothing to harm the Teflon Monarch.

Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview
In a Newsnight special, Emily Maitlis interviews the Duke of York as he speaks for the first time about his relationship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Ep…

Charles III, by contrast, is best remembered – at least by the older half of the population – for screwing up his marriage to a fairy-tale princess, Diana, killed in tragic circumstances. In preferring Camilla, Charles traded Cinderella for the evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine.

If the monarch is the narrative glue holding society and empire together, Charles could represent the moment when that project starts to come unstuck.

Which is why the black suits, hushed tones, and air of reverence are needed so desperately right now. The establishment is in frantic holding mode as they prepare to begin the difficult task of reinventing Charles and Camilla in the public imagination. Charles must now do the heavy lifting for the establishment that the Queen managed for so long, even as she grew increasingly frail physically.

The outlines of that plan have been visible for a while. Charles will be rechristened the King of the Green New Deal. He will symbolise Britain’s global leadership against the climate crisis.

If the Queen’s job was to rebrand empire as Commonwealth, transmuting the Mau Mau massacre into gold medals for Kenyan long-distance runners, Charles’ job will be to rebrand as a Green Renewal the death march led by transnational corporations.

Which is why now is no time for silence or obedience. Now is precisely the moment – as the mask slips, as the establishment needs time to refortify its claim to deference – to go on the attack.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Jonathan Cook is a MintPress contributor. Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

JOHN PILGER: SILENCING THE LAMBS. HOW PROPAGANDA WORKS

    SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2022

    JOHN PILGER

    In the 1970s, I met one of Hitler’s leading propagandists, Leni Riefenstahl, whose epic films glorified the Nazis. We happened to be staying at the same lodge in Kenya, where she was on a photography assignment, having escaped the fate of other friends of the Fuhrer.

    She told me that the ‘patriotic messages’ of her films were dependent not on ‘orders from above’ but on what she called the ‘submissive void’ of the German public.

    Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? I asked.  ‘Yes, especially them,’ she said.

    I think of this as I look around at the propaganda now consuming Western societies.

    Of course, we are very different from Germany in the 1930s. We live in information societies. We are globalists. We have never been more aware, more in touch, better connected.

    Are we? Or do we live in a Media Society where brainwashing is insidious and relentless, and perception is filtered according to the needs and lies of state and corporate power?

    The United States dominates the Western world’s media. All but one of the top ten media companies are based in North America. The internet and social media – Google, Twitter, Facebook – are mostly American owned and controlled.

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    In my lifetime, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, mostly democracies. It has interfered in democratic elections in 30 countries. It has dropped bombs on the people of 30 countries, most of them poor and defenceless. It has attempted to murder the leaders of 50 countries.  It has fought to suppress liberation movements in 20 countries.

    The extent and scale of this carnage is largely unreported, unrecognized; and those responsible continue to dominate Anglo-American political life.

    In the years before he died in 2008, the playwright Harold Pinter made two extraordinary speeches, which broke a silence.

    ‘US foreign policy,’ he said, is ‘best defined as follows: kiss my arse or I’ll kick your head in. It is as simple and as crude as that. What is interesting about it is that it’s so incredibly successful. It possesses the structures of disinformation, use of rhetoric, distortion of language, which are very persuasive, but are actually a pack of lies. It is very successful propaganda. They have the money, they have the technology, they have all the means to get away with it, and they do.”

    In accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, Pinter said this:

    The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

    Pinter was a friend of mine and possibly the last great political sage – that is, before dissenting politics were gentrified. I asked him if the ‘hypnosis’ he referred to was the ‘submissive void’ described by Leni Riefenstahl.

    ‘It’s the same,’ he replied. ‘It means the brainwashing is so thorough we are programmed to swallow a pack of lies. If we don’t recognise propaganda, we may accept it as normal and believe it. That’s the submissive void.’

    In our systems of corporate democracy, war is an economic necessity, the perfect marriage of public subsidy and private profit: socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor. The day after 9/11 the stock prices of the war industry soared. More bloodshed was coming, which is great for business.

    Today, the most profitable wars have their own brand. They are called ‘forever wars’: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and now Ukraine. All are based on a pack of lies.

    Iraq is the most infamous, with its weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. Nato’s destruction of Libya in 2011 was justified by a massacre in Benghazi that didn’t happen. Afghanistan was a convenient revenge war for 9/11, which had nothing to do with the people of Afghanistan.

    Today, the news from Afghanistan is how evil the Taliban are – not that Joe Biden’s theft of $7billion of the country’s bank reserves is causing widespread suffering. Recently, National Public Radio in Washington devoted two hours to Afghanistan – and 30 seconds to its starving people.

    At its summit in Madrid in June, Nato, which is controlled by the United States, adopted a strategy document that militarises the European continent, and escalates the prospect of war with Russia and China. It proposes ‘multi domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer-competitor. In other words, nuclear war.

    It says: ‘Nato’s enlargement has been an historic success’.

    I read that in disbelief.

    A measure of this ‘historic success’ is the war in Ukraine, news of which is mostly not news, but a one-sided litany of jingoism, distortion, omission.  I have reported a number of wars and have never known such blanket propaganda.

    In February, Russia invaded Ukraine as a response to almost eight years of killing and criminal destruction in the Russian-speaking region of Donbass on their border.

    In 2014, the United States had sponsored a coup in Kyiv that got rid of Ukraine’s democratically elected, Russian-friendly president and installed a successor whom the Americans made clear was their man.

    War in Europe and the Rise of Raw Propaganda
    John Pilger on Europe, Russia, Ukraine, and the rise of raw propaganda pushing all parties to the brink of war.

    In recent years, American ‘defender’ missiles have been installed in eastern Europe, Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, almost certainly aimed at Russia, accompanied by false assurances all the way back to James Baker’s ‘promise’ to Gorbachev in February 1990 that Nato would never expand beyond Germany.

    Ukraine is the frontline. Nato has effectively reached the very borderland through which Hitler’s army stormed in 1941, leaving more than 23 million dead in the Soviet Union.

    Last December, Russia proposed a far-reaching security plan for Europe. This was dismissed, derided or suppressed in the Western media. Who read its step-by-step proposals? On 24 February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy threatened to develop nuclear weapons unless America armed and protected Ukraine.  This was the final straw.

    On the same day, Russia invaded – according to the Western media, an unprovoked act of congenital infamy. The history, the lies, the peace proposals, the solemn agreements on Donbass at Minsk counted for nothing.

    On 25 April, the US Defence Secretary, General Lloyd Austin, flew into Kyiv and confirmed that America’s aim was to destroy the Russian Federation – the word he used was ‘weaken’. America had got the war it wanted, waged by an American bankrolled and armed proxy and expendable pawn.

    Almost none of this was explained to Western audiences.

    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is wanton and inexcusable. It is a crime to invade a sovereign country. There are no ‘buts’ – except one.

    When did the present war in Ukraine begin and who started it? According to the United Nations, between 2014 and this year, some 14,000 people have been killed in the Kyiv regime’s civil war on the Donbass. Many of the attacks were carried out by neo-Nazis.

    Watch an ITV news report from May 2014, by the veteran reporter James Mates, who is shelled, along with civilians in the city of Mariupol, by Ukraine’s Azov (neo-Nazi) battalion.

    In the same month, dozens of Russian-speaking people were burned alive or suffocated in a trade union building in Odessa besieged by fascist thugs, the followers of the Nazi collaborator and anti-Semitic fanatic Stephen Bandera.  The New York Times called the thugs ‘nationalists’.

    ‘The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment,’ said Andreiy Biletsky, founder of the Azov Battaltion, ‘is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival, a crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.’

    Since February, a campaign of self-appointed ‘news monitors’ (mostly funded by the Americans and British with links to governments) have sought to maintain the absurdity that Ukraine’s neo-Nazis don’t exist.

    Airbrushing, a term once associated with Stalin’s purges, has become a tool of mainstream journalism.

    In less than a decade, a ‘good’ China has been airbrushed and a ‘bad’ China has replaced it: from the world’s workshop to a budding new Satan.

    Much of this propaganda originates in the US, and is transmitted through proxies and ‘think-tanks’, such as the notorious Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the voice of the arms industry, and by zealous journalists such as Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald, who labeled those spreading Chinese influence as ‘rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows’ and called for these ‘pests’ to be ‘eradicated’.

    News about China in the West is almost entirely about the threat from Beijing. Airbrushed are the 400 American military bases that surround most of China, an armed necklace that reaches from Australia to the Pacific and south east Asia, Japan and Korea. The Japanese island of Okinawa and the Korean island of Jeju are loaded guns aimed point blank at the industrial heart of China. A Pentagon official described this as a ‘noose’.

    Palestine has been misreported for as long as I can remember. To the BBC, there is the ‘conflict’ of ‘two narratives’. The longest, most brutal, lawless military occupation in modern times is unmentionable.

    The stricken people of Yemen barely exist. They are media unpeople.  While the Saudis rain down their American cluster bombs with British advisors working alongside the Saudi targeting officers, more than half a million children face starvation.

    This brainwashing by omission has a long history. The slaughter of the First World War was suppressed by reporters who were knighted for their compliance and confessed in their memoirs.  In 1917, the editor of the Manchester Guardian, C.P. Scott, confided to prime minister Lloyd George: ‘If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow, but they don’t know and can’t know.’

    The refusal to see people and events as those in other countries see them is a media virus in the West, as debilitating as Covid.  It is as if we see the world through a one-way mirror, in which ‘we’ are moral and benign and ‘they’ are not. It is a profoundly imperial view.

    The history that is a living presence in China and Russia is rarely explained and rarely understood. Vladimir Putin is Adolf Hitler. Xi Jinping is Fu Man Chu. Epic achievements, such as the eradication of abject poverty in China, are barely known. How perverse and squalid this is.

    When will we allow ourselves to understand? Training journalists factory style is not the answer. Neither is the wondrous digital tool, which is a means, not an end, like the one-finger typewriter and the linotype machine.

    In recent years, some of the best journalists have been eased out of the mainstream. ‘Defenestrated’ is the word used. The spaces once open to mavericks, to journalists who went against the grain, truth-tellers, have closed.

    The case of Julian Assange is the most shocking.  When Julian and WikiLeaks could win readers and prizes for the Guardian, the New York Times and other self-important ‘papers of record’, he was celebrated.

    When the dark state objected and demanded the destruction of hard drives and the assassination of Julian’s character, he was made a public enemy. Vice President Biden called him a ‘hi-tech terrorist’. Hillary Clinton asked, ‘Can’t we just drone this guy?’

    The ensuing campaign of abuse and vilification against Julian Assange – the UN Rapporteur on Torture called it ‘mobbing’ — brought the liberal press to its lowest ebb. We know who they are. I think of them as collaborators: as Vichy journalists.

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    When will real journalists stand up? An inspirational samizdat  already exists on the internet: Consortium News, founded by the great reporter Robert Parry, Max Blumenthal’s  Grayzone, MintPress News, Media Lens, Declassified UKAlborada, Electronic Intifada, WSWS, ZNet, ICH, Counter Punch, Independent Australia, the work of Chris Hedges, Patrick Lawrence, Jonathan Cook, Diana Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone and others who will forgive me for not mentioning them here.

    And when will writers stand up, as they did against the rise of fascism in the 1930s? When will film-makers stand up, as they did against the Cold War in the 1940s? When will satirists stand up, as they did a generation ago?

    Having soaked for 82 years in a deep bath of righteousness that is the official version of the last world war, isn’t it time those who are meant to keep the record straight declared their independence and decoded the propaganda? The urgency is greater than ever.

    Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

    John Pilger has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism and has been International Reporter of the Year, News Reporter of the Year and Descriptive Writer of the Year. He has made 61 documentary films and has won an Emmy, a BAFTA the Royal Television Society prize and the Sydney Peace Prize. His ‘Cambodia Year Zero’ is named as one of the ten most important films of the 20th century. This article is an edited version of an address to the Trondheim World Festival, Norway. He can be contacted at www.johnpilger.com

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

    ‘PAINFUL MARCH FOR FREEDOM’: THE TRIUMPHANT LEGACY OF PALESTINIAN PRISONERS

    SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2022

    Source

    By Ramzy Baroud

    As soon as I left prison, I went to Nael’s grave. It is adorned with the colors of the Palestinian flag and verses from the Holy Quran. I told my little brother how much I loved and appreciated him, and that, one day, we would meet again in paradise.

    The above is part of a testimony given to me by a former Palestinian prisoner, Jalal Lutfi Saqr. It was published two years ago in the volume ‘These Chains Will Be Broken’.

    As a Palestinian, born and raised in a refugee camp in Gaza, I was always familiar with the political discourse of, and concerning, political prisoners. My neighborhood, like every neighborhood in Gaza, is populated with a large number of former prisoners, or families whose members have experienced imprisonment in the past or present.

    However, starting in 2016, my relationship with the subject took on, for the lack of a better term,  a more ‘academic’ approach. Since then, and up to now, I have interviewed scores of former prisoners and members of their families. Some were imprisoned by Israel, others by the Palestinian Authority. I even spoke to prisoners who experienced the brutality of Middle Eastern prisons, from Iraq, to Syria, to Egypt and Lebanon. A few particularly unlucky ones have endured multiple prison experiences and were tortured by men speaking different languages.

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    Some prisoners, now quite old, were imprisoned by the British army, which colonized Palestine between 1920 and 1948. They were held according to the 1945 so-called Defense (Emergency) Regulations, an arbitrary legal code that allowed the British to hold as many rebelling Palestinian Arabs without having to provide a cause or engage in due process.

    This system remains in effect to this day, as it was adopted by Israel following the end of the British Mandate. Following minor amendments in 1979, and the renaming of the law into the “Israeli Law on Authority in States of Emergency”, this is essentially today’s so-called ‘Administrative Detention’. It allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians, practically indefinitely, based on ‘secret evidence’ that is not revealed, even to the defense attorney.

    These ‘emergency’ laws remain in place, simply because Palestinians never ceased resisting. Thousands of Palestinians were held without evidence or trial during the First Palestinian Intifada, the uprising of 1987. Most of them were kept in horrific living conditions, in tent cities in the Naqab Desert.

    According to the Palestinian Commission on Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, around one million Palestinians were imprisoned between 1967 and 2021. Currently, hundreds of Palestinian ‘administrative detainees’ are held in Israeli prisons, an act that violates international law on various counts – holding prisoners without trial or due process, and transferring prisoners to enemy territories, the latter being a stark violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

    Of course, respecting international law has never been Israel’s strongest suit. In fact, Israel continues to deliberately ignore international law in numerous aspects of its illegal military occupation of Palestine, rationalizing such actions on ‘security’ grounds.

    Palestinians are also doing what they do best, resist, under the harshest circumstances and by every means available to them. Tellingly, the strongest of such resistance takes place inside prison walls, by gaunt looking, and often dying hunger strikers.

    Khalil Awawdeh, a 40-year-old Palestinian from a village near Al-Khalil (Hebron) is the latest prisoner hunger striker to make history, by simply refraining from eating for 180 days. His weight has dropped to 38 kilograms, after losing over 40 kilograms while on hunger strike. The images of his half-naked, skeletal body have been deemed ‘graphic’ and ‘offensive’ to some social media users, and were removed as soon as they were shared. At the end, he could only whisper a few words. Though barely audible, they were filled with courage.

    Khalil Awawdeh
    Khalil Awawdeh in bed at Asaf Harofeh Hospital in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel, Aug. 24, 2022. Mahmoud Illean | AP

    On August 31, Awawdeh ended his hunger strike, after reaching a deal with the Israeli prison administration to release him on October 2. His first words after that agreement were hardly those of a dying man, but of a triumphant leader: “This resounding victory extends the series of great victories achieved by the mighty and honorable people of this nation.”

    These words, however, were not unique. They carried the same sentiment communicated to me by every single freed prisoner I have interviewed in recent years. None have any regrets, even those who spent most of their lives in dark cells and in shackles; even those who lost loved ones; even those who left prison with chronic diseases, to die soon after their release. Their message is always that of defiance, of courage, and of hope.

    Awawdeh is neither the first, nor the last prisoner to undergo these life-threatening hunger strikes. The strategy may be explained, and understandably so, as the last resort or as acts of desperation by individuals who are left without alternatives. But for Palestinians, these are acts of resistance that demonstrate the power of the Palestinian people: even in prison, handcuffed to a hospital bed, denied every basic human right, a Palestinian can fight, and win. Awawdeh did.

    When Jalal Lutfi Saqr learned that his brother Nael was killed by the Israeli army in Gaza, he was a prisoner in Israel. He told me that the first thing he did when he learned of his brother’s death was kneeling down and praying. The following day, Jalal spoke to the mourners in his Gaza refugee camp using a smuggled cell phone by telling them, “Ours is a long and painful march for freedom.

    “Some of us are in prison; others are underground, but we will never cease our fight for our people. We must remain committed to the legacy of our forefathers and our martyrs. We are all brothers, in blood, in the struggle and in faith, so let’s remain united as one people, as brothers and sisters, and carry on, despite the heavy losses and tremendous sacrifices.”

    Jalal’s call on his people was made twenty years ago. It remains as relevant today, as it was then.

    Nord Stream I Disruption: Europe’s Panicking After Poland Finally Got What It Wanted

    Sep 3, 2022

    By Andrew Korybko

    Source

    The absolute last thing that Poland wants right now is for everyone to remember how actively its leadership lobbied for exactly this outcome that’s since brought so much hardship to hundreds of millions of people, which is why it’s so important right now for activists to prioritize raising awareness of this “politically inconvenient” fact.

    The entire US-led Western Mainstream Media (MSM) went wild on Friday after Gazprom announced the indefinite suspension of supplies through Nord Stream I due to technical malfunctions that were only just discovered. The Golden Billion’s perception managers speculated that Russia was weaponizing the export of gas to Europe as punishment for the bloc complying with the US’ counterproductive sanctions demands. The prevailing theory is that President Putin wants to exacerbate the EU’s impending energy crisis ahead of the coming winter in an attempt to pressure its leaders to coerce Kiev into concessions.

    Whatever one’s views may be about that interpretation of events, there’s no denying that Europe’s in an unprecedented state of panic, especially considering the very likely possibility of large-scale socio-political unrest the longer that its systemic economic crisis lasts. To remind everyone, this crisis was brought about by the combination of complying with the US’ sanctions and Nord Stream I’s unexpected indefinite disruption. Likewise, there’s also no denying the following “politically incorrect” fact that’s being desperately suppressed by the MSM because it raises too many questions at this sensitive time.

    Few folks remember it, but Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki demanded in late May ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos that Germany unilaterally shut down Nord Stream I by the end of the year. Prior to that, he proposed including that pipeline in the Golden Billion’s sanctions package right after the latest US-provoked phase of the Ukrainian Conflict began over half a year ago. It’s now known just how disastrous the disruption of Russian exports through that route has been for European stability, which wasn’t unexpected but should make observers wonder why Poland wanted this predictable outcome.

    From the get-go, this aspiring Central & Eastern European (CEE) hegemon has pushed for the most radical anti-Russian policies possible, with its leadership even going as far as boasting that they set the global standard for Russophobia. Part of the reason is due to the “negative nationalism” that’s regrettably come to influence the formation of Polish nationalism in recent years wherein Poles obsess over what supposedly differentiates themselves from Russians instead of embracing “positive nationalism” which refers to pride in what one is without comparing themselves to others.

    The other reason is much more strategic and related to the desire to sabotage leading European countries’ efforts to maximize their strategic autonomy. In particular, Poland fears that a strong Germany will impose its envisioned continental hegemony onto all others, beginning with its eastern neighbor. Its leadership therefore decided to pursue a dual policy of presenting itself as the US’ leading anti-Russian force in Europe so as to become that declining unipolar hegemony’s top partner on the continent in parallel with trying to trick Germany into committing economic suicide.

    The first-mentioned was achieved through its rabidly Russophobic policies while the second was advanced by consistently pushing for Berlin to unilaterally shut down Nord Stream I on the false basis of “solidarity with its fellow democracies”, the manipulative rhetoric of which the Polish Ambassador to India just referenced while trying to pressure Delhi into condemning and sanctioning Moscow. Even though shutting down that pipeline would damage Poland’s own interests, Warsaw wagered that its people won’t protest all that much since they’re so indoctrinated with “negative nationalism”.

    That aspiring hegemon’s grand strategic interests with respect to undercutting Germany’s rise as a global power through the aforementioned means are regarded as much more important than its short-term ones connected with the disruption of the continent’s Russian energy supplies. What Poland has plotted all along is to mislead Germany into promulgating counterproductive policies that would irreversibly weaken its strategic autonomy vis a vis the US and thus enable Washington to restore its declining unipolar hegemony over Berlin and the bloc that it unofficially leads more broadly.

    The purpose behind doing so is for the US to privilege Poland over Germany as its top European vassal as a reward for Warsaw perfectly marching in lockstep with Washington’s anti-Russian demands and tricking Berlin into irreversibly weakening its strategic autonomy to the point where America could successfully reassert its hegemonic control over the continent. The euro has dropped to its lowest rate against the dollar in two decades as a result of the joint US-Polish Hybrid War on Germany, which means that it’s unlikely that this aspiring global power can ever economically compete with the US again.

    This outcome would have happened even sooner had Germany gone along with Poland’s ill-intended plan to sanction Nord Stream I half a year ago prior to announcing in late May like Morawiecki demanded at the time that it’ll unilaterally stop importing gas from this pipeline by the end of the year. The whole point behind pursuing these destabilizing objectives was for Poland to get Germany to weaken itself and the EU by none other than its own hand so as to ensure the successful reassertion of US hegemony over the continent in order to forever avert a rapprochement with Russia.

    For as distant as that second scenario might have seemed up until recently, it was still possible in theory for a strategically autonomous Germany to eventually repair its relations with Russia after some time so long as the economic foundation of the bloc’s de facto leader remained comparatively stable and it was thus able to retain some degree of independence from the declining American hegemony. That’s precisely why Poland wanted Germany to get rid of Nord Stream I in order for its Hybrid War target to sabotage its own objective national interests.

    Regardless of whatever one thinks about Nord Stream I’s latest disruption and whether it’s truly related to technical malfunctions or whatever else, this development dooms Germany to vassalhood status vis a vis the US in full accordance with the grand strategic outcome that Poland’s been pursuing for the past half-year already as was earlier explained. The unprecedented socio-economic hardships that the unexpectedly exacerbated energy crisis is bound to inflict on hundreds of millions of people in the EU makes this latest event extremely unpopular though, which risks making its Polish mastermind look bad.

    Even though Poland ultimately wasn’t responsible for the outcome that it’s pursued for so long after it ended up officially occurring due to technical malfunctions and not Germany’s own hand, Warsaw still doesn’t want to be associated with the immense hardships that this development has inflicted on the European people. It intended for Berlin to be blamed for this, which would have destroyed its target’s soft power once and for all, but now the MSM’s perception managers can conveniently blame Moscow while simultaneously trying to make everyone forget that Warsaw’s wanted this all along.

    The absolute last thing that Poland wants right now is for everyone to remember how actively its leadership lobbied for exactly this outcome that’s since brought so much hardship to hundreds of millions of people, which is why it’s so important right now for activists to prioritize raising awareness of this “politically inconvenient” fact. Europeans deserve to know that this is all part of the joint US-Polish Hybrid War on Germany for the earlier explained grand strategic aims even though the climax thus far was due to technical malfunctions and not Berlin being tricked into shutting down the pipeline.

    Biden Spit On The Soul Of The American Nation By Pitting His People Against One Another

    Sep 3, 2022

    Source

    By Andrew Korybko

    Maliciously smearing approximately half of the country as existential terrorist-inclined threats to “the soul of the nation” is nothing but the crudest Machiavellian means of dividing and ruling the population.

    The Unprecedentedly Dangerous Divider-In-Chief

    US President Joe Biden’s nationally televised speech on Thursday that the official White House website headlined as being about “the continued battle for the soul of the nation” saw the incumbent become the most dangerous and divisive American leader in history. Far from trying to cleanse and protect that very same soul, he shamelessly spit on it by pitting his people against one another as part of an obvious divide-and-rule plot ahead of the neck-and-neck midterm elections that are only two months away.

    Debunking Biden’s False Belief In Equality & Democracy

    The first part that stands out is Biden emphasizing how the location of his speech, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was made and the Constitution signed, reinforces the mutually complementary concepts of equality and democracy connected with those two documents. He doesn’t truly believe in either of those though as proven by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemning all minority views as “extremist” earlier that same day.  

    Nevertheless, he pretended that he’s a true believer in them in order to artificially manufacture the basis upon which to contrast himself with former US President Donald Trump. Biden claimed that his predecessor and those who still support his Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement supposedly “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.” Falsely framing them as existential threats so close to the midterms is obviously aimed at manipulating voters’ perceptions.

    Applying The “Rules For Radicals” Against The MAGA Movement

    This crude tactic would be condemned by the American Government if it was employed by any Global South leader irrespective of whether it’s baseless like in Biden’s case or genuinely backed up by facts. Biden then channeled the infamous Saul Alinksy’s “Rules For Radicals”, specifically the thirteenth rule to “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it”, when claiming that “the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans”.

    By adding that “that is a threat to this country”, the incumbent ominously implied that the full authority of the state will be brought down to bear on those who are even simply suspected of being remotely connected to the former president or his movement on faux national security pretexts. He then instantly reverted to gaslighting once again just like he earlier did by unconvincingly claiming that he supports the Founding Fathers’ vision of equality and democracy by contrasting Democrats and MAGA on false bases.

    Who Really Employs Political Violence & Election Conspiracy Theories?

    The same man who represents the party that frenziedly fanned the flames of the joint Antifa- and BLM-led Hybrid War of Terror on America all throughout summer 2020, whose countless antagonists were manipulated into functioning as “useful idiots” of the anti-MAGA faction of the US “deep state” (permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies), counterfactually claimed that it’s Trump and his supporters who divided the country through the use of violence for political ends.

    Biden also insulted Americans’ intelligence by gaslighting that it’s only some MAGA folks who’ve ever rejected the outcome of a presidential election when most Democrats refused to recognize the legitimacy of Trump’s victory in 2016. Not only that, but their anti-MAGA “deep state” puppeteers literally concocted the Russiagate conspiracy theory that they laundered through allied congressional representatives, law enforcement, media, and NGOs to discredit the entirety of his four years in office.

    The Democrats’ Path To A Dystopian Post-Modern Dictatorship

    The ”carnage and darkness and despair” that the incumbent claimed that MAGA folks see when they look at America was actually the Democrats’ rallying cry during all of Trump’s term and especially ahead of the 2020 elections. When Biden said that “They spread fear and lies – lies told for profit and power”, this objectively described the Democrats as was earlier explained with respect to the Russiagate conspiracy theory as well as their false fearmongering about Trump being a “dictator worse than Hitler”.

    On the topic of dictatorship, the author predicted shortly after 2020’s disputed election that “Biden’s America Would Be A Dystopian Hellhole”, which continues progressively unfolding exactly as foreseen. “Every Democrat Is A Wannabe Dictator”, so it naturally follows that the party’s latest figurehead would play to this fantasy by falsely describing his political opponents as supposed “threats” in order to create the “publicly plausible” pretext for imposing a Pakistani-like post-modern dictatorship.

    His infamous speech perniciously manipulated the concept of pre-bunking in order to mislead Americans into falsely considering approximately half of the country to be an existential threat to “the soul of the nation.” By dividing and ruling them in such a stereotypically Machiavellian way, Biden (or rather those members of the “deep state” that are behind him and wrote his speech) is deliberately trying to radicalize the minority of at-risk MAGA folks to engage in highly publicized political violence.

    The MAGA Mentality

    Objectively speaking, they’ve always been on the strategic defensive even before Trump’s election since the whole reason why they voted for him in the first place was their hope that he’d reverse – or at least slow down – the Democrat-driven trend of comprehensively dismantling everything that America stood for. Upon the 45th President entering office, they then found themselves viciously targeted by their opponents, who ultimately waged a nationwide spree of urban terrorism against them in summer 2020.

    After their hero’s scandalous departure from the White House and his replacement with the “deep state”-backed Democrat’s placeholder, those who sympathize with MAGA or are at the very least perceived as being associated with it are now at risk of being actively oppressed by the state. Biden’s hate-filled speech will only exacerbate these fears, which could very easily radicalize the absolute minority of those folks with preexisting mental illnesses and thus push them to political violence.

    The Worst-Case Scenario

    No sincerely law-abiding and patriotic American would ever harm their compatriots no matter how fierce their political disputes may get, yet it’s impossible to ever perfectly defend against “lone wolves”, including those that have previously been on the secret police’s (FBI) radar. In the worst-case scenario that one or some of them end up doing something terrible, God forbid, then there’s no doubt that the incident (which might even manifest as a terrorist attack) would be exploited by the ruling party.

    Gaslighting à Preconditioning à Political Violence à State-Sponsored “Canceling”

    Biden’s backers would certainly take advantage of it to accelerate America’s descent into a dystopian post-modern dictatorship, but for their plans to enjoy the greatest probability of success, they must first effectively divide and rule the population through gaslighting tactics exactly as the incumbent just did. The next step is to precondition them into expecting political violence by the side that’s misportrayed as an existential threat that’s supposedly predisposed to terrorism, which Biden also just achieved.

    Upon the worst-case scenario transpiring, God forbid, so-called “cancel culture” can then immediately be weaponized to its most vicious political extreme by carrying out a nationwide crackdown against everyone even remotely suspected of being associated with MAGA. These devious plans aren’t anything that a sincere believer in “the continued battle for the soul of the nation” would plot, but that’s why nobody should fall for Biden’s, his backer’s, and their “useful idiots”’ false claims that they’re patriots.

    Unity & Division

    From top-down and bottom-up, the Democrats are united like never before when it come to carrying out this nationwide crackdown, even though their agreement with one another in this respect is thus far only tacit and not explicit. Be that as it is, so too can it be said that MAGA is unprecedentedly united in bracing for this dystopian post-modern dictatorship scenario, though it’s only the former that have the power to be “legitimate” agents of change due to their monopoly over the state’s use of violence.

    To be absolutely clear so that there’s no false perception of ambiguity whatsoever at all, the author is not in any way implying that MAGA should illegitimately employ violence (i.e. anything that isn’t the legally enshrined right to self-defense) against anyone, whether their political opponents or the state. The movement that coalesced around Trump but organically arose long before his political rise must absolutely remain committed to peaceful and political means for regaining power through the ballot.

    Having clarified that crucial point of principle that should always be at the forefront of every MAGA-aligned person’s mind, political practice sometimes differs from political theory, so it can’t be taken for granted that at least one of those folks who’ve objectively been on the strategic defensive for years as was earlier explained won’t be triggered into committing political violence by Biden’s speech. However it might unfold, God forbid, that worst-case scenario would set drastic events into motion.

    Reflecting On Biden’s Hateful Remarks

    Those who have the time to reread the incumbent’s hateful remarks in full will more be able to more clearly discern the ulterior motives that are very strongly implied by his provocative words. He was tasked with repeating high-sounding rhetoric in order to gaslight people into not suspecting the Democrats of preparing for the sequence of events that would follow his deliberate attempt at radicalizing already the ultra-fringe minority of already psychologically disturbed MAGA folks.

    Maliciously smearing approximately half of the country as existential terrorist-inclined threats to “the soul of the nation” is nothing but the crudest Machiavellian means of dividing and ruling the population. For as dark as the future might appear after Biden’s unprecedentedly divisive information warfare provocation against the American people, the worst-case scenario isn’t inevitable since nothing about the presently chaotic trajectory of the situation is deterministic.

    Pulling America Back From The Brink of Civil War

    While it arguably does indeed appear as though an undeclared civil war might soon be fought between the “deep state”-backed Democrats led on the streets by a coalition of Antifa, BLM, and ideologically aligned law enforcement on one side against MAGA-affiliated Americans on the other (or is already being waged according to some), that scenario could also still be averted. Responsible influencers from both sides should immediately make it known that they disavow any and all violence.

    Those within their ranks who disagree with their peaceful methods of resolving political disputes must be disowned so that any rogue violence that they might God forbid commit isn’t credibly associated with either side’s cause. Law enforcement members should also remember their duty to impartially uphold the law and not allow themselves to be manipulated by anyone for political ends, while lawmakers mustn’t ever forget their sacred obligation to protect the people who they’re responsible for.

    The Role Of Responsible Political Leaders & Law Enforcement Members

    The Hybrid War of Terror on America could have easily been nipped in the bud had mayors/governors ordered local police/ National Guard to do so, but they purposely declined as part of their political plot to influence people’s perceptions ahead of the 2020 elections so that they’d vote against Trump. In the event of forthcoming large-scale unrest, whether driven by “deep state”-backed Democrat “useful idiots” or rogue MAGA folks, these same leaders must decisively act unlike before.

    Likewise, law enforcement should prepare themselves to publicly disagree with those abovementioned leaders if their superiors once again decline to deploy them to protect the populace. The principled among them should also consider refusing to illegally restrict law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights if they’re ordered to do so since that’s one of the scenarios that could be employed by the Democrats in response to the earlier speculative worst-case scenario or possibly even to provoke it.

    Concluding Thoughts

    America is dangerously on the verge of descending into a fast-moving and full-on dystopian post-modern dictatorship, pushed over the precipice by none other than its incumbent president and those shadowy “deep state” forces that are behind him. That disastrous outcome can still be averted, as well as the worst-case scenarios that would likely make this trajectory irreversible, but it’ll require Americans of all political views coming together to peacefully defeat those who want to divide and rule them.

    For 18 months, as ISIS advanced, the US did nothing to stop them

    September 02 2022

    Source

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By William Van Wagenen

    In 2017, US and allied Kurdish forces bombarded the city of Raqqa, the bastion of ISIS in Syria and the de-facto capital of the terror group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

    Concurrent to this, US forces conducted massive air strikes on the Iraqi city of Mosul, to support Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces against ISIS there too.

    But the US-led campaigns in Mosul and Raqqa falsely suggest that the US and ISIS were implacable enemies. These battles created the perception that the US was committed to fighting Al-Qaeda and its various splinter groups, in a continuation of the so-called “War on Terror” begun by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11.

    Supporting ISIS’ territorial advances

    However, a closer look at events in both Iraq and Syria paints a very different picture: The US and its allies, both directly and indirectly, colluded with ISIS to attain specific geopolitical objectives. The terror group that captured the world’s attention in 2014 was in fact a vital and valuable tool for US policy planners.

    Evidence of this is rife. In June 2014, when ISIS fighters swept across the Syrian border to first capture Mosul, the largest city of its caliphate, the US military monitored the ISIS convoys crossing from Syria using drones and satellite systems, but took no action to bomb them.

    Earlier, in an October 2013 visit to the White House, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had warned Obama administration officials that, “The weapons provided to those killers in Syria have been smuggled to Iraq, and those wolves that came from different countries to Syria are now sneaking into Iraq.”

    Maliki’s warnings were spot on. He took his case to Washington because it was clear – even then – that weapons the US and its allies were the pumping into Syria were being passed from so-called “moderate rebels” to Al Qaeda and other extremist militants.

    Then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk, who worried about a possible ISIS advance even on Baghdad at the time, described fellow US officials advocating the policy of allowing ISIS to take Mosul as “completely out of their minds.”

    Two months later, ISIS fighters coming from Syria in the west, and Mosul in the east, assaulted the Sinjar region of Iraq, home to the Yazidi religious minority. Within the course of a few days, ISIS fighters massacred thousands of Yazidi men and boys, while enslaving some 7,000 Yazidi women and children.

    The US looks the other way

    At the time, US President Barack Obama claimed he would act to avert a “potential act of genocide” against the Yazidis, but then turned a blind eye to the ensuing ethnic cleansing.

    Although the US president approved limited air strikes to reverse ISIS’ advance on Erbil – the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Northern Iraq (where US oil companies and diplomats were based) – Obama simultaneously refused to bomb ISIS militants to prevent the massacre of Yazidis in the village of Kocho, despite desperate pleas from US-based Yazidi activists to do so.

    In yet another example of blatant US military inaction, on 20 May, 2015, ISIS conquered the Syrian city of Tadmur at the site of ancient Palmyra, famous for its Roman ruins, thereby paving the way for the terrorist organization to push closer to Damascus.

    Once again, US military planners had ample opportunity to bomb ISIS convoys advancing across the open desert from Raqqa on route to assault the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but chose to watch instead.

    The following year, the LA Times reported that:

    “As Islamic State [ISIS] closed in on Palmyra, the U.S.-led aerial coalition that has been pummeling Islamic State in Syria for the past 18 months took no action to prevent the extremists’ advance toward the historic town — which, until then, had remained in the hands of the sorely overstretched Syrian security forces. The U.S. approach in Palmyra contrasted dramatically with the very proactive U.S. bombardment of Kobani during 2014-15 on behalf of U.S.-allied Kurdish militias fending off a furious Islamic State offensive.”

    How can these contradictions be explained? Why did US planners allow ISIS to grow and expand in Mosul, Sinjar, and Palmyra for 18 months between 2014 and 2015, only to conduct two brutal military campaigns, causing massive civilian suffering, to defeat the terror group in Raqqa and Mosul in 2017? In the fight against ISIS, whose side was the US really on?

    Backing terrorists to regime-change Syria

    The answer lies partly in US policy toward the Syrian government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Washington initially wished to use ISIS as leverage to oust Assad from power, as part of a broader effort at regime change that had started long before. Once ISIS was no longer useful to this end, US planners turned against the group, as has been the norm whenever US assets pass their expiry date.

    To accomplish this regime-change, the US and its allies partnered with Jihadi-Salafis, including from Al-Qaeda in Iraq, to launch a dirty war on the Syrian state in 2011, attacking Syrian police, soldiers and security forces under the cover of the anti-government protests that initially appeared to be part of broader region-wide Arab uprisings.

    The early anti-government protests in Syria, including the first protests in Deraa in March 2011, were also orchestrated by US planners, with assistance from activists of both liberal and Islamist orientation, including from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Sarouri trend.

    With the help of allied intelligence agencies in the region, the US pumped billions of dollars of weapons and aid to Salafist militant groups in Syria in subsequent years, hoping these militants could successfully topple the Assad government on the US and Israel’s behalf.

    Achieving this goal relied in part on establishing what US intelligence analysts described as a “Salafist principality” in the majority Sunni regions of eastern Syria (Raqqa and Deir Ezzor) and western Iraq (Mosul). Destroying the Baathist Syrian state by dividing the country along ethnic, religious and tribal lines had been a goal of US neoconservative planners since at least the 1990’s.

    After an intra-jihadi civil war, ISIS as an organization emerged as the most powerful faction in the broader US-backed Salafist insurgency, and in 2014 established the desired Salafist principality, or caliphate, with Raqqa and Mosul as its two main strongholds.

    Funneling weapons to terrorists

    Though US-backed Persian Gulf sheikhdoms supported ISIS directly, according to admissions from US Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, Washington’s support for the terror group, and its sister organization, the Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda’s Syrian subsidiary), was indirect.

    US support for ISIS (and Nusra) came in the form of money and weapons channeled through what was formally known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Weapons were then passed on to, or captured by, ISIS and Nusra. US planners simply had to flood the country with weapons, then turn a blind eye to where the weapons would certainly end up.

    Though allegedly composed of deserters from the Syrian army fighting to establish a secular, democratic state, in fact the FSA never existed as a real army, but instead functioned largely as brand adopted by many of the Salafist militant groups fighting on the ground. The most capable of the Salafist militants fighting under the FSA banner would then graduate to fight for the more respected Jihadi groups, whether ISIS or Nusra.

    Prominent FSA groups whose fighters eventually defected to ISIS in significant numbers include the Farouq Brigades in Homs, Liwa al-Hajar al-Aswad in Yarmouk camp, the Ahfad al-Rasoul Brigades, the Military Council, the Revolutionary Council, and Liwa al-Sa’qa in Deir al-Zour, and Saqour al-Sham in Idlib.

    Fighters from these Salafist groups, and the western and Gulf weapons funneled to them through the FSA leadership, therefore formed the foundation upon which both ISIS and the Nusra Front were built, and which finally enabled ISIS to establish the Salafist principality in Iraq and Syria desired by US planners.

    The FSA brand provided a secular facade to the Salafist and Al-Qaeda dominated insurgency, allowing US and allied countries to publicly justify providing military support to the insurgency, while feigning opposition to the Al-Qaeda groups.

    Western media and think tank analysts claimed this military aid was going to help the “Syrian people” resist a dictator, even though the groups comprising the insurgency had little popular, support, generally fought alongside and in support of the Al-Qaeda groups, and broadly terrorized most Syrians with their sectarian ideology and hatred of religious minorities.

    Assisting ISIS in Syria

    After conquering Mosul in June 2014, ISIS crossed back into Syria to conquer Deir Ezzor province, with the help of local FSA brigades.

    According to Samer al-Ani, an opposition media activist from Deir Al-Zour, several fighting groups affiliated to the US-backed Military Council quietly assisted ISIS in the assault on the province. Al-Ani warned that “money being sent through members of the [US-backed] National Coalition to rebels in Deir Ezzor risks going to ISIS,” and that “these groups pledged loyalty to ISIS four months ago, so this was not forced as a result of ISIS’s latest push, as happened elsewhere. Such collaboration was key to the takeover of Deir Ezzor in recent weeks, especially in areas where ISIS could not defeat the local forces so easily.”

    Assistance from local FSA factions allowed ISIS to quickly capture a string of strategic towns and cities along the Euphrates River, including Al-Bukamal on the Iraqi border, followed by Al-Shuhayl (known as Nusra’s capital), Al-Mayadeen, and much of Deir Ezzor city itself. This allowed ISIS to expel Nusra from the province.

    ISIS relied on FSA factions not only for manpower but also for weapons. Newsweek reports that according to a report by UK-based Conflict Armament Research, ISIS obtained much of their “arsenal as a result of former President Barack Obama’s support for rebels in Syria,” and that these weapons “included a powerful anti-tank missile launcher bought from a Bulgarian manufacturer by the U.S. Army and wielded by ISIS only weeks later.”

    Al-Jazeera reported in July 2013 that according to the ISIS commander for Aleppo province at the time, Abu Atheer, “we are buying weapons from the FSA. we bought 200 anti-aircraft missiles and Koncourse anti-tank weapons. We have good relations with our brothers in the FSA.”

    Konkurs missiles were provided to FSA groups via the CIA’s regional allies, while the US intelligence agency trained FSA fighters in the use of these weapons in Jordan and Turkey starting in November 2012. When asked about the CIA training, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney simply said, “We have stepped up our assistance, but I cannot inventory for you all the elements of that assistance,” and that “We have provided and will continue to provide substantial assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as the Supreme Military Council.”

    ISIS was able to acquire US and Gulf supplied weapons so quickly because, in many instances, FSA commanders had secretly pledged allegiance to ISIS. Such FSA commanders were therefore able to deliver weapons from the US-backed Supreme Military Council (SMC) to ISIS almost immediately upon receiving them.

    Syrian oppositionist news website Deir Ezzor 24 notes for example that FSA commander Abu Seif Al-Shaiti of Ahfad Al-Rasoul attended a meeting in Turkey with western and Gulf intelligence officials where he pledged to fight ISIS in exchange for a large shipment of new weapons.

    ISIS then put him on a wanted list as a result. Instead of fighting ISIS, Abu Seif simply pledged allegiance to the organization and delivered all the weapons to the ISIS leadership that he had received from his former western and Gulf sponsors.

    US policy makers were aware of this phenomenon, but chose to look the other way, suggesting they were satisfied that their weapons were ending up with jihadists, be they Nusra or ISIS.

    In 2015, The Cradle columnist Sharmine Narwani asked US Central Command spokesman Lieutenant Commander Kyle Raines about why Pentagon-vetted fighters’ weapons were showing up in Nusra’s hands. Raines responded: “We don’t ‘command and control’ these forces—we only ‘train and enable’ them. Who they say they’re allying with, that’s their business.”

    A full year after Obama declared the US military would “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, the organization was at the height of its power, controlling some 50 percent of Syrian territory, including the strategically important Yarmouk refugee camp at the door step of Damascus.

    Patrick Coburn of the Independent reported in September 2015 that “the majority of the 17 million Syrians still in the country live in government-controlled areas now threatened by ISIS. These people are terrified of ISIS occupying their cities, towns and villages because of its reputation for mass executions, ritual mutilation and rape against those not obedient to its extreme variant of Sunni Islam.”

    Russian airpower obstructs US plans

    In the fall of 2015, both ISIS (from its strongholds in Deir Al-Zour and Raqqa) and Nusra (in Idlib and Aleppo) were threatening to conquer Damascus and raise their respective black flags over virtually the entire country.

    At this critical juncture, the Syrian government formally requested intervention from Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to help thwart ISIS’ significant advances by directing Russia’s Air Force to strike the terror group’s capabilities and manpower.

    Despite accelerated CIA shipments of TOW missiles to the FSA and Nusra, it quickly became clear that the tide of the war would soon turn as a result of Russian airpower. The Russian bombing campaign targeted the Salafist insurgency broadly, including ISIS, enabling the Syrian army and allied Iranian-backed ground forces to make crucial gains.

    Had Washington been serious about fighting ISIS, US warplanes would have unleashed a massive bombing campaign against ISIS in 2014 and 2015, as the danger of Damascus falling, and the possible massacre of large numbers of its inhabitants, both religious minorities and Sunnis who supported the government, was very real.

    Instead, despite the terror felt by millions of Syrians, US planners showed their real intentions by viewing the brutal ISIS advance toward Damascus with approval. In a private meeting with members of the Syrian opposition, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that the US had welcomed the 2015 ISIS advance on Damascus, to use it as leverage to force Assad step down from power.

    As Kerry explained, “that is why Russia came in. They didn’t want a Daesh [ISIS] government and they supported AssadAnd we know this was growing. We were watching. We saw that Daesh [ISIS] was growing in strength. And we thought Assad was threatened. We thought we could manage that Assad might then negotiate. Instead of negotiating, he got Putin to support him.”

    US policy pivots

    Shortly after the announcement of the September 2015 Russian intervention, US planners realized that any effort to topple the Syrian government via their jihadi proxies would now likely fail. The leverage that the ISIS threat gave US planners against the Syrian government would soon dissipate due to Russian bombs. Washington had few options left and quickly pivoted, abandoning their ISIS card.

    The US bombing campaign which was previously limited to blocking any ISIS advance only in Kurdish areas, now intensified and transformed into a concerted effort to defeat ISIS militarily.

    The US began to heavily invest in their budding partnership with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to give the US new boots on the ground in the conflict. Rebranded by the Pentagon as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), these US-backed Kurdish forces agreed to participate in Washington’s campaign to conquer as much territory (then under ISIS control) as possible, before Russian and Syrian forces were able to do so.

    This arguably created a “race to Berlin” dynamic resembling the competition between Allied and Soviet forces to conquer Germany from the Nazis in the Second World War.

    While initiating the campaign to defeat ISIS in Raqqa, the US still welcomed any progress the terror group might make against the Syrian government.

    As an example, when Russian and Syrian forces were able to retake Palmyra and liberate it from ISIS in March 2016, the LA Times noted this of White House officials:

    “[They have] difficulty publicly lauding advances against Islamic State by Assad and his allies, including the Russians and Iranians, after years of calling for Assad’s fall” and that the Russian success in combating ISIS created a “dilemma” for US planners, because “Washington has endeavored to portray the battle against Islamic State as a project of the United States and its allies, while accusing Moscow of attacking ‘moderate’ rebels instead of the extremists. Palmyra seems to embody an alternative narrative.”

    US dissatisfaction at the defeat of ISIS in Palmyra was also expressed by State Department spokesperson Mark Toner at a press briefing in March 2016, when Toner refused “to laud” the Syrian and Russian effort to liberate the city.

    With ISIS in decline, the US decided instead to take over large swathes of northeastern Syria from the terror group, including the country’s major energy and grain producing regions, to provide Washington with new leverage against Damascus, which desperately needed these resources to successfully govern and rebuild the country once the war ended.

    US control of these crucial areas would also exacerbate and help maintain the already existing and crushing US economic sanctions on Syria, in the hope of impoverishing Syrians to spur them to turn against the Assad government.

    Conquest masked as liberation

    US and Kurdish forces ultimately succeeded in capturing Raqqa from ISIS in October 2017 while effectively destroying the city and killing large numbers of civilians in one of the most vicious military assaults in recent memory.

    The US military-funded think tank, the Rand Corporation, noted the “shocking level of destruction” caused by the US-SDF assault on Raqqa. As a result, in only four months of fighting, “Raqqa endured the most structural damage by density of any city in Syria,” while “60 to 80 percent of it was estimated to be uninhabitable.”

    According to the Rand researchers, “the battle for Raqqa is a cautionary tale about civilian harm in 21st-century conflicts.” Much of the death and destruction resulted from the decision to encircle the city, which prevented the creation of civilian exit corridors, followed by airstrikes and artillery bombardment of heavily populated urban areas, effectively burying civilians in the basements of their destroyed homes.

    When a ceasefire was finally reached, causing civilians to think they would be evacuated in bus convoys, US planners allowed the remaining ISIS militants to be evacuated instead, after any benefit to civilians by allowing the ISIS fighters to escape had largely already been lost.

    The BBC reported on a “secret deal that let hundreds of IS [ISIS] fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city,” and which included some of ISIS’ “most notorious members.” Presumably, this would allow US planners to resurrect the ISIS card if needed in the future.

    US and Kurdish forces then pushed to the eastern side of the Euphrates River, blocking the advance of the Syrian army, which had successfully defeated ISIS with Russian help in Deir Ezzor and reached as far as the western side of the river.

    US and Kurdish forces continue to occupy Raqqa and northeast Syria at the time of this writing in 2022. The US military presence on Syria’s eastern borders also replaces ISIS’ role to impede Iraqi-Syrian relations, and importantly, to impede an Iranian land route all the way to the borders of occupied Palestine.

    ISIS’s invasion and occupation of key swathes of territory across northern Syria and Iraq served to delineate the borders of areas Washington seeks to control. The US then championed its Kurdish allies to “liberate” those territories.

    “This is conquest masquerading as liberation,” writes Assyrian writer Max Joseph.

    The US military presence also allows Washington to directly control Syria’s strategically important agriculture, oil, and electricity producing regions previously under ISIS control. In this way, the Syrian government is still denied crucial access to the resources needed to rebuild the country and feed its population in the face of crippling US-imposed economic sanctions.

    And the US plunders those resources liberally, in broad daylight. In August, the Syrian oil ministry reported that the US and its Kurdish foot soldiers “steal up to 66,000 barrels every single day from the fields occupied in the eastern region,” accounting for 83 percent of the country’s daily production.

    Pressure from Washington against the Syrian government has therefore been maintained, with the Kurdish-led SDF now fulfilling ISIS’ previous role in implementing US foreign policy in West Asia.

    The Siege of West Asia

    TUESDAY 30 AUG 2022

    Source

    By Tim Anderson

    The one redeeming feature of the US-EU siege of West Asia, one of the worst crimes of the 21st century, is that it is forcing a restructuring of international economic relations, away from a Washington-centred unipolar world.

    With multiple failed or failing wars, Washington and its NATO partners and hangers-on have imposed a genocidal economic siege on a contiguous bloc of seven West Asian countries, between the Mediterranean and the Himalayas.

    The physical blockades on Palestine and Yemen are joined by coercive measures on Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Amongst other things, this brutal regional siege has led to 90% of the Syrian population living in poverty  and the blockaded people of Yemen suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

    The aim in all cases has been ‘to starve and cause desperation’ amongst entire populations – as was said about Washington’s blockades on Cuba and on Iran. The explicit aim is imposing ‘deliberate harm’, in the hope of coercing political change. A key associated aim is to help the zionist colony keep stealing Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese land, and so destabilise and cripple the development of the entire region.

    While much of this siege is imposed in the name of ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’ and ‘anti-terrorism’, none of the NATO allied states of the region – like the Saudis, the UAE and Qatar, who actually finance and arm mass sectarian terrorism – face ‘sanctions’.

    The pretexts for this siege are buried in pseudo-legal inventions. The US Treasury’s OFAC database has lists of dozens of ‘sanctioned’ entities and individuals in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen. There are not many ‘sanctions’ against Afghanistan, after 20 years of US and NATO military occupation. However it is notorious that Washington has seized several billion dollars belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank, simply because the U.S. is dissatisfied with the current Afghan government. That is certainly a big factor in the looming mass starvation of millions of people in that unfortunate West Asian country.

    So what are sanctions and when can they be justified? In international law two principles are said to limit a state’s retaliation against others: that the response should be ‘in proportion’ to an alleged action by the other; and that any reprisal only comes after attempts at negotiation.

    But retaliation is unlawful when (1) the aim is to damage the economy of another nation, or there is (2) an attempt at political coercion or (3) the measures imposed also damage the rights of third parties. All these illegal elements are at work in Washington’s current regional siege. Such unilateral ‘sanctions’ are now termed ‘unilateral coercive measures’ (UCMs) and subject to special scrutiny at the United Nations.

    For some time international agencies have reported on the catastrophic impact of this siege, for example in Syria and Yemen. Despite the theoretical ‘humanitarian’ exemptions in both US and European coercive measures, the U.S. strangle hold on finance means there is severe impact on essentials such as food, medicine and energy.

    The W.H.O. has reported that unilateral US-EU ‘sanctions’ damage children’s cancer treatment in Syria. Medical studies have condemned Europe’s coercive ‘sanctions’ for their damage to COVID-19 prevention and treatment in Syria, while the UN rapporteur on the impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures, Ms Alena Douhan, has called for an end to Washington’s UCMs which inhibit the rebuilding of Syria’s civilian infrastructure, destroyed by the conflict. “The sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people, whose country has been destroyed by almost 10 years of ongoing conflict,” said Ms Douhan.

    Washington’s anti-Syrian ‘Caesar Law’ was also condemned as it attempts to block third party support for the Syrian population. “I am concerned that sanctions imposed under the Caesar Act may exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in the course of COVID-19 pandemic, and put the Syrian people at even greater risk of human rights violations,” she said.

    Siege measures on north African countries have come under similar criticism. In 2015 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the impact of ‘sanctions’ on human rights, Idriss Jazairy, urged States which have imposed UCMs on Sudan to review their policies. “Sudan has been under unilateral coercive measures for two decades without any adaptation .. The signal given by compulsory measures is in contradiction with their proclaimed objectives” he said, referring to the financial restrictions imposed on all business transactions with Sudan.

    In Yemen, the rational is a little different. The US-EU ‘Sanctions’ which sustain the humanitarian crisis are carried out with direct approval by the UN Security Council, under the misguided idea that an interim president from 2014 (Mansour Hadi, in exile in Saudi Arabia for the last seven years) is still the legitimate President of the country. The actual revolutionary government (the only successful revolution of the so-called Arab Spring) led by Ansarallah (disparagingly referred to as ‘Houthi rebels’) is under UNSC sanctions. So the siege on Yemen is authorised under international law, unlike the UCMs against Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

    Nevertheless, a UN body has said that the western powers and their Persian Gulf allies (especially the Saudis and the U.A.E.) waging war on Yemen should be held responsible for war crimes. That 2019 report detailed a range of war crimes over the previous five years, including airstrikes, indiscriminate shelling, snipers, landmines, as well as arbitrary killings and detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and impeding access to humanitarian aid.

    This writer has previously argued that the UN Security Council has betrayed the people of Yemen, exacerbating ‘the world’s ‘worst humanitarian crisis’ by demonising and sanctioning the revolutionary government while backing a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) puppet.

    UCM regimes, now so popular with the USA and the European Union, have been condemned by independent UN experts for violating international law and for impeding the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. While UCMs are “imposed mostly in the name of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”, Rapporteur Douhan concludes they actually “undermine those very principles, values and norms” while inflicting humanitarian damage.

    The one redeeming feature of the US-EU siege of West Asia, one of the worst crimes of the 21st century, is that it is forcing a restructuring of international economic relations, away from a Washington-centred unipolar world. In future the BRICS bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and allied groups will play a much greater role.

    Biden Regime Behind Phony Charges Against Pakistan’s Imran Khan

    08-22-2022

     Stephen Lendman

    Last April, Biden regime dirty hands were behind a parliamentary no-confidence vote to oust Imran Khan as Pakistan’s PM.

    What happened was all about his commitment to serve Pakistan’s interests over US ones, to stay neutral on Russia’s SMO in Ukraine, and maintain Islamabad’s independence over vassalage to a higher power in Washington.

    US puppet, Shehbaz Sharif, was illegitimately installed as PM to replace Khan.

    That’s where things now stand, his regime’s agenda shaped by hegemon USA.

    It includes prevention of legitimate attempts by Khan to regain the office from which hegemon USA orchestrated his ouster — by whatever it takes to achieve this diabolical aim.

    On Sunday, the puppet Sharif regime falsely charged Khan with violating Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism (Act) — for allegedly “threatening” a female judge and senior police officers at a public rally.

    So-called Pakistani interior minister, Rana Sanaullah, also called for Khan to be prosecuted for allegedly making “derogatory” remarks about Pakistani military Shuhada (martyrs).

    Khan said the following at a Sunday rally:

    “On May 25, when police used violence against us, I was told by insiders that (what happened was) ordered from above.”

    This “means that neutrals pressured them to give…workers (of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party — PTI — he foundered and heads as chairman) a thrashing.” 

    Referring to the country’s military, he questioned whether its “neutrals were really neutral” — that in cahoots with the Biden regime, they’re involved in cracking down on him and his PTI party, adding:

    “I know what their plan is.”

    It’s all about removing him from the political scene by prosecuting and imprisoning him on false charges, along with sidelining his PTI party, rendering it powerless.

    Until targeted by Biden regime dark forces, likely CIA ones, the PTI was Pakistan’s “biggest party at the federal level,” Khan explained, adding:

    His chief of staff, Shahbaz Gill, was kidnapped, abused and heavily pressured to give false testimony against him.

    According to Dawn.com, Khan’s public addresses are now banned on television — on the phony pretext of making controversial remarks (sic) about judges and police officials.

    Google’s YouTube acted in similar fashion to silence his truth-telling.

    On Sunday, senior PTI leader, Shireen Mazari, tweeted the following:

    “Regime change conspirators so scared of Imran Khan that today in middle of IK speech they blocked YouTube thru PTA. Shameful!””This will not silence us.”

    “Fascism at its peak as fear overwhelms the cabal of crooks & their string pullers!”

    “THE WORD IS CERTAINLY MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD.”

    Separately, she explained that police ceased providing security for Khan and his residence.

    In his Saturday evening address, he threatened legal action against  Islamabad’s police inspector general and deputy inspector general, adding:

    Greatly biased against him for contrived reasons, the judiciary and judge Zeba Chaudhry will face consequences for their actions.  

    Late Sunday, Pakistani police erected barricades outside Khan’s Banigala residence to isolate him from supporters.

    After his Sunday address, he was reportedly at an undisclosed Rawalpindi location — while thousands of supporters were outside his residence to express support.

    Phony charges against Khan in a so-called First Investigation Report (FIR) said the following:

    His public remarks “spread fear and uncertainty among the police, judges and the nation.”

    It calls for “exemplary punishment.”

    At this time, Khan faces arrest, a kangaroo show trial, rubber-stamp conviction and imprisonment for truth-telling on phony terrorism-related charges.

    Earlier, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner said there are over 17,000 pending cases under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act, adding:

    It’s “broad definition…coupled with failure to introduce clear guidelines or administrative policies to prevent its arbitrary application, contributed to the overuse, misuse and abuse of this legislation.”

    Since his made-in-the-USA no-confidence vote removal from office as Pakistan’s PM, Khan organized and addressed well-attended rallies to set the record straight on what’s going on in the country.

    It’s why the empire of lies and puppet Pakistani regime it empowered wants him silenced — most likely the old-fashioned way if what’s going on now fails or falls short.

    The Stephen Lendman Blog

    Biden Regime Behind Phony Charges Against Pakistan’s Imran Khan?

    by Stephen Lendman

    Last April, Biden regime dirty hands were behind a parliamentary no-confidence vote — a coup by other means — to oust Imran Khan as Pakistan’s PM.

    What happened was all about his commitment to serve Pakistan’s interests over US ones, to stay neutral on Russia’s SMO in Ukraine, and maintain Islamabad’s independence over vassalage to a higher power in Washington.

    US puppet, Shehbaz Sharif, was illegitimately installed as PM to replace Khan.

    That’s where things now stand, his regime’s agenda shaped by hegemon USA.

    It includes prevention of legitimate attempts by Khan to regain the office from which hegemon USA orchestrated his ouster — by whatever it takes to achieve this diabolical aim.

    On Sunday, the puppet Sharif regime falsely charged Khan with violating Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism (Act) — for allegedly “threatening” a female judge and senior police officers…

    View original post 530 more words

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