‘Hysterical and Stupid’: Kushner Reveals His Attitude Towards the Palestinians

Wayne Madsen
July 12, 2019
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Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and the person Trump appointed to broker a Middle East peace agreement recently called Palestinians “hysterical and stupid.” That is particularly galling language coming from a notorious New Jersey, New York, and Maryland slumlord and the son of a federally convicted criminal. Kushner’s father and real estate mogul, Charles Kushner, spent fourteen months in prison after being convicted of tax fraud and witness tampering, among other crimes. Jared Kushner believes his father was wrongly convicted and imprisoned. But the wunderkind son-in-law of Trump has no problem in maintaining the status quo in the Middle East, one that has led to the large-scale incarceration of the people of the Gaza Strip in virtual desert ghetto.

Mr. Kushner does not have the business acumen to run a New York City sandwich cart, let alone a major foreign policy initiative like a final Middle East peace agreement. Such a concordat has eluded a every US president since the creation of Israel in 1948. Kushner’s real estate bankruptcies are legendary, and they have resulted in him and his father panhandling for loan relief financing from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and China, among other countries.

In the wake of Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan unveiled at a workshop in Bahrain in June of this year, government officials around the world reacted with an almost-unanimous thumbs down. The Bahrain conference more resembled a meeting of potential investors in one of Kushner’s real estate scams. The Palestinians, claiming that to present an economic plan for the Palestinian territories prior to a political settlement, boycotted the Bahrain conclave. Under the “Kushner Plan,” Gaza was to become a tourist resort with transport routes through Israel to the West Bank. No mention was made of the crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockades imposed on the densely populated Gaza enclave of 1.8 million people. Kushner displayed his utter ignorance of geo-politics, history, and diplomacy when he said Palestinians would reap a financial whirlwind of real estate development and tourism investment money if “there’s not a fear of people doing terrorism.” Doing terrorism? In Kushner’s pampered rich kid myopic view of the world, “doing terrorism” is like “doing lunch” or “doing a Broadway show.”

Participating in Kushner’s gabfest, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that Kushner’s roll-out was like a “hot IPO,” an initial public offering of shares in a company. Seasoned Middle East experts, including diplomats and scholars, were far less enthusiastic, with one likening Kushner’s conference to a Monty Python sketch.

Kushner also lambasted the Palestinian leadership for saying “crazy things.” The son-in-law of the man who, on a daily basis, says and tweets “crazy things” believes that it is “crazy” for Palestinian leaders to condemn Israeli expansion into East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. In fact, “crazy” was Trump ordering the moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, shuttering the US Consulate General in Jerusalem that served as the de facto US mission in Palestine, cutting off all US economic assistance to the Palestinians, closing the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Syria’s Golan Heights.

Kushner called the Palestinians “stupid and hysterical.” However, nothing exemplifies hysterical and stupid more than Kushner family friend Binyamin Netanyahu, who once stood before the United Nations General Assembly and displayed a cartoon drawing of a bomb to “prove” that Iran was nearing development of a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu’s histrionics before the world assembly was not the first time he resorted to gimmickry and lying in order to tick off a list of favorite Zionist talking points.

Kushner does not appreciate the hyper-hysterical nature of Israel and its supporters, of which he is one. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement targeting Israel’s racist and expansionist policies has resulted in hysterical extreme measures aimed at undercutting constitutional and other inherent freedoms of speech in other countries. These anti-free speech actions have been advanced by Kushner’s friends and colleagues and include twenty-eight American states enacting legislation that bans individuals and companies supporting BDS from receiving state government contracts. Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, is actively working to disrupt the global BDS movement, including the operations of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

The anti-BDS campaign includes Mossad collecting intelligence on BDS operations in foreign countries and placing BDS leaders and supporters on INTERPOL and EUROPOL watch lists. Kushner’s Zionist friends have even spoken of Israel filing lawsuits against BDS organizations and individuals abroad. There was little surprise when Mossad’s anti-BDS activities in the United States were linked to the now-defunct Israeli private intelligence firm PSY-Group and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Kushner can whine all day long about Palestinians being “hysterical.” No one is more hysterical and hypocritical than Kushner and his Orthodox Jewish cabal that includes the dodgy Chabad movement – which has been tied into everything from drug and human organ trafficking to tax evasion and money laundering, as well as the 2020 presidential campaign of New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker. No sooner had New England Patriots football owner and Trump Mar-a-Lago club member Robert Kraft beat a criminal charge of soliciting prostitution from a Florida massage parlor employing Chinese indentured employees, he donated his $1 million Genesis Prize – Israel’s version of the Nobel Prize – to the anti-BDS movement. That kind of money would have paid for quite a lot of $57 “sessions” at Kraft’s favorite, but now closed, Florida massage parlor. Even though Kraft was dumb enough to get caught on video tape in a law enforcement sting on illegal prostitution activities, Kushner claims it is the Palestinians who are “stupid.”

Recently, Kushner’s friends in Israel and Germany forced the resignation of Dr. Peter Schäfer, a foremost scholar of Judaic Studies, as director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum. Using Inquisition-like tactics, Schäfer stood accused by Israel supporters of backing the BDS movement by tweeting a link to a letter signed by 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars opposing a bill passed by the German parliament that linked the BDS movement to anti-Semitism. The campaign against Dr. Schäfer was centered on the activities of an Israel-based organization called NGO Monitor. The group, which is nothing more than a cipher for Mossad, targets international non-governmental organizations tagged with being supportive of the Palestinians or the BDS movement.

Under pressure from such anti-democratic forces as NGO Monitor; its Geneva-based companion, UN Watch; the American Jewish Committee; and similar repugnant pressure organizations, the freedom of speech rights of pro-Palestine activists have been severely hampered by actions of the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and other nations.

Mr. Kushner and his friends who gathered in Bahrain for his real estate development (land theft) prospectus seminar would trick the world into believing that it is the Palestinians who are “hysterical.” When international supporters of the Palestinians decide to hit the Israelis where it hurts the most – their wallets – all one can hear from the offices and board rooms of Tel Aviv, West Jerusalem, Haifa, Ashkelon, Eilat, Ramat Gan, New York, and other centers of Israeli commerce and intrigue is loud wailing and promises to “get even.” And Kushner accuses the Palestinians of being “hysterical.”

In fact, the Palestinians have been quite measured in response to Israel’s overt and covert campaigns against them and their inalienable rights. Since Trump and Kushner launched their diplomatic, political, and economic warfare against Palestine, the State of Palestine has been recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency and Colombia; Italy voted for a UN Security Council for a resolution that opposed the US movement of its embassy to Jerusalem; the UN’s Group of 77 (G77) developing nations invited Palestine to chair the group’s meeting during 2019; Spain’s Josep Borell, who is pro-Palestinian and tough on Israel, was named the next Foreign Affairs Commissioner of the European Union; and former US President Jimmy Carter called on the United States to recognize Palestinian sovereignty. These small but significant advances on behalf of the Palestinians were achieved as a result of Palestine’s commitment to diplomacy, not the hysteria practiced by Kushner and his friends in Israel, as well as by pro-Israel embeds found throughout the Trump administration.

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The Day After: What Happens If Israel Annexes the West Bank?

The Day After: What Happens If Israel Annexes the West Bank?

Annexing the West Bank, along with millions of Palestinians, will multiply the very ‘demographic threat’ Israel has been dreading for years.

Calls for the annexation of the Occupied West Bank are gaining momentum in both Tel Aviv and Washington. But Israel and its American allies should be careful what they wish for. Annexing the Occupied Palestinian Territories will only reinforce the current rethink of the Palestinian strategy, as opposed to solving Israel’s self-induced problems.

Encouraged by the Donald Trump administration’s decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israeli government officials feel that the time for annexing the entirety of the West Bank is now.

In fact, “there is no better time than now” was the exact phrase used by former Israeli Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, as she promoted annexation at a recent New York conference. 

Certainly, it is election season in Israel again, as Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, failed to form a government following the last elections in April. So much saber-rattling happens during such political campaigns, as candidates talk tough in the name of ‘security’, fighting terrorism, and so on.

But Shaked’s comments cannot be dismissed as fleeting election kerfuffle. They represent so much more if understood within the larger political context.

Indeed, since Trump’s advent to the White House, Israel has never – and I mean, never – had it so easy. It is as if the rightwing government’s most radical agenda became a wish list for Israel’s allies in Washington. This list includes the US recognition of Israel’s illegal annexation of Occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem, of the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights, and the dismissalof the Palestinian refugees’ right of return altogether.

But that is not all. Statements made by influential US officials indicate an initial interest in the outright annexation of the Occupied West Bank or, at least, large parts of it. The latest of such calls were made by US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

“Israel has the right to retain some  … of the West Bank,” Friedman said in an interview, cited in the New York Times on June 8.

US Israel Pompeo Friedman West Bank Annexation

Pompeo and Friedman next to the dedication plaque at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, March 21, 2019. Jim Young | AP

Friedman is deeply involved in the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, a political gambit championed mostly by Trump’s top advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The apparent idea behind this ‘deal’ is to dismiss the core demands of the Palestinians while reassuring Israel regarding its quest for a demographic majority and ‘security’ concerns.

Other US officials behind Washington’s efforts on behalf of Israel include US Special Envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, and former US Ambassador to the UN, Nicki Haley. In a recent interview with the Israeli rightwing newspaper, Israel Hayom, Haley said that the Israeli government “should not be worried” regarding the yet-to-be fully revealed details of the ‘Deal of the Century.’

Knowing Haley’s love-affair with – and brazen defense of – Israel at the United Nations, it should not be too difficult to fathom the subtle and obvious meaning of her words.

This is why Shaked’s call for the annexation of the West Bank cannot be dismissed as typical election season talk.

But can Israel annex the West Bank?

 

More than a pipedream?

Practically speaking, yes, it can. True, it would be a flagrant violation of international law, but such a notion has never irked Israel, nor stopped it from annexing Palestinian or Arab territories. For example, it occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in 1980 and 1981 respectively.

Moreover, the political mood in Israel is increasingly receptive to such a step. A poll conducted by the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, last March revealed that 42% of Israelis back West Bank annexation. This number is expected to rise in the following months as Israel continues to move to the right.

West Bank Annexation Poll

Credit | Haaretz

It is also important to note that several steps have already been taken in that direction, including the Israeli Knesset’s (parliament) decision to apply the same civil laws to illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank as to those living in Israel.

But that is where Israel faces its greatest dilemma.

According to a joint poll conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in August 2018, over 50% of Palestinians realize that a so-called two-state solution is no longer tenable. Moreover, a growing number of Palestinians also believe that co-existence in a single state, where Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs (Muslims and Christians, alike) live side by side, is the only possible formula for a better future.

The dichotomy for Israeli officials, who are keen on maintaining Jewish demographic majority and the marginalization of Palestinian rights, is that they no longer have good options.

First, they understand that the indefinite occupation of Palestinian territories cannot be sustained. Ongoing Palestinian resistance at home, and the rise of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement abroad is challenging Israel’s very political legitimacy across the world.

Second, they must also be aware of the fact that, from an Israeli Jewish leaders’ point of view, annexing the West Bank, along with millions of Palestinians, will multiply the very ‘demographic threat’ that they have been dreading for many years.

Third, the ethnic cleansing of whole Palestinian communities – the so-called ‘transfer’ option – as Israel has done upon its founding in 1948, and again, in 1967, is no longer possible. Neither will Arab countries open their borders for Israel’s convenient genocides, nor will Palestinians leave, however high the price. The fact that Gazans remained put, despite years of siege and brutal wars, is a case in point.

Political grandstanding aside, Israeli leaders understand that they are no longer in the driver’s seat and, despite their military and political advantage over Palestinians, it is becoming clear that firepower and Washington’s blind support are no longer enough to determine the future of the Palestinian people.

It is also clear that the Palestinian people are not, and never were, passive actors in their own fate. If Israel maintains its 52-year old Occupation, Palestinians will continue to resist. That resistance will not be weakened, or quelled, by any decision to annex the West Bank, in part or in full, the same way that Palestinian resistance in Jerusalem did not cease since its illegal annexation by Tel Aviv four decades ago.

Finally, the illegal annexation of the West Bank can only contribute to the irreversible awareness among Palestinians that their fight for freedom, human rights, justice and equality can be better served through a civil rights struggle within the borders of one single democratic state.

In her blind arrogance, Shaked and her rightwing ilk are only accelerating the demise of Israel as an ethnic, racist state, while opening up the stage for better possibilities than perpetual violence and apartheid.

Feature photo | US National Security Advisor John Bolton (L) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) guided by Israeli army Major General Nadav Padan (L) at the Qasr al-Yahud baptism site at the Jordan Valley near the Palestinian city of Jericho, West Bank, June 23, 2019. Abir Sultan | EPA via AP

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a widely published and translated author, an internationally syndicated columnist and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter (2015), and was a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB. Visit his website at  www.ramzybaroud.net.

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

Yet Another Senator from Israel: Cory Booker shines at AIPAC

Yet Another Senator from Israel: Cory Booker shines at AIPAC

No holds barred: Cory Booker gushes that there is no “greater moral vandalism” than dividing the US and Israel; he would cut off his right hand before abandoning Israel
Giraldi sums up presidential hopeful Cory Booker: “a complete sell-out to Israel and its Jewish supporters” who tries to be “more Israeli than the Israelis.” Booker claims that there is “no greater moral vandalism than abandoning Israel,” and swears to give Israel even more money.

by Philip Giraldi, the Unz Review

How do you take a typical progressive and turn him or her into a fascist? One possible way is to send the poor bastard off on an all expenses paid trip to Israel where a meticulously crafted and sophisticated brainwashing program will make one believe almost anything regarding the noble and God-chosen Israelis versus the satanic Arab terrorists. Add into that the fact that being pro-Israel is a plus in many career fields and it is easy to understand why a monster like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gets favorable press and commentary in the United States even as he is reviled in most of the rest of the world.

The liberal to fascist metamorphosis is most evident among Democratic Party politicians, who have been successfully targeted by the Israel Lobby and its deep pocketed supporters for many years. It is all part of a massive public relations campaign, which some might instead refer to as disinformation, planned and executed by the Israeli foreign ministry and its diaspora supporters to advance Israeli interests in spite of the fact that the government of Netanyahu has implemented and executed fundamentally anti-democratic programs while at the same time committing war crimes and violating a whole series of United Nations resolutions.

Israel works hard to influence the United States at all levels. Its tentacles dig deep, now extending to local and state government levels where candidates for office can expect to be grilled by Jewish constituents regarding their views on the Middle East. The constituents often insist that the responses be provided in writing. The candidates being grilled understand perfectly well that their answers will determine what kind of press coverage and level of donations they will receive in return.

One-way trip

One of the most blatant propaganda programs is the sponsorship of free “educational” trips to Israel for all newly elected congressmen and spouses. The trips are normally led by Israel boosters in Congress like Democratic House Speaker Steny Hoyer, who recently boasted at an AIPAC gathering how he has done 15 trips to Israel and is now preparing to do another with 30 Democratic congressmen, including nearly all of those who are newly elected.

The congressional trips are carefully coordinated with the Israeli government and are both organized and paid for by an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). Other trips sponsored by AIEF as well as by other Jewish organizations include politicians at state and even local levels as well as journalists who write about foreign policy.

As noted above, all the trips to Israel are carefully choreographed to present a polished, completely Israel-slanted point of view on contentious issues. Visits to Palestinian areas are arranged selectively to avoid any contact with actual Arabs. Everyone is expected to return and sing the praises of the wonderful little democracy in the Middle East, which is of course a completely false description as Israel is a militarized ethno-theocratic kleptocracy headed by a group of corrupt right-wing fanatics who also happen to be racists.

Even progressive politicians who are aware that the Israeli message is bogus and also resent the heavy handedness of the Israelis and their diaspora friends often decide that it is better to go along for the ride rather than resist. But some embrace it enthusiastically, like Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a liberal Democrat running for his party’s nomination for president, who has, by his own admission, visited Israel many times. Israel and its friends are, of course, both courting and promoting him assiduously.

Booker inevitably reminds one of ex-President Barack Obama because he is black but the similarity goes beyond that as he is also presentable, well-spoken and slick in his policy pronouncements. One suspects that like Obama he would say one thing to get elected while doing something else afterwards, but we Americans have become accustomed to that in our presidents.

More to the point, Booker was and is a complete sell-out to Israel and its Jewish supporters during his not completely successful career in New Jersey as mayor of Newark as well as in his bid for the presidential nomination. Booker is a close friend of the controversial “America’s rabbi” Shmuley Boteach and has taught himself enough Hebrew to pop out sentences from Torah with Jewish audiences.

In his own words

Last week the Intercept published a secret recording of Booker meeting with a group of Jews from New Jersey at the recently concluded AIPAC summit in Washington, which Booker, unlike a number of other Democratic presidential hopefuls, attended enthusiastically. Booker pandered so assiduously that it is hard to believe that he actually knows what he is saying in an effort to be more Israeli than the Israelis. He described an Israel that deserves total commitment from Washington and stated clearly that he wants to create a “unified front” against the nonviolent boycott movement (BDS). He said that there is “no greater moral vandalism than abandoning Israel.”

Phil Weiss on Mondoweiss sums up the high points of what Booker said and did not say in the meeting: “Donald Trump is endangering Israel’s security in Syria; there is no ‘greater moral vandalism’ than dividing the U.S. and Israel; Booker would cut off his right hand before abandoning Israel; he lobbied black congresspeople not to boycott Netanyahu’s 2015 speech because we need to show a ‘united front’ with Israel; AIPAC is an ‘incredible… great’ organization whose mission is urgent now because of rising anti-Semitism; he ‘text messages back and forth like teenagers’ with AIPAC’s president Mort Fridman; and he swears to uphold bipartisan support in the Congress for Israel and give it even more money.

And Booker says not one word about Palestinian human rights or Israel’s persecution of Palestinians. That’s right. A progressive senator who invokes Martin Luther King Jr. over and over again has not one word to say about the Jim Crow status of Palestinians while describing Israel as a ‘country that I love so deeply, that changed my life from the day I went there as a 24 year old.’”

“If I forget thee, O Israel”

Booker elaborated in his own words: “Israel is not political to me. It’s not political. I was a supporter of Israel well before I was a United States Senator. I was coming to AIPAC conferences well before I knew that one day I would be a federal officer. If I forget thee, o Israel, may I cut off my right hand.”

Booker described how he is appalled by the rise of alleged anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. and worldwide. Rather than using that possible development as leverage to get Israel to behave more humanely, he instead prefers to punish all Americans with new legislation intended to strip all everyone of their First Amendment rights. Per Booker “We must take acts on a local stage against vicious acts that target Israel. That’s why I’m cosponsor of Senate Bill 720. Israel anti-Boycott Act.”

Normally progressive Booker, who has criticized the endless war in Afghanistan on the campaign trail, has hypocritically condemned Trump for not continuing war in Syria to protect Israel, saying

“This administration’s seeming willingness to pull away from Syria makes it more dangerous to us, makes it more dangerous to Israel, and this is not sound policy…. When you’re tweeting about pulling out of Syria within days, when that would create a vacuum that would not only endanger the United States of America but it would endanger our ally Israel as well.

We need a comprehensive strategy for that region because Israel’s neighborhood is getting more dangerous than less. Syria is becoming a highway for Iran to move more precision guided missiles to Hezbollah. There has got to be a strategy in this country to support Israel that is bipartisan that is wise and that frankly calls upon all the resources of this country, not just military”.

And because Israel always needs more money, Booker is ready to deliver: “Unequivocally 100 percent absolutely [yes] to the 3.3 billion [a year]. I have been on the front lines every time an MOU is up to make sure Israel gets the funding it needs. I even pushed for more funding.”

Our president?

Do we need a man like Cory Booker as President of the United States? He is articulate enough to cite “moral vandalism” but not perceptive enough to take the concept one step further and appreciate that uncritical close ties to Israel’s feckless and fascist government could easily lead to a nuclear war that would constitute something far worse. He further believes that Israel’s hand deep in the U.S. Treasury is a desirable policy, that unlimited “all resources” support of Israel is a U.S. national imperative, that ending the continued American military presence in the Middle East “would endanger our ally” Israel, and that moves to nonviolently oppose Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians must be made illegal.

One does not see an actual American interest in any of that, but perhaps special spectacles made in Israel are needed, an environment where Booker has clearly spent a great deal of time both physically and metaphorically. Or maybe it’s the Benjamins. Booker will need millions of dollars to mount his campaign and he knows where to go and what he needs to say to get it.

One struggles to see just a tiny bit of humanity in Booker vis-à-vis the Arabs who have lost their homes and livelihoods to Israeli criminality, but none of that comes through in a session in which, admittedly, the Senator from New Jersey is speaking with his Jewish donor/supporters. Booker is on record favoring an Israel-Palestine “two state solution,” which is no longer viable, though he has not objected to Israeli army snipers shooting dead children, journalists, medical personnel and unarmed protesters in Gaza.

Frankly, we already have an American leader who puts Israel first in Donald Trump and we don’t need another round of wag the dog in our next president. Cory Booker should work hard to maintain his perfect attendance record at AIPAC as he texts “like a teenager” with Mort Fridman, but maybe someday he will actually grow up and learn to think for himself. As he is a U.S. Senator that certainly is something we might all hope for.


Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.


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The Palestinian Political Scene is in a State of Paralysis: “The People Reject Normalization with Israel”

An Interview with Abdel Bari Atwan

Global Research, April 01, 2019

American Herald Tribune 18 March 2019

Mohsen Abdelmoumen: What is your analysis of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Gaza?

Abdel Bari Atwan: The Palestinian political scene is in a state of paralysis, which is a direct consequence of the disastrous Oslo process. Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is not in good health, so the stage is now set for the post-Abu Mazen period. But nobody has a roadmap for where to go. Abu Mazen is the last of the founding fathers, and his departure will cause the Fateh movement to fragment and lose influence, as happened to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) after the death of George Habash. So chaos and confusion prevail. I wouldn’t be surprised if people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip draw inspiration from the demonstrations in Sudan and Algeria.

MA: What about the Palestinians’ right of return to their lands stolen since 1948 and the deal of the century that removes the Palestinian right of return? Has the deal of the century been abandoned or is it still valid?

ABA: The ‘Deal of the Century’ cannot be pulled off. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi consigned it to an early death, as it plunged the deal’s broker into crisis. No Palestinian could accept it anyway. The Palestinian Revolution began in the refugee camps. It was all about the right of return. To abandon it would be to abandon the Palestinian cause. That right and others cannot be bought off with promises of investment or improved economic conditions, as the deal proposes. Palestine is not Northern Ireland.

MA: How do you explain that at the moment when in Europe and in the USA, we see rising a great critical movement of Israel, like the BDS which advocate different forms of boycott, Arab countries are normalizing their relations with the Zionist and criminal entity of Israel?

ABA: These moves towards normalization are not too worrying, as they are confined to the governments and do not extend to the peoples.The peoples reject normalization with Israel, as the cases of Jordan and Egypt show. It’s the same in every other Arab country. Israel is alarmed by BDS and how it may develop in future. This explains its frenetic efforts to brand all criticism and opposition anywhere in the world as anti-Semitic: it fears to become a pariah state and the only way it can avoid that is to criminalize and close down exposure and discussion of its behavior.

MA: What is your reading of the Warsaw conference of February 13 and 14, when we saw the alliance between Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain, etc. and the Zionist and criminal entity Israel against Iran?

ABA: The Warsaw Conference was a one-man show, starring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was staged for his benefit, but I believe it was a failure. Its original purpose was to launch a new US-led alliance — a so-called ‘Arab Nato’ — that would act as the spearhead of an international coalition against Iran and include Israel as a member, probably informally at first. But the Gulf States that the US is trying to turn into allies of Israel are not representative of the Arab world as a whole. They account for less than 5% of the Arab population, and their own peoples overwhelmingly reject normalization with Israel. In recent years these states have been able to play a dominant role in the Arab world due to their oil wealth and their manipulation of political Islam. But political Islam has been changing in nature, and the importance of oil in the global energy picture has been declining, so their ‘golden age’ is drawing to a close.

MA: How did we get to the fact that some Arab countries come to betray and sell themselves to the Zionist and criminal entity of Israel?

ABA: It’s not new, and mainly it’s a matter of perceived self-preservation. Regimes see the goodwill of the US as vital, and Israel as the key to the US’ heart. They talk about a shared interest in confronting Iran but that shouldn’t be taken at face value. Israel talks up the Iranian threat as a way of trying to sideline the Palestinian cause, and the Gulf States do the same to bolster the rule of their regimes. This also entails the poisonous fuelling of Sunni-Shii sectarianism.

MA: I did an investigation a few years ago about the activities of the Israeli lobby in Congo. What is your reading of Israel’s strategic redeployment in Africa?

ABA: Africa is currently an arena of rivalry for influence and competing interests involving many countries – the US, China, Turkey, Israel, Russia, and others. Israel does not have much to offer Africa, other than political influence in Washington. It is eager to establish a presence and exert influence on the periphery of important Arab countries like Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt.These countries are all in a weakened state at present and preoccupied with internal problems. But they will eventually recover and their governments will awaken. Sub-Saharan Africa is their natural hinterland and they cannot be prized apart in the long term.

MA: The people of Yemen is experiencing a criminal war waged by Saudi Arabia and its allies in total silence. How do you explain this silence of the international community and the media?

Abdel Bari Atwan 1 48e65

ABA: The West turned a blind eye to the Yemen war when it was launched four years ago because of Saudi influence and interests. It gave Saudi Arabia a chance to resolve the conflict in its favor. But neither Saudi Arabia nor the West appreciated the nature of Yemen or its people into account. They should have heeded the advice of the kingdom’s founder, King Abdelaziz, who ordered his sons Faisal and Saud to withdraw when they tried to invade the country. The latest war on Yemen has had a catastrophic effect, but in military terms, it has been a failure. The international silence is now beginning to be broken, and I hope that continues.

MA: What is your reading of events happening in Venezuela? Do you think that the United States will come to a direct military intervention?

ABA: What is happening in Venezuela is a US-sponsored coup attempt and I believe it will fail.

MA: There is no longer any mention of the Khashoggi case, which showed the true face of the Saudi regime and raised a worldwide outcry. How do you explain that?

ABA: The Khashoggi case is closely linked to Trump’s fate. Trump’s opponents in the US seized on it as a stick with which to beat him, due to his close association with the current Saudi leadership. That’s why there was such an outcry over the killing, however horrific, on an individual, but no similar reaction to Saudi actions that caused thousands of deaths such as the war on Yemen (until recently) and the proxy intervention in Syria. It should not be any surprise, however, that US and Western interests ultimately prevailed over human rights concerns, in this case like so many others. The Israel Lobby has also played a part in suppressing the outcry.  But the affair will have a longer-term impact. It laid bare Saudi Arabia’s high-handedness and dominance in the region.

MA: How do you analyze the events taking place in Algeria against the fifth term of Bouteflika?

ABA: The protests were not so much against Bouteflika as against the ruling elite that was using him as a front and was too divided to agree on a replacement for him, long after he should have been allowed to retire. The powers-that-be made three mistaken assumptions: first, that the fifth term could be pushed through; second, that Algerians would rather have stability than democracy; and third, that the terrifying memory of the bloody decade of the 1990s would deter demonstrations or protests, for fear of repeating what happened in Syria or Libya. They seemed to think, perhaps based on Syria’s experience, that concessions are a slippery slope and not compromising pays off in the longer term. But now they have had to give at least the appearance of backing down due to the strength of popular feeling. The question now is what comes next: a measure of genuine but controlled reform as in Morocco or an Egyptian-style scenario where the army runs things behind a facade of pro-forma elections?

MA: Intelligence reports indicate a redeployment of Daesh to Libya. Can we end the terrorism of Daesh and Al Qaeda without really fighting the ideological matrix of these groups? Is it enough defeating these groups militarily?

ABA: Daesh is finished above ground in the Arab world. But it will continue to exist underground because the conditions that incubated still exist. In my view, the challenge is not so much to fight the ideology as to address those conditions. The ideology, or at least its adoption or acceptance in some places and by some people, is a product of these ‘failed-state’ conditions and the marginalization they cause. In many cases – Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen – they are a consequence, in whole or in part, of direct or indirect Western military intervention. Putting an end to these interventions would be a step to tackling the problem.

MA: Are we not witnessing the continuation of the Cold War between the US administration on one side and Russia and China on the other? How do you explain the need for the United States to have an enemy?

ABA: The US can’t sleep unless it has an enemy. It has become an obsession, though creating or talking up external enemies has always been a means of advancing the interests of domestic power elites.But the picture is changing. America is no longer rules the world in matters of war and peace. Its real power is not its military might but the US Dollar. Its abuse of its financial and commercial power has become so extensive that an international alliance is taking shape to deprive it of this weapon.

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Abdel Bari Atwan is a Palestinian journalist born in 1950 in Deir al-Balah, a Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He lived in a family of 11 children. After graduating from primary school in the refugee camp, he continued his studies in Jordan. He then studied journalism at Cairo University. After working for many Arab newspapers, he ran until 2013 al-Quds al-Arabi, a newspaper he founded in London in 1989 with other Palestinian expatriates. Today, he is the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, an Arab world digital news and opinion website. He lives and works in London.

Mohsen Abdelmoumen is an independent Algerian journalist. He wrote in several Algerian newspapers such as Alger Républicain and in different sites of the alternative press.

All images in this article are from American Herald Tribune

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Serious question: What is Zionism?

April 01, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

Introduction by GA: In the following  article John Carville digs into the belly of the beast. He questions the validity of the dichotomy between the ‘J’ and the ‘Z.’  He calls to launch a critical study of different aspects of Jewish culture, politics, identity and power. In 2011 I published The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics. The book was denounced by Zionists and Jewish anti Zionists alike as it proclaimed that since Israel defines itself as the Jewish State it is Jewishness (rather than Zionism) which we must understand first.  In the book I offered a solution to some of  the questions raised by Craville. I contended that instead of asking ‘what Jews are’ or even ‘what Judaism is,’ we should study what are the set of ideologies, precepts and philosophies that people who self identify as Jews adhere to. In my work, Jews are neither a biological continuum nor they are a religious collective. In The Wandering Who Jewishness proves itself to be an elastic identitarian construct.  

We have learned to accept that we are living in a post truth era.  But here is the good news: the more is invested in suppressing the truth, the more the truth is keen to unveil itself.

Zionism.jpg

Serious question: What is Zionism?

By John Carville

If Zionism was the political movement to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in the Middle East, then surely it achieved its goal and the term ceased to have meaning in terms of defining the objectives of a political movement.

Alternatively, if Zionism then morphed into support for the continued existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East, then the only point of view what would not be Zionist would be the one that calls the Jewish state illegitimate and calls for it to be dismantled. Yet there are few political voices that call for such an approach, and governments that have referred to the Jewish state as illegitimate have been demonized for doing so. Clearly, such a view is regarded as a fringe one.

So, what is Zionism today? Is everybody who does not declare Israel to be an illegitimate state that should be dismantled and the land given back to its dispossessed people a Zionist? Would that not make nearly everyone a Zionist? And, if so, does that not deprive the term of any meaning whatsoever?

This is not just semantics. Clearly, considerable effort goes on, particularly within movements like BDS and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, to imprint the mantra into people’s minds that it is “Zionism not Judaism” that is responsible for the ongoing plight of the Palestinian people; and that, more importantly, we should not ask any questions about the role of Judaic teaching or ideology in attempting to understand what motivated and continues to motivate the supporters of what is now a genocidal apartheid state that openly defines itself as a “Jewish state” in the Middle East. If it is Zionism and not Judaism that is the problem, then clearly we need to understand what Zionism is (and, relatedly, whether it is rooted in Jewish religious teaching). And if Zionism turns out to be an empty concept, then we should be asking ask what are the ideological underpinnings of Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians (and the lack of action on the part of the international community in that context) for more than 70 years.

Personally, I reject the “Zionism is not Judaism” approach and see that we are being fobbed off with nonsense. It seems clear that this wonderfully popular term “Zionism” is now devoid of content. Either no one is now a Zionist (because the goal of Zionism was achieved via the Catastrophe of 1948) or almost everyone is a Zionist (because there are very few people who would declare that the Jewish state should be dismantled and returned to its dispossessed owners). And,as Israel Shahak argued eloquently in his important and insightful work Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, I would suggest that we cannot begin to understand Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians without examining the roots of Judaic thinking and Jewish identity in the ethnically and religiously discriminatory doctrines of Judaic religion, which has shaped the Jewish mindset for most of its history. It seems, however, that Shahak’s writing continues to reap far less attention than it merits.

Yesterday, I attended a social evening organized by BDS Granada. Towards the end of the evening, I spoke to a couple of members, who seemed very nice people, but they instantly became uncomfortable when I made this point, namely, that we cannot understand Israel’s ongoing genocide against the Palestinians without looking at its ideological roots and justification in the Jewish religion. ‘Oh no,’ they said, ‘that is dangerously close to anti-Semitism. Zionism is not Judaism,’ etc. Then their Jewish friend popped up and, well, let’s just say things went downhill from there.

Clearly, the topic continues to be both policed and silenced within many circles. It is thus no surprise that the activities of the many nice people within the BDS movement and various PSC collectives have failed to gain any real traction over the last decades, when discussion of issues highly relevant for understanding the problem continue to be policed and rendered taboo out of fear of offending Jewish feelings. And while I agree that there is always a need to respect the feelings of others in all forms of discourse, this needs to be balanced against many other needs, including the right to free speech – especially when the matter involves attempts to resolve ongoing crimes against humanity being committed against a specific collectivity, in this case the Palestinian people. To say that we cannot understand the roots of Israel’s ongoing genocide without examining the doctrines of Judaic teaching over the centuries is not to call for violence or discrimination against people who identify as Jews (and there are various different mechanisms of identification involved here, which merit considerable academic analysis in themselves). Nor is it an attempt to say that all people who identify as Jewish are involved in or support the illegal, oppressive and discriminatory actions of the Jewish state. Attempts to suggest otherwise violate our right to and need for free and open discourse on matters of great importance. Furthermore, discourse about justifications of violence in religious texts have taken place without problem in the context of other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity and Islam (and also, “Hinduism”, though this term is something of a misnomer for the various traditions that are usually grouped together under this name).

Like Professor E Michael Jones, who has also sought to open up discourse surrounding Jewish thinking so that we might understand what is going on in our world, I have never advocated violence against any specific collectivity. And, like Gilad Atzmon, too, I reject racially or biologically based generalizations to examine questions related to the political and social influence of Jewish power and ideology in our world. I have lost count of the amount of times I have had to explain that to talk about discriminatory and supremacist teachings at the core of Judaic teaching does not mean that all individuals who identify as Jewish are as equally influenced by such doctrines. Jewish thought runs the gamut from the belief that all human beings (including non-Jews) should have the same rights and be valued and treated equally to the view that non-Jews have Satanic souls, that only Jews have a Higher Soul that comes from God, and that the non-Jew exists only to serve the Jew like a clever beast of burden, with a vast range of shades in between representing various attempts to reconcile (or not) the notion of being a “chosen people” with a private covenant with their own god (hence the commandment that ‘thou shalt not have other gods before me’) and own set of laws, on the one hand, with the Enlightenment ideals of universalizable morals and the equality of all human beings, on the other. Certainly, there are many people who identify as Jews today who would seek to distance themselves from views espoused by groups such as that of the powerful ultra-Orthodox sect Chabad that it is only Jews that have a Higher Soul, or that expressed by the chief rabbi of the Sephardic community that Gentiles exist only to serve Jews. On the other hand, in noting that, we must also recognize that such an egalitarian strand within Jewish thinking is a relatively recent phenomenon, stretching back only to the post-Enlightenment period, when many Jews sought to break free of the strict mental and social control of the rabbis that had sought to keep them segregated from the rest of humanity in ghettos for so long. And the deep traces of the ancient religious teachings can still be found, and thus merit serious examination, even within today’s secular Jews. As the joke has it, and not without some merit, many secular Jews say they don’t believe in God that but still seem to think He granted them their “promised land”.

Leaving all that aside for now, though, the fact that there exist individuals who identify as Jewish but who reject (consciously or otherwise) the discriminatory ideology of Judaic teaching does not mean that we cannot or should not be allowed to talk meaningfully about the role of supremacist and genocidal teachings within Jewish thought as a Jewish phenomenon as a whole, just as the fact that there are many Americans who have opposed US exceptionalism throughout history does not mean that we cannot or should not be allowed to talk meaningfully about American exceptionalism. This should be fairly obvious. Even in the recent farcical allegations of Russian collusion made against the Trump campaign, no one suggested that all Russians were colluding with Trump, or that Trump’s team was colluding with all Russians. It’s quite simple really. The fact that there are people who see themselves as Jewish who reject (to greater or lesser degree) Jewish supremacist ideology and activity does not mean that we cannot and should not be allowed to talk about supremacist and genocidal thinking within Jewish ideology and religious teaching, nor to examine how far such thought influences events in the social and political sphere. And the fact that so much effort goes into attempting to prevent us from doing so should set off red warning lamps in the minds of any true defender of freedom of speech and academic enquiry.

I thus repeat my claim from a day or two ago, that we need (but of course will not get for what should be by now obvious reasons) full academic recognition of a critical discourse on questions related to Jewish identity, Jewish thinking and Jewish power. We might perhaps call such discourse Critical Jewish Studies. And it should be understood by any legitimate scholar of integrity that Critical Jewish Studies is not anti-Semitism, and that any attempt to silence such studies or discourse on such grounds would represent a violation of principles of free enquiry that any true academic should seek to defend, as well as of the natural law right to freedom of speech.

My battle for truth and freedom involves some expensive legal services. I hope that you will consider committing to a monthly donation in whatever amount you can give. Regular contributions will enable me to avoid being pushed against a wall and to stay on top of the endless harassment by Zionist operators attempting to silence me.

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Do You Care That israel (apartheid state) Controls US Politicians? #BDS

Do You Care That Israel Controls US Politicians?

Seriously, do you? Because if you do care about the independence of the US government from foreign control, you need to do your part to help bring the issue to light.

Israel and its powerful lobby control many US politicians. And this lobby uses very dirty tricks to shut down the opposition.

Learn more about AIPAC and the Israeli lobby and why YOU should support the #BDS movement!

French anti-semitism: Macron’s tool to silence Palestinian solidarity

Malia Bouattia is an activist, the former President of the National Union of Students, co-founder of the Students not Suspects/Educators not Informants Network and presenter/panelist on British Muslim TV’s Women Like Us.
By conflating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism, Macron is attempting to shield the government from criticism over its active participation in other forms of racism
People hold up Palestinian flags at a rally in Paris on 16 May 2018 (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron has committed himself to making anti-Zionism illegal, by making it – legally – equivalent to anti-semitism, and therefore a hate crime.

This announcement follows a verbal attack against French pro-Israeli writer Alain Finkielkraut during a Gilets Jaunes protest, where one demonstrator hurled the words “dirty Zionist”. The confrontation was described as anti-semitic by the president and numerous commentators.

A Jewish cemetery was also vandalised this month with Nazi swastikas, with around 80 graves targeted in the eastern French village of Quatzenheim, while a portrait of French Holocaust survivor Simone Veil was defaced with Nazi imagery.

Targeting political movements

The alarming rise of anti-semitism has plagued not just France, but the whole continent, with far-right groups gaining ground electorally and on the streets. In France alone, anti-Jewish attacks have risen by 74 percent over the last year.

But the problem with the French state’s response – which is not dissimilar to that of other governments, including the UK and US – is that it targets legitimate political movements, rather than dealing with a form of oppression woven into the fabric of French institutions.

It is striking that it is not the far-right and its numerous splinter groups that are being targeted by the president, nor is it the growing normalisation of racist rhetoric, including by the French leader himself.

Racism and fascism are structural forms of oppression that only manifest themselves on the streets because they have been normalised through state institutions

Instead, it is solidarity with the Palestinian people and opposition to Zionism – the ideology that justifies their dispossession – that is made to bear the responsibility.

Macron is showing us exactly what not to do in the face of rising fascism. He is effectively co-opting the rise in anti-semitism to target political dissent in the vein of pro-Palestine, anti-Zionist efforts.

Racism and fascism are structural forms of oppression that only manifest themselves on the streets because they have been legitimised, defused and normalised through state institutions.

Macron is surely aware that in World War Two, anti-semitism, and the consequent dehumanisation of entire peoples, became so widespread only because the Nazi party’s rhetoric gained influence within political institutions.

White-washing history

It is especially rich that Macron is attempting to equate anti-Zionism and anti-semitism when, just a few months ago, he came under fire for defending plans to pay tribute to Nazi collaborator Philippe Petain. Indeed, he claimed it to be legitimate because Petain was a marshal who led the French army to victory a century ago.

While heading the Vichy government, however, Petain and his administration facilitated the deportation to death camps of thousands of Jews. Much of this was later white-washed, with those involved integrated into the postwar administration of the republic.

French President Emmanuel Macron is overseeing the "normalisation of racist rhetoric" (Reuters)
French President Emmanuel Macron is overseeing the “normalisation of racist rhetoric” (Reuters)

The state’s targeting of the entire Gilets Jaunes movement over an isolated incident also discredits efforts to fight racism. The movement, which is non-hierarchical and has been described as leaderless, also includes far-right protesters – a point of much internal political debate in recent months. Anti-racist groups have expressed the need to fight for an inclusive and intersectional space, which is only likely to happen if they are part of the political events, protests and rallies.

There is a recognition at the grassroots level that in a society plagued by racism, it is only normal that even in anti-austerity efforts and among left-wing organisations, reactionary and conservative ideas exist. The difference is that there is a willingness to partake in a process of consciousness-raising, to set the direction of the movement and roll back the growing dominance of racism across French society.

The juxtaposition couldn’t be starker. Anti-racists in France are participating in a mass movement against austerity and taking on reactionary ideas, while the president, who himself has a poor track record on racism, is attempting to capitalise on it to launch a broader assault on solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Cosying up to the far-right

Communities are fearful for their safety. To provide the false illusion that Macron and his counterparts in the UK and US are legislating a fight back is despicable. They are targeting groups with a long-standing history of anti-racism, because they’re also likely to support the anti-imperialist struggle against Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

At the same time, these very same politicians are cosying up to the anti-semitic Hungarian government, the far-right, and individuals such as former White House strategist Steve Bannon. They are putting Jewish communities at risk, while instrumentalising them to justify their attacks on the left and communities of colour, and their foreign policies in the Middle East.

The ‘gilet jaunes’ are uniting France in a rage against Macron’s regime

Read More »

In Britain, we have witnessed the targeting of pro-Palestine efforts through counter-terrorism strategies, including Prevent. This has led to the cancellation of events, the questioning and demonisation of young activists, and threats to make the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement illegal.

In the US, there’s a continued targeting of activists and public figures by groups such as the Canary Mission. The recent swearing-in of Congress representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib was followed by a media onslaught over their support for Palestinian liberation – not to mention the Middle East security bill voted through the US Senate in order to criminalise BDS.

The need to resist

The international pattern is clear. Around the world, the rich and powerful are stoking racism to divert anger about growing inequality and injustice, including the normalisation of far-right groups, individuals and governments. In this process, anti-semitism is re-emerging, including among the very people who are close to power.

Today, the struggle against anti-Zionism is justified by a false conflation with anti-semitism

Yet, it is the left – the pro-Palestine movement and communities of colour – who are being accused by those very same governments around the world.

Today, the struggle against anti-Zionism, justified by a false conflation with anti-semitism, has a triple purpose: to weaken the left at home, shield the government from criticism over its active participation in the rise of anti-semitism and other forms of racism, and hide its geopolitical support for Israel behind a supposed protection for Jewish communities, endangering them in the process. All three aspects should be resisted ferociously.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

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