AIPAC Is a Global Menace

AIPAC Is a Global Menace

by Stephen Lendman

AIPAC is the most prominent US Israeli lobby organization, supporting its apartheid rule, ignoring its high crimes, operating illegally as an unregistered foreign agent – promoting a sinister agenda.

Criticizing how it operates and the Israel is a sure-fire career-ender for US congressional members. The same goes for major media journalists.

AIPAC is a lying machine, pro-Israel propaganda its speciality, including in its so-called “Briefing Book,” a work of fiction, mythology about Israel, concealing its dark side.

Stating its policy agenda, AIPAC lied claiming “(t)he United States and Israel face unprecedented challenges in the Middle East” – invented ones only. 

Real ones don’t exist. The region is threatened by the US/Israeli hegemonic agenda, both countries nuclear armed and dangerous, seeking to achieve its aims by brute force.

Key AIPAC objectives include preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons it abhors and wants eliminated entirely, wanting pro-Western fascist tyranny replacing the Islamic Republic’s sovereign independence, opposing Palestinian self-determination, and assuring strong US support for its policies, among other aims.

It lied calling Israel “a paragon of peace and democracy.” Its agenda is polar opposite, waging undeclared war on Palestinians and neighboring Syria, its belligerence threatening the region.

Its hostility toward Hamas, Palestine’s legitimate government, Palestinian resistance groups, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Iran is unrelenting. 

It’s fundamentally opposed to democratic rights, equality for all, freedom of expression, and rights for women. AIPAC falsely claimed otherwise.

It lied claiming “Israel constantly struggled to survive” throughout its existence, “fac(ing) hostile neighbors with numerically superior armed forces and contended with the constant threat of terrorism.”

The Jewish state began developing nuclear weapons in the 1950s, maintaining arsenals of these WMDS, along with  banned chemical and biological weapons. It faced no threats since the October 1973 Yom Kippur war.

“Israel shares America’s commitment (against) democracy, liberty and civil rights,” not the other way around as AIPAC falsely claimed.

Its entire Briefing Book was an exercise in deception, burnishing its dubious credentials as a propaganda machine.

“Israel is a world leader” in high crimes of war, against humanity, and slow-motion genocide, a “leader” in regional aggression along with the US and NATO, a “leader” in wrong over right.

It’s polar opposite “a force for good in the world,” a notion it abhors. Its actions explain what AIPAC conceals, turning truth on its head, claiming “Israel has one of the most sophisticated humanitarian assistance programs in the world.” 

Its agenda features state terror, apartheid ruthlessness, settlement expansions on stolen land, mass imprisonments, looting of Palestinian resources, endless war on its people, along with regional wars against targeted countries.

It serves privileged Jews exclusively, exploiting others, Arab citizens worst of all – the same way ordinary people are exploited in America and other Western countries.

AIPAC wants even greater US funding than already, nearly all of it for its killing machine, none for peace, equity and justice, nothing for all its citizens equitably.

Republicans and undemocratic Dems hand Israel around $10 million a day, swindled from US taxpayers, more millions and other benefits on request, an endless wealth transfer, supporting apartheid rule and militarism maintaining it.

The Netanyahu regime supports ISIS and other regional terrorists, aiding White Helmets jihadists connected to them – complicit with the US, NATO, the Saudis and other despotic Arab regimes.

The US/Israeli special relationship is one of the world’s most sinister and destructive anywhere.

AIPAC lied claiming both countries “developed deep strategic ties to confront common threats and ensure the Jewish state’s security” – at a time neither country faces strategic or any other foreign threats.

They and their partnered countries support terrorism. They’re not “combating” it. Nor is Israel “a beacon of (regional) stability.” Indeed it’s an “ally upon which America can consistently depend” in its endless war on humanity AIPAC won’t ever address.

Like Israel and Trump regime hardliners, AIPAC pushes the Big Lie about Iran, falsely calling the country “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

It’s NOT “Israel’s and America’s greatest long-term threat in the Middle East” or anywhere else. It IS the region’s leading proponent of world peace and stability.

Its sovereign independence, the above reason, Iran’s support for Palestinian rights, and opposition to America’s destructive imperial agenda, are the reasons behind US hostility toward Iran – the Trump regime even more hostile than its predecessors.

No Iranian drive for nuclear weapons exist, no violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, no sponsorship of terrorism it’s involved in combatting, no fomenting of regional instability, no international illicit behavior, no contempt for human and civil rights the way the US and Israel operate.

US major media consistently fail to explain all of the above or tell readers and viewers that Iran hasn’t attacked another country in centuries, what the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners do repeatedly.

AIPAC’s entire Briefing Book was an exercise in pro-Israel propaganda, a litany of Big Lies.

The organization supports endless wars, pushing the US to attack sovereign regional states standing in the way of Israel’s aim for regional hegemony.

Along with the Pentagon, NATO, and IDF, AIPAC threatens world peace, stability, and humanity’s survival.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

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War on #BDS: How AIPAC-israel (apartheid state) agenda became US priority

War on BDS: How AIPAC-Israel agenda became US priority

Source: Middle East Monitor

The Israeli-US war declared on the Palestinian boycott movement is coming to a head, culminating in a well-orchestrated effort aimed at suffocating any form of tangible protest of the ongoing Israeli colonization of Palestine.

But an Israeli ‘victory’, even with blind US government support, is still too elusive if at all guaranteed. Killing unarmed protesters at the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel is often whitewashed as Israel ‘defending itself’. However, legislating unconstitutional laws against the rights of ordinary people to boycott a state that practices war crimes might not be an easy endeavor.

The fact that 26 US states have already passed legislation or some form of condemnation of the civil act of boycott, as championed in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) should, in fact, raise more awareness of the iniquitous Israeli influence on the United States, rather than actually thwarting BDS.

The US Senate first bill of 2019 (S.B.1) titled: “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019” called on state and local governments to withhold contracts from any individual or business entity that boycotts Israel.

The bill was defeated, which is a promising sign. However, it must be noted as profound, if not altogether outrageous, that a country that is subsisting in a government shutdown and political crisis would find it both compelling and necessary to push for such a law in defense of a foreign country.

The bill will reappear again, of course. Alas, Americans should now get used to the idea that Israel’s priorities, however skewed and irrational in defense of its illegal military occupation of Palestine, will become the main rally cry for the US government for years to come.

While such a notion has proved true in the past, never before did ordinary Americans find themselves the main target in the political agenda of the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Even the mere protest of this agenda is being shunned. Iconic US civil rights activist, Angela Davis, 74, deservingly celebrated for her contribution to American society for decades, was denied an award by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute because of her defense of Palestinians and support of BDS.

This witch-hunt, which has now reached the most admired intellectuals of American society is affecting ordinary citizens everywhere as well, which is an alarming development in Israel’s unchecked power in the United States.

But how did Israel and its supporters acquire such disproportionate influence over the US government and society as a whole?

In short, the Lobby.

Cheered on by American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other pro-Israel lobbies, the US Congress is now leading the Israeli war on Palestinians and their supporters. In the process, they are attempting to demolish the very core of American democratic values.

The build-up to this particular battle, which will certainly be accentuated in 2019, began when AIPAC declared in its “2017 Lobbying Agenda” (PDF) that criminalizing the boycott of Israel is a top priority.

Cuomo  | BDS | Israel

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs a first-in-the-nation Executive Order directing the divestment of public funds supporting BDS against Israel. Kevin P. Coughlin | Office of Governor Cuomo

The US Congress, which has historically proven subservient to the Israeli government and its lobbies, enthusiastically embraced AIPAC’s efforts. This resulted in the Senate Bill S.720, also known as the “Anti-Israel Boycott Act”, which aimed to ban the boycott of Israel and its illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

The bill almost immediately gained the support of 48 Senators and 234 House members. Unsurprisingly, it was drafted mostly by AIPAC itself.

Punishment for those who violate the proposed law ranged from $250,000 to $1 million and 10 years imprisonment.

Anti-Palestinian measures in the US are nothing new. In fact, ardent support for Israel and the complete disregard for Palestinians is the only aspect which Democrats and Republicans have in common. It will remain to be seen if the inclusion of progressive and Muslim women in this current House lineup will change or at least challenge that reality.

For now, the sad truth is that the very individuals who were meant to guard the Constitution are the ones openly violating it. The First Amendment to the US Constitution has been the pillar in defense of the people’s right to free speech, freedom of the press, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

This right has, however, often been curtailed when it applies to Israel. The Center for Constitutional Rights refers to this fact as “The Palestine Exception“.

Dire as it may seem, there is something positive in this. For many years, it has been wrongly perceived that Israel’s solicitation of American support against Palestinians and Arabs is by no means a foreign country meddling or interfering in the US political system or undermining US democracy.

However, the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” is the most egregious of such interventions, for it strikes down the First Amendment, the very foundation of American democracy, by using America’s own legislators as its executors.

But none of this will succeed because simply put, noble ideas cannot be defeated.

Moreover, for Israel, this is a new kind of battle, one which it is foolishly attempting to fight using the traditional tactics of threats and intimidation and backed by blind US support.

The more the lobby tries to defeat BDS the more it exposes itself and its stranglehold on the American government and media.

Israel is no student of history. It has learned nothing from the experience of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. It is no surprise that Israel remained the last supporter of the Apartheid regime in that country before it fell.

For true champions of human rights, regardless of their race, religion or citizenship, this is their moment as no meaningful change ever occurs without people being united in struggle and sacrifice.

Top Photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 2018 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, at Washington Convention Center, March 6, 2018, in Washington. Jose Luis Magana | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is http://www.ramzybaroud.net.

Israel SITREP: The Christ-hating Israelis are at it again

Remember this:

or, for that matter, this:

Well, our Israeli friends have done it again, check out this article by RT: (just ignore all the explaining away and other cop-outs in the text of the RT article).
———-

‘McJesus’ statue sparks riot at museum in Israel as protesters call for removal of ‘offensive’ art

An art exhibit featuring a crucified Ronald McDonald caused chaos in the Israeli city of Haifa last week, after members of the country’s Arab Christian minority took offence at the depiction and protested outside the museum.Hundreds of Christian protesters called for the statue, titled ‘McJesus,’ to be removed from the museum, with Israeli police saying that some rioters even hurled a firebomb at the building and threw stones, shattering windows and injuring officers. Crowds were eventually dispersed with tear gas and stun grenades, according to the Associated Press.

Embedded video

The Wolf Report@thewolfreports

Christian Palestinians protesting in front of the Haifa Museum to the sculpture “McJesus” by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, depicting Ronald McDonalds clown on the cross.

However, it seems the protesters missed the point of the exhibit, which was not intended to be an attack on Christianity, but instead meant as an artist’s statement on capitalism, corporate domination and how modern society and culture worship false gods. The exhibit also includes Barbie-doll boxes with Jesus and the Virgin Mary inside.

The sudden focus on the exhibit came as a surprise to Museum Director Nissim Tal, however, since the art in question had been on display for months already without issue. It is believed that photos of the controversial statue recently published on social media prompted the protests.

The work has also been shown in other countries without problems, although Israel’s Christians make up a tiny percentage of the population in a country which is already rife with ethnic and religious tensions.

Wadie Abu Nassar, an adviser to church leaders who have demanded the exhibit’s removal, told the AP it was necessary to understand that freedom of expression “is interpreted in different ways” in different societies. “If this work was directed against non-Christians, the world would be turned upside down,” he said.

The museum has refused to remove the artwork, saying that it must uphold freedom of expression and resist pressure. “If we take the art down, the next day we’ll have politicians demanding we take other things down and we’ll end up only with colorful pictures of flowers in the museum,” Tal said, adding: “We will be defending freedom of speech, freedom of art, and freedom of culture, and will not take it down.”

Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev, who has earlier been accused of supporting censorship after pushing legislation commanding national “loyalty” in art, also called for the exhibit to be taken down, saying it was “disrespectful.”

The museum has hung a curtain over the entrance to the exhibit and put up a sign saying that it is not intended to offend, but that is the “maximum” it will do, its director added. Protesters, however, have refused to give up, with one reportedly camping outside the museum in a tent with a sign calling on artists to “respect religions.”

In another twist, the Finnish artist who produced the ‘McJesus’ statue, Jani Leinonen, also wants the work taken out of the Haifa museum, but not because he doesn’t want to offend. Leinonen said he supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to pressure Israel to change its policies toward Palestinians.

Nadine Nashef@nanninenashef

The McJesus Saga keeps getting better and better. Apparently Finnish artist Jani Leinonen is a activist/supporter and wants his work taken out of the Haifa museum. He wasn’t aware it was being exhibited there. 😂

———-

Bottom line is this: if it is anti-Christian, then even a BDS-supporting goy will get his 15 minutes of fame in the “only democracy in the Middle-East”.

These guys, and the al-Qaeda crazies, are the forces which the West chose to support in the Middle-East.

Bravo!

The Saker

Source of pro-israel (apartheid state) guerrilla warriors on social media exposed

Source of pro-Israel Guerrilla Warriors on Social Media Exposed
By Nasim Ahmed

In this photo illustration, The Twitter logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 in this arranged photograph on September 25, 2016 in Paris, France (Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

A number of prominent Jewish-American leaders are funding covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, The Forward has found. The Jewish daily newspaper, which has been publishing valuable information concerning the source of funding for these hyper-aggressive and shadowy groups – which spearhead coordinated hate campaigns against critics of the Zionist state – has uncovered the identities of those behind hidden social media accounts.

Community heads and prominent Jewish organisations with a carefully-crafted, respectable public profile have donated millions to fund secret projects targeting students and lecturers, the report has found. On a number of occasions, their blind support for Israel has seen them bankroll far-right and anti-Muslim hate groups.

The latest pro-Israeli group to be exposed by The Forward is the campaign targeting the pro-Palestinian campus network Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP is said to be the most well-known advocate of the Palestinian cause on US campuses. It has been the target of a pro-Israel group known as SJP Uncovered, which anonymously attacks student activists affiliated with SJP across the country. With more than 100,000 followers on Facebook, SJP Uncovered has gone after pro-Palestinian students by maintaining a veil of anonymity that is said to be all-but impenetrable.

Until now, the source of funding for SJP Uncovered had been a mystery. The Forward has now been able to shed light on the organisation to reveal that the site is a secret project of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a Washington DC-based pro-Israel organisation tied to most mainstream funders and organisations in the Jewish community.

On its official website, the ICC says that its vision is to create a campus environment where “dialogue and ideas are freely exchanged about Israel”. Publicly, the ICC presents a respectable face typical of nearly all pro-Israeli groups, but privately it is funding one of the most aggressive and shadowy student groups responsible for hateful campaigns against critics of the Zionist state. The Forward revealed that the ICC paid over $1 million in the 2016/2017 fiscal year to SJP Uncovered, in that time also running vicious campaigns against students with the aid of political consulting firms.

Until around 2014, the ICC is said to have been a standard pro-Israel advocacy group receiving donations from the largest and most mainstream Jewish-American foundations. In 2015, its operations changed to “covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, often with the help of top-tier paid professional political consultants,” according to the investigative report.

Describing the change in focus, one former pro-Israeli campus official said: “It was clear that the old way of doing business […] was not making the cut, and was not enough, and there was a totally new offensive approach to things.” He added:

The overall framing was [that] the pro-Israel community is no longer going to sit back and let things happen, they are going to go on the offense […] It was very clear that going on the offensive to them meant going after students and the organizations that were bringing BDS.

With the change in emphasis in 2015 towards more aggressive campaigns, the ICC began hiring paid political consultants – including opposition researchers – to work on campuses. It transformed itself into a cog in what is often described as Israel’s secret global war against pro-Palestinian activists, which is operated by a dedicated ministry in Tel Aviv known as the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Its main function is to spearhead Israel’s overt and covert efforts to smear the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is modelled on the global campaign that helped end Apartheid in South Africa. In November, the Electronic Intifada published in full an undercover Al Jazeera documentary that revealed some of the ministry’s tactics. The documentary was censored, allegedly after Israel lobby pressure on Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera.

SJP Uncovered is one of many pro-Israel organisations to emerge from a new consensus within sections of the Jewish-American community. They believed that defeating the global BDS movement was a key priority, which could only be achieved through aggressive means. Such tactics, however, not only risked falling foul of the rules of respectable public institutions, it was bad for their image.  The solution for Zionist and pro-Israel groups, both in the US and Israel, was to adopt secretive and clandestine tactics against their targets in an effort to protect their reputation. One of the best known of these operations is the formerly-anonymous website Canary Mission, which posts political dossiers on college students. The site went live in 2015, and has since grown to include dossiers on thousands of students.

A series of Forward exposés in October revealed that a foundation controlled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, a major Jewish charity with an annual budget of over $100 million, had donated $100,000 to the website, whose work has drawn comparisons to a McCarthyite blacklist. An Haaretz profile of the Canary Mission found that, for three years, the website had spread fear among undergraduate activists by posting more than a thousand political dossiers on student supporters of Palestinian rights. At the same time, the website had gone to great lengths to hide the digital and financial trail connecting it to its donors and staff. Registered through a secrecy service, the site had been untraceable until recently.

While the federation had assured that it was a “one-time grant” that would never happen again, the uncovering of a publicly respectable pro-Israel organisations giving funds to operate clandestine hate campaigns against pro-Palestinian activists triggered further investigations. The Canary Mission was just the tip of the iceberg, as tax filings seen by the magazine +972 showed that there was a pattern of systemic financing of radical right-wing and anti-Muslim groups.

Why was 2015 pivotal to this shift in strategy? Jewish leaders in the US, says Forward reporter Josh Nathan-Kazis, decided to spend significant communal resources attacking college students in that year because there was a coming-together of Israel’s spy culture and Jewish-American mega donors like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban. Both felt that the work being carried out by mainstream Jewish organisations was unsatisfactory. Wanting to shift the entire tenor of the Jewish communal approach to fighting anti-Semitism and BDS, major Jewish organisations were called to a secret meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During this 2015 meeting, there was a consensus for a push towards more aggressive responses to BDS. A new initiative, named after Jewish guerrilla warriors Maccabees, was formed. On its website, the Maccabee taskforce – which claims that the BDS movement is spreading anti-Semitism across the world – says it is “determined to help students combat this hate by bringing them the strategies and resources they need to tell the truth about Israel”.

Strategies developed by Israeli think tanks like the Reut Institute became the playbook for the aggressive tactics that is said to have come into maturity during that period. These tactics, Nathan-Kazis explains, called for pro-Israel advocates to “out, name and shame” harsh critics of Israel, and to “frame them […] as anti-peace, anti-Semitic, or dishonest purveyors of double standards”. They talked about “establishing a ‘price tag’” for attacks on Israel and “isolating” advocacy groups that attack Israel, while “organizing regular meetings of pro-Israel networks”.

This article was originally published by MEMO” –

Anti BDS Bill Defeated

Anti BDS Bill Defeated

Gilad Atzmon – gilad.co.uk Jan 10, 2019

10 million a day to Israel

Some may be happy to learn that the US Senate didn’t pass the ‘anti BDS bill’ on Tuesday. But a look at the vote reveals that America’s politicians are fully removed from the American ethos of freedom. Fifty six  mostly Republican Senators, just 4 shy of the 60 needed to pass the bill, voted to enact a law contrary to the Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech as granted by the 1st amendment. The defeated bill included a provision to allow states and local governments to punish Americans who boycott Israel. This was an astonishing and nearly successful attempt  to legislate crude government interference with freedom of speech in its most protected form: political speech. The fact that such a bill made it to the floor of the Senate confirms that the American political establishment is an occupied zone committed to silencing opposition to Israel and its lobby.
Democrats did not necessarily oppose the anti BDS bill on first amendment grounds. Instead, most Senate Democrats have vowed to block all legislation in the Senate until it votes to end the government shutdown. Trump has closed the Federal government until Congress accedes to his demand for $5.7 billion to begin to erect an Israeli style ghetto wall on the Mexican border.
If the president is so desperate to defend America’s southern border, perhaps he should consider not giving military aid to Israel, even if just for two years. This would free $8 billion and give Trump enough cash to build his wall and then maybe he could invest the remaining $2.3 billion where it’s really needed: to make America great again.
To sign a petition in support of Gilad click here
Lodge a formal complaint with Islington Council: https://www.islington.gov.uk/contact-us/comments-and-complaints?status=inprogress
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Senate anti-#BDS bill slammed as ‘absurd’ amid US government shutdown

Senate anti-BDS bill slammed as ‘absurd’ amid US government shutdown

US politicians and advocacy group say Senate should focus on the shutdown instead of taking away Americans’ free speech rights

Senator Marco Rubio said states have a right to boycott companies that boycott Israel (AFP/File photo)

WASHINGTON – A US Senate measure encouraging states and local governments to “divest” from companies that boycott Israel has stirred controversy in Washington, with civil rights groups rallying against the proposal and Senator Bernie Sanders slamming it as “absurd”.

The measure, presented in a wider Middle East foreign policy bill, was introduced last week amidst a partial shutdown of the federal government, which was caused by a political impasse over funding between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

“It’s absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity,” Sanders wrote on Twitter on Monday.

“Democrats must block consideration of any bills that don’t reopen the government. Let’s get our priorities right.”

That message makes a mockery of the constitutional principle that Americans are free to believe as they choose

– ACLU, on the Combating BDS Act

Newly elected Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib also criticised the proposal, which the Senate may vote on as early as Tuesday, urging politicians to remember that the US Constitution guarantees free speech.

“They forgot what country they represent. This is the US. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.”

The statement provoked Marco Rubio, the Republican senator who introduced the bill last week, to accuse the Palestinian-American congresswoman of anti-Semitism.

Tlaib later clarified that her comment was not aimed at Jewish-Americans, but was about Republicans’ efforts to strip citizens of their right to freedom of expression instead of focusing on reopening the government.

Earlier in the day, Rubio defended the proposal, calling Sanders’ statement a “lie”.

He also emphasised that his proposal is legal, despite two federal court rulings in Kansas and Arizona last year concluding that it is unconstitutional to force state contractors to refrain from boycotting Israel.

‘Unconstitutional’

Dozens of states have passed various forms of anti-BDS bills in recent years, but several of these measures are currently being challenged in courts across the US.

While Rubio’s bill boosts local and state efforts against boycotting Israel, it also extends to boycotts of “Israeli-controlled territories”, effectively targeting boycotts of Israeli businesses in the illegally occupied Palestinian West Bank and Syrian Golan Heights.

The proposal is named the “Combating BDS Act of 2019” after the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to pressure Israel economically and politically to end its abuses against Palestinians.

“My bill doesn’t punish any political activity. It protects the right of local & state govts that decide to no longer do business with those who boycott #Israel. So boycotting #Israel is a constitutional right, but boycotting those participating in #BDS isn’t?” Rubio wrote on Twitter.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) responded to Rubio by explaining that the First Amendment, which grants US citizens the right to free speech, belongs to the people, not the government.

“States don’t have the ‘right’ to punish individuals for participating in political boycotts the government doesn’t agree with, which this bill encourages them to do,” the group said on Twitter.

Rubio’s office did not respond to MEE’s request for comment on Monday.

Later in the day, the ACLU sent a letter to the members of the Senate, calling on them to reject the bill, “primarily due to First Amendment concerns”.

“The Combating BDS Act sends a clear message to Americans who engage on issues of global importance that if they dare to disagree with their government, they will be penalized and placed in a lesser class with fewer opportunities,” the letter said.

“That message makes a mockery of the constitutional principle that Americans are free to believe as they choose.”

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) also called on its supporters to contact their elected officials and urge them to reject the bill.

“This unconstitutional bill violates the First Amendment rights of all Americans to challenge the illegal and discriminatory actions of a foreign government and goes against the principles of free speech on which our country was founded,” CAIR government affairs director, Robert McCaw, said in a statement.

Government shutdown

Since late December, about 25 percent of US federal agencies have been closed because of the disagreement between Trump and Democrats over the president’s demand to allocate $5bn for a border wall with Mexico.

The failure to reach an agreement has killed efforts to pass several funding bills.

In that context, Rubio’s anti-BDS measure has been criticised as a distraction from the more consequential government shutdown, as well.

The timing of the bill, dubbed S1, as the first order of business of the new Senate in 2019, has even irked some politicians who are staunch supporters of Israel.

READ MORE ►

Tlaib’s rise comes in defiance of decades of attacks on Palestinians in US

In a Twitter post, Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat who introduced his own anti-BDS bill in 2017, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should not take up any other piece of legislation that does not address the “crisis” of the shutdown.

The ACLU letter also noted the concerning nature of proposing the bill at a time when lawmakers should be trying to resolve the more pressing issue of the shutdown.

“It is particularly alarming that the Senate is considering this bill amidst a partial government shutdown,” it said.

The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights provided a sample letter to its supporters, calling on them to urge their senators to vote against the proposed bill.

“I am especially outraged that while parts of the government remain shutdown, the Senate would consider its most urgent act to be denying us our First Amendment rights,” the letter reads.

Hate speech without hate: Britain and the United States

December 28, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

Free-speech_0.jpg

By Eve Mykytyn

Gilad Atzmon is fighting a battle for free speech in England. Here’s why it matters in the United States. Atzmon was prohibited by a local council, Islington, made up almost entirely of Labour Party members, from playing the saxophone with his band the Blockheads. The ban followed a complaint from a far right Zionist, who in his own social media posts frequently disparaged and threatened the Labour Party and its leader as anti Semitic.

The complainant submitted a number of quotations from Atzmon taken out of context and cut and pasted for the desired effect. In fact, Atzmon is not an anti Semite, although he is critical of identity politics and particularly of Jewish identity politics (for example, the group Jewish Voices for Peace, why not All Voices for Peace?). The council concluded that Atzmon’s views were “at the lowest provocative and distasteful or at the highest anti-Semitic and racist”.

England has hate speech laws and with that conclusion one might have expected the council to file a complaint. But Atzmon has never been charged or even questioned under such laws. Through a convoluted series of rationales, the council, which does not have policing power, decided it had the right to prohibit a saxophone player from joining his band. The Labour Party seems to support the council’s decision: the Guardian reported that a spokesman for the Labour Party, without proof, labelled Atzmon a “vile anti-Semite“. Would Atzmon, a critic of Israel, been allowed to have the council deny admission to hard core Zionists? Could the council ban Muslims in burkas about whom Zionists complained?

“The right to examine its history simply places the holocaust with other terrible events we must examine and learn from, such as the Armenian Holocaust or the countless and uncounted Africans who died in the middle passage.”

Atzmon was also falsely called a holocaust denier. Atzmon is a critic of European laws that forbid any examination into the holocaust that contradicts the “accepted” narrative. This is odd, because the count of six million is, in itself, a suspiciously round number. Could it have been 6,100,000? Timothy Snyder, a Jewish historian at Yale, has written in the book Bloodlands, Europe between Hitler and Stalin, that far more Jews were simply shot than had originally been thought. Is this a violation? And, of course, no other historical narrative has been granted the legal right to go unexamined. The right to examine its history simply places the holocaust with other terrible events we must examine and learn from, such as the Armenian Holocaust or the countless and uncounted Africans who died in the middle passage.

In the United States we are facing similar issues. At the moment, there is a groundswell of support for prohibiting ‘white supremacists’ or more accurately, those whom some perceive as ‘white supremacists,’ from speaking. The University of Virginia, a public college, banned Richard Spencer and nine other white nationalist from campus for four years, although there were no claims that any of the 10 had participated in violence. Effective prohibitions have also come from students in response to Charles Murray’s statistical analyses (as at Middlebury College where thrown bottles injured a professor). There was indeed violence at Charlottesville where ‘white nationalist’ gathered, but there was violence during the civil rights marches. Should we have prohibited those brave enough to fight Jim Crow?

Twenty five states now have anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) laws for state workers or government contractors prohibiting participation in and/or requiring divestment (another boycott?) of companies that support BDS. This even though the Supreme Court has long held that political boycotts –  are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment. A similar bill is now pending in Congress and seems to enjoy wide support. Why can’t a teacher or a government contractor conclude that Israel’s persistent brutality towards the native Palestinians is worthy of a boycott? Like Atzmon’s saxophone playing, they are being subjected to a political test while simply trying to earn a living, unrelated to Israel or boycotts.

Clearly, this is a slippery slope and it appears Britain is still ahead of the United States in attacking unwanted speech. Let’s not race so hard to catch up.

*Eve Mykytin is a writer, editor and former financial lawyer

source: https://www.redressonline.com/2018/12/hate-speech-without-hate-britain-and-the-united-states/

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